Self-Regulatory Failure and Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration

Eli J. Finkel*, C. Nathan DeWall, Erica B. Slotter, Megan Oaten, Vangie A. Foshee

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    281 Citations (Scopus)


    Five studies tested the hypothesis that self-regulatory failure is an important predictor of intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration. Study 1 participants were far more likely to experience a violent impulse during conflictual interaction with their romantic partner than they were to enact a violent behavior, suggesting that self-regulatory processes help individuals refrain from perpetrating IPV when they experience a violent impulse. Study 2 participants high in dispositional self-control were less likely to perpetrate IPV, in both cross-sectional and residualized-lagged analyses, than were participants low in dispositional self-control. Study 3 participants verbalized more IPV-related cognitions if they responded immediately to partner provocations than if they responded after a 10-s delay. Study 4 participants whose self-regulatory resources were experimentally depleted were more violent in response to partner provocation (but not when unprovoked) than were nondepleted participants. Finally, Study 5 participants whose self-regulatory resources were experimentally bolstered via a 2-week training regimen exhibited less violent inclinations than did participants whose self-regulatory resources had not been bolstered. These findings hint at the power of incorporating self-regulation dynamics into predictive models of IPV perpetration.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)483-499
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009

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