Biosocial Risk Factors for Domestic Violence

Continuities with Criminality?
  • Neil S. Jacobson
  • Eric T. Gortner
Part of the Nato ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 292)


Domestic violence occupies an unusual position in psychological research. While being one of the most widespread and devastating of societal problems, domestic violence is also one of the areas with the least amount of quality empirical work. We need to look no further than the historical and cultural context of wife assault to recognize that violence against women has not only been largely ignored and minimized across time, but has also been sanctioned by our patriarchal culture (Bograd, 1988; Dobash & Dobash, 1979). Part of this apparent lack of research enthusiasm may be explained by the delicate ethical issues that are raised when science attempts to intervene in such a politically perilous area (Jacobson, 1994). The accurate dissemination of results from this type of research is particularly difficult given the propensity of the mass media to confuse and misinterpret issues of correlation, causality, and responsibility. Another possible deterrent to would-be researchers is that domestic violence is not part of any mainstream, but rather overlaps with many different disciplines, including psychology, public health, law, and social work domains.


Domestic Violence Antisocial Behavior Physical Violence Family Violence Heart Rate Reactivity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bauserman, S.K. & Arias, I. (1992). Relationships among marital investment, marital satisfaction, and marital commitment in domestically victimized and nonvictimized wives. Violence and Victims, 7, 287–296.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bograd, M. (1988). Feminist perspectives on wife abuse: An introduction. In K. Yllo and M. Bograd (Eds.), Feminist perspecrives on wife abuse. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  3. Booth, A. & Dabbs, J.M. (1993). Testosterone and men’s marriages. Social Forces, 72, 463–477.Google Scholar
  4. Brennan. P.A. & Mednick, S.A. (in press). Perinatal and medical histories of antisocial individuals. In J.D. Maser, D.M. Stoff, & J. Breiling, (Eds.), Handbook of Antisocial Behavior Google Scholar
  5. Brown, G.L., & Linnoila, M.I. (1990). CSF serotonin metabolite (5-HIAA) studies in depression, impulsivity, and violence. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 51, 31–41.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Browne, A. (1993). Violence against women by male partners: Prevalences, outcomes, and policy implications. American Psychologist, 48, 1077–1087.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cantos, A.L., Neidig, P.H., & O’Leary, K.D. (1994). Injuries of women and men in a treatment program for domestic violence. Journal of Family Violence, 8, 113–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Centerwall, B.S. (1995). Race, socioeconomic status, and domestic homicide. Journal of American Medical Association, 273, 1755–1758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cordova, J.V., Jacobson, N.S., Gottman, J.M., Rushe, R., & Cox, G. (1993). Negative reciprocity and communication in couples with a violent husband. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102, 559–564.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dabbs, J.M., Carr, T.S., Frady, R.L., & Riad, J.K. (1995). Testosterone, crime, and misbehavior among 692 male prison inmates. Personality and Individual Differences, 18, 627–633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davies, P.T., & Cummings, E.M. (1994). Marital conflict and child adjustment: An emotional security hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 116(3), 387–411.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dobash, R.E., & Dobash, R.P. (1979). Violence against wives: A case against patriarchy. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  13. Dolan, M. (1994). Psychopathy: A neurobiological perspective. British Journal of Psychiatry, 165, 151–159.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Doumas, D., Margolin, G, & John, R.S. (1994). The intergenerational transmission of aggression across three generations. Journal of Family Violence, 9, 157–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dutton, D.G. (1995). Male abusiveness in intimate relationships. Clinical Psychology Review, 15(6), 567–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dutton, D.G. (1994). Partriarchy and wife assault: The ecological fallacy. Violence and Victims, 9, 167–182.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Dutton, D.G. & Hart, S.D. (1992). Evidence for long-term, specific effects of childhood abuse and neglect on criminal behavior in men. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 36, 129–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Follingstad, D.R., Rutledge, L.L., Berg, B.J., Hause, E.S., & Polek, D.S. (1990). The role of emotional abuse in physically abusive relationships. Journal of Family Violence, 5, 107–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gelles, R.J. (1993). Through a sociological tense: Social structure and family violence. In R.J. Gelles & D.R. Loseke (Eds.). Current Controversies on Family Violence, 102–196. Newbury Park. Ca. Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Gottman, J.M., Jacobson, N.S., Rushe, R., Shortt, J., Babcock, J., LaTaillade, J., & Waltz, J. (1995). The relationship between heart rate reactivity, emotionally aggressive behavior, and general violence in batterers. Journal of Family Psychology, 9, 227–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hamberger, K. & Hastings, J. (1991). Personality correlates of men who batter and nonviolent men: Some continuities and discontinuities. Journal of Family Violence, 6, 131–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hampton, R.L. & Gelles, R.J. (1994). Violence toward black women in a nationally representative sample of black women. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 25, 105–119.Google Scholar
