Dating Aggression and Observed Behaviors in a Nonconflictual Situation: The Role of Negative Anticipation

Marie Ève Daspe, Reout Arbel, Hannah F. Rasmussen, Gayla Margolin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Past observational studies highlight meaningful behavioral differences between aggressive and nonaggressive couples during conflict interactions. However, research is needed on how aggressive couples communicate in other, nonconflictual interactional contexts. This study investigates how dating partners’ perpetration of physical aggression relates to observed behaviors during a laboratory-based discussion during which dating couples planned a date together. We also investigated whether negative anticipation of the upcoming discussion influences dating partners’ observed behaviors. Results showed that perpetration of dating aggression from one partner is linked to more negative behaviors from the other partner during the discussion. This association, however, is moderated by negative anticipation of the discussion; the link between aggression from one’s partner and negative behaviors is significant at high levels (+1 SD) but not at low levels (–1 SD)of negative anticipation. One’s own dating aggression also relates to fewer positive behaviors during the discussion. Findings suggest that couple aggression spills over to and potentially degrades the discussion of even nonthreatening, potentially enjoyable communications. Results also underscore negative anticipation of an interaction as a potential risky process that increases the likelihood of antagonistic exchanges between partners. The discussion addresses putative pathways between partner aggression and generalized communication patterns, and potential bi-directional effects with negative anticipation. We also discuss practical implications and targets of intervention to counteract the establishment of problematic communication dynamics in young couples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)NP18215-NP18237
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number19-20
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 SAGE Publications.


  • anticipation
  • couple interactions
  • dating aggression
  • dating couples
  • observed behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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