Risky Interactions: Relational and Developmental Moderators of Substance Use and Dating Aggression

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Physical dating aggression is a prevalent and costly public health concern. A theoretical moderator model of substance use and dating aggression posits that associations between them are moderated by relational risk factors. To test these theoretical expectations, the current study examined seven waves of longitudinal data on a community-based sample of 100 male and 100 female participants in a Western U.S. city (M age Wave 1 = 15.83; 69.5% White non-Hispanic, 12.5% Hispanic, 11.5% African Americans, & 12.5% Hispanics). Multilevel models examined how links between substance use and dating aggression varied by relational risk and how these patterns changed developmentally. Main effects of relational risk and substance use emerged, particularly in adolescence. In young adulthood significant three-way interactions emerged such that substance use was more strongly associated with physical aggression when conflict and jealousy were higher. Thus, relational risk factors are integral to models of dating aggression, but their role changes developmentally.

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