  23. Hampton, R.L., Gelles, R.J., & Harrop, J.W. (1989). Is violence in black families increasing? A comparison of 1975 and 1985 national survey rates. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 51, 969–980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hare, R.D. (1978). Electrodermal and cardiovascular correlates of psychopathy. In R.D. Hare & D. Schalling (Eds.). Psychopathic Behavior: Approaches to Research (pp. 107–144). New York: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  25. Hare, R.D., Frazelle, J., & Cox, D.N. (1978). Psychopathy and physiological responses to threat of an aversive stimulus. Psychophysiology, 15, 165–172.Google Scholar
  26. Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Bates, L., Smutzler, N., & Sandin, B. (in press). A brief review of the research on husband violence. Part I: Maritally violent versus nonviolent men. Aggression and Violent Behavior Google Scholar
  27. Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Smutzler, N., & Sandin, B. (in press). A brief review of the research on husband violence. Part II: The psychological effects of husband violence on battered women and their children. Aggression and Violent Behavior.Google Scholar
  28. Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Smutzler, N., & Bates, L. (in press). A brief review of the research on husband violence. Part III: Sociodemographic factors, relationship factors, and differing consequences of husband and wife violence. Aggression and Violent Behavior.Google Scholar
  29. Hotaling, G. & Sugarman, D. (1990). A risk marker analysis of assaulted wives. Journal of Family Violence, 5. 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Howell, M. & Pugliesi, K. (1988). Husbands who harm: Predicting spousal violence by men. Journal of Family Violence, 3, 15–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jacobson, N.S., Gottman, J.M., Gortner, E.T., Berns, S, & Shortt, J. (In press). Psychological factors in the longitudinal course of battering. Violence and Victims.Google Scholar
  32. Jacobson, N.S., Gottman, J.M., & Shortt, J. (1995). The distinction between type I and type2 batterers-further consideration: Reply to Ordnuff et at. (1995), Margolin et al. (1995), and Walker (1995). Journal of Family Psychology, 9, 272–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jacobson, N.S. (1994). Rewards and dangers in researching domestic violence. Family Process, 33, 81–85.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jacobson, N.S., Gottman, J.M., Waltz, J., Rushe, R., & Babcock, J. (1994). Affect, verbal content, and psychophysiology in the arguments of couples with a violent husband. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 982–988.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Julian, T. & McHenry, P. (1993). Mediator of male violence towards female intimates. Journal of Family Violence, 8, 39–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kandel, E. & Freed, D. (1989). Frontal-lobe dysfunction and antisocial behavior: A review. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 445, 404–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kandel, E., Brennan, P.A., Mednick, S.A., & Michelsen, N.M. (1989). Minor physical anomalies and recidivistic adult violent offending. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 79, 103–107.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kavoussi, R.J., Liu, J., & Coccaro, E.F. (1994). An open trial of sertraline in personality disordered patients with impulsive aggression. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 55, 137–141.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. La Taillade, J. & Jacobson, N.S. (In press). Domestic violence: Antisocial behavior in the family. In J.D. Maser, D.M. Stoff. J. Breiling (Eds.), Handbook of Antisocial Behavior Google Scholar
  40. Leonard, K.E. & Blane, H.T. (1992). Alcohol and marital aggression in a national sample of young men. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 7, 19–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lilienfeld, S. (1994). Conceptual problems with the assessment of psychopathy. Clinical Psychology Review, 14, 17–38.Google Scholar
  42. Linnoila, V.M., & Virkkunen, M. (1992). Aggression, suicidality, and serotonin. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 53, 46–51.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Mclaughlin, I., Leonard, K., Senchak, M. (1992). Prevalence and distribution of premarital aggression among couples applying for a marriage license. Journal of Family Violence, 7, 109–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McKenry, P.C., Julian, T.W., & Gavazzi, S.M. (1995). Toward a biopsychosocial model of domestic violence. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57, 307–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Margolin, G., John, R.S., & Gleberman, L. (1988). Affective responses to conflictual discussion in violent and nonviolent couples. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 24–33.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mednick, S.A., & Kandel, E. (1988). Genetic and perinatal factors in violence. In S.A. Moffitt and T. Moffit (Eds.) Biological co11tributions to crime causation (pp. 121-134). Dordrecht, Holland: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  47. Miller, L. (1994). Traumatic brain injury and aggression. The Psychobiology of Aggression, 91–103.Google Scholar
