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Department of Psychological Sciences

Laura M. King, Ph.D.

Advisor: Dr. Mark Barnett

Dissertation Title

Long-term implications of childhood experiences with family violence: an examination of potential qualifiers

Dissertation Abstract

Very few empirical investigations have systematically explored the long-term consequences of experiencing violence within the home during childhood. The present investigation was designed to examine the relationship between various childhood family violence experiences (direct physical aggression from the father or the mother and witnessing of physical aggression between the parents) and current aggressive inclinations (against one's child, spouse, and nonrelatives) and depressive tendencies. The sex of the individual along with a number of other individual difference and situational variables were expected to qualify the potential impact of past experiences with violence in the home. A total of 183 adult classified employees of Kansas State University (123 females, 59 males, and one individual whose gender was not specified) participated in the study by voluntarily completing an anonymous questionnaire through the mail. The data were analyzed primarily by a hierarchical multiple regression procedure. Unfortunately, due to seriously limited variance on a number of the measures, several of the specific hypotheses (regarding interactions among type of childhood violence experience and sex of subject) could not be tested. The analyses did, however, reveal some interesting relationships among the predictors and criteria. Notably, it was found that the pattern of parental physical aggression during childhood may be an important determinant of the extent to which an individual "carries over" earlier experience with family violence into adulthood. Specifically, subjects reported increasing use of physical aggression against their own child with increasing childhood exposure to parental aggression (i.e. neither, one, or both parents having been aggressive against the subject). Past family violence experiences were also the only significant group of predictors in the multiple regressions regarding the subjects' use of physical aggression against their spouse and against nonrelatives. Depression was not significantly associated with the predictors in the multivariate analyses. A discussion is also provided of several interesting bivariate correlations between the predictor variables and the criteria of depression and child-directed, spouse-directed, and nonfamilial physical aggression.


Ph.D., Psychology, Kansas State University, 1989