Dating Violence Victimization: A Test of Social Learning Theory

Valerie S. Hogan, University of South Florida
Christine S. Sellers, University of South Florida

Much of the research on violence in intimate relationships has focused on "learned aggression" through modeling of parental behavior observed during childhood. Indeed, the witnessing of parental violence has been found to be correlated with not only use of violence but also victimization in later intimate relationships. Nevertheless, the mechanisms by which such victimization is "learned" are not clearly understood. This study explores the ability of Akers' social learning theory, which extends our understanding of learned behavior beyond modeling and imitation, to explain physical victimization in dating relationships. Using a sample of 1,260 college students involved in serious dating relationships, this study finds that imitation, reinforcement, and associations all play a significant role in predicting victimization among both male and female dating partners.

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Updated 05/20/2006