  48. Millon, T. (1983). Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory, manual. Minneapolis, MN: Interpretive Scoring Systems.Google Scholar
  49. Moffitt, T.E. (1990). The neuropsychology of juvenile delinquency. In M. Tonry and N. Morris (Eds.). Crime and justice: A review of research (Volume 12). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  50. Moffitt, T.E., & Mednick, S.A. (Eds.). (1988). Biological contributions to crime causation. Boston: Martinus Nijhoff(published in cooperation with NATO Scientific Affairs Division).Google Scholar
  51. Murphy, C.M., Meyer, S., & O’Leary, K.D. (1993). Family of origin violence and MCMI-II psychopathology among partner assaultive men. Violence and Victims, 8(2), 165–176.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. O’Leary, K.D., Barling, J., Arias, I., Rosenbaum, A., Malone, J., & Tyree, A. (1989). Prevalence and stability of physical aggression between spouses: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Consutling and Clinical Pyschology, 57,263–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. O’ Leary, K.D., Malone, J., & Tyree, A. (1994). Physical aggression in early marriage: Prerelationship and relationship effects. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 594–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pan, H., Neidig, P., O’Leary, D. (1994). Predicting mild and severe husband to wife physical aggression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 975–981.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Patrick, C.J. (1994). Emotion and psychopathy: Startling new insights. Psychophysiology, 31, 319–330.Google Scholar
  56. Raine, A. (1993). The Psychopathology of Crime: Criminal Behavior as a Clinical Disorder. San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  57. Raine, A., Brennan, P., & Farrington, D. (in preparation). Biosocial bases of violence: Conceptual and theoretical issues. In A. Raine, P. Brennan, D.P. Farrington, & S.A. Mednick (Eds.). Biosocial bases of violence. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  58. Raine, A., Brennan, P, & Mednick, S. (1994). Birth complications combined with early maternal rejection at age 1 year predispose to violent crime at age 18 years. Archives of General Psychiatry, 51, 984–988.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Raine, A. & Scerbo, A. (1991). Biological theories of violence. In J.S. Milner (Ed.) Neuropsychology of aggression (pp. 1–25). Boston: Kluwer Academic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Raine, A., & Venables, P.H. (1984). Electordermal non-responding, schizoid tendencies, and antisocial behavior in adolescents. Psychophysiology, 21, 424–433.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Raine, A., Venables, P.H., & Williams, M. (1995). High autonomic arousal and electrodermal orienting at age 15 years as protective factors against criminal behavior at age 29 years. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152, 1595–1600.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Raine, A., Venables, P.H., & Williams, M. (1990). Relationships between central and autonomic measures of arousal at age 15 years and criminality at age 24 years. Archives of General Psychiatry, 47, 1003–1007.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Rosenbaum, A., & Hoge, S.K. (1989). Head injury and male aggression. American Journal of Psychiatry, 146, 1048–1051.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Rosenbaum, A., Hoge, S.K., Adelman, S.A., Warnken, W.J., Fletcher, K.E., & Kane, R.L. (1994). Head injury in partner-abusive men. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 1187–1193.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Saunders, D.G. (1995). Prediction of wife assault. In J.C. Campbell (Ed.). Assessing Dangerousness. (pp. 68–95). Sage.Google Scholar
  66. Schalling, D., Edman, G, & Asberg, M. (1983). Impulsive cognitive style and ability to tolerate boredom: Psychobiological studies of temperamental vulnerability. in M. Zuckerman (Ed.). Biological bases of sensation seeking, impulsivity, and anxiety (pp. 110–137). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  67. Stets, J.E., & Straus, M.A. (1989). The marriage license as a hitting license: A comparison of assaults in dating co-habitating and married couples. Journal of Family Violence, 4, 161–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Straus, M.A. & Gelles, R.J. (1990). Physical violence in American families: Risk factors and adaptionto violence in 8,145 families. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.Google Scholar
  69. Straus, M.A. & Gelles, R.J. (1986). Societal change and change in family violence from 1975 to 1985 as revealed by two national surveys. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 48,465–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Straus, M.A., Gelles, R.J., & Steinmetz, S.K. (1980). Behind closed doors: Violence in the American Family. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  71. Warnken, W.J., Rosenbaum, A., Fletcher, K.E., Hoge, S.K., & Adelman, S.A. (1994). Head-injured males: A population at risk for relationship aggression? Violence and Victims, 9, 153–165.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. Werner, E. E. (1987). Vulnerability and resiliency in children at risk for delinquency: A longitudinal study from birth to adulthood. In J.D. Burchard & S.N. Burchard (Eds.). Primary Prevention of Psychopathology, (pp. 16–43). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil S. Jacobson
    • 1
  • Eric T. Gortner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations