Family factors and risk behavior in adolescent dating relationships: Heterosocial competence as a mediator between interparental conflict and dating violence
Hunter, Heather L.
University of Kansas
Clinical Child Psychology
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A growing body of literature has suggested that associations between interparental conflict and adolescent dating violence emerge in part due to social learning. Nevertheless, the mechanisms underlying links between interparental conflict and adolescent dating violence are not well understood. Theoretical rationales provided by researchers working with adolescents, as well as empirical evidence from studies with adult populations, suggest that heterosocial competence is a key social learning component associated with a risk for intimate partner violence. The purpose of the present study was to examine heterosocial competence as a mediating variable in the intergenerational transmission of violence. Participants included 172 adolescents recruited from two public high schools. Results indicated that conflict properties of interparental conflict did not predict adolescent dating violence but that interparental conflict resolution predicted adolescents' heterosocial competence and use of adaptive conflict resolution strategies within their most recent dating relationship. However, the hypothesized mediational relationships were not supported given that only a small proportion of variance in adolescent dating conflict was accounted for by heterosocial competence. Findings highlight important patterns of adolescent dating violence within a diverse public high school student population, further the literature regarding recurrence of violence across generations, provide measurement information about a new measure of adolescent heterosocial competence, and offer preliminary information about associations between heterosocial competence and conflict within intimate partnerships.
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