Relationship violence is a problem that may affect up to 80% of the United States population. Understanding the victim/survivor’s experience may be key to providing effective prevention and intervention. The present study was designed to explore the relationship between women’s empathy and their experience of violent intimate relationships. Participants were 279 women who completed online self-report measures: the Conflict Tactics Scale-2 to measure psychological, physical, and sexual relationship aggression; the Interpersonal Reactivity Index to measure four empathy subscales (Fantasy, Personal Distress, Perspective Taking, and Empathic Concern); and demographic questions. Responses were analyzed using Ward’s method of hierarchical cluster analysis, an exploratory analysis that can provide nuanced information about groups of people. Participants were clustered using the IRI subscale scores and a three cluster solution was determined to best fit the data. The empathy profiles that emerged showed 2 clusters with high scores in Perspective Taking, Empathic Concern, and Fantasy, and diverging on Personal Distress scores (cluster 1 was low, cluster 2 was high). The third cluster had relatively low scores in Perspective Taking, Empathic Concern, and Fantasy, and average Personal Distress scores. Descriptive statistics were calculated to compare clusters on abuse and demographic variables. Members of cluster 1 reported the highest rates of severe abuse, members of cluster 2 reported the lowest rates of severe abuse, and members of cluster 3 reported mid-range rates of severe abuse. Clusters were compared using ANOVA and chi-square and no significant differences were found between clusters on abuse or demographic variables.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.May 2016. Major: Educational Psychology. Advisor: Patricia McCarthy Veach. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 81 pages.
Relationship between Women's Empathy and Their Experience of Violent Intimate Relationships: An Exploratory Study.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.