Gender, Escalatory Tendencies, and Verbal Aggression in Intimate Relationships

Zeev Winstok, Ronit Smadar-Dror

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the relationship between gender, escalatory tendencies, and the use of verbal aggression among four types of heterosexual dyads: couples with no verbal aggression, man-only verbal aggression, woman-only verbal aggression, and both-partner verbal aggression. The study was based on a community sample of 65 couples (130 men and women). The findings show that while there is no gender difference in the prevalence and incidence of verbal aggression, there is a difference in the levels of motivation to put one’s partner “in his or her place” and avoid a confrontation with one’s partner. Thus, there is a gender difference in escalatory tendency. This difference is evident in the greater motivation to put one’s partner in his or her place observed among women, as compared with men, and in the lower motivation to avoid confrontation observed among women, as compared with men. Moreover, unlike among men, among women, the motivation to put one’s partner in his place is higher than the motivation to avoid confrontation. It follows that the escalatory tendency among women is greater than the escalatory tendency among men. The findings also demonstrate significant gender differences in motivations and escalatory tendencies within the different types of dyads examined. These findings establish the relationship between escalation and aggression and also provide a glimpse into the mechanisms that sustain that relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5383-5400
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • conflict escalation
  • intimate partner conflicts
  • theory of gender motivations
  • verbal aggression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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