Marital Conflict and Violence: A Taxonomy of Sources of Conflict and Predictors of Violence

Margo Wilson, McMaster University
Martin Daly, McMaster University

ABSTRACT


Theory and research have identified a number of interacting factors that threaten mate solidarity in species in which males and females form long-lasting pairs who cooperate to rear their young. The same considerations are of clear relevance to the human case: (1) temptations to abandon the present partner and "upgrade"; (2) temptations to free-ride on the partner's investments in the relationship; (3) nepotistic interests in the well-being of distinct sets of relatives (the in-law problem); (4) dependent offspring from prior unions (the stepchild problem); and (5) covert extra-pair sexual liaisons (the adultery/cuckoldry problem). These basic sources of conflict suggest a number of hypotheses about risk factors for intimate partner violence, only some of which are presently testable from data in existing archives on homicide and non-lethal assault. We will illustrate the applicability of this framework to the generation and testing of hypotheses about violence against intimate partners and relatives of the intimate partner victims.

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Updated 05/20/2006