The why and what of intimate conflict: Effect of the partners' divergent perceptions on verbal aggression

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The aim of this study is to explore the effect on expressions of verbal aggression of intimate partners' divergent perceptions of what the conflict is about (its subject) and why fight over it (its motive), together with the effect of the period of cohabitation. The study focused on the couple as the unit of analysis. A structured self-report questionnaire was administered to a stratified probability sample drawn from the general population in Israel, including 452 couples (904 men and women). Findings show that there is an association between the couples' divergent perceptions of the conflict motive and of its subject, and that these disagreements amplify the partners' aggression toward each other. However, the perception of conflict motive has a stronger effect on the expressions of aggression than that of conflict subject, while duration of cohabitation has a moderating effect on the divergent perceptions of conflict subject and on aggression between the partners. The discussion embraces both the theoretical and practical implications of the findings, as well as the limitations of the study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-468
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Family Violence
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is based on data from the First Israeli National Survey of Family Violence and Children at Risk conducted in 2000–2001, commissioned and funded by the Ministry of Labor and Welfare and carried out by the Minerva Center for Youth Studies at the University of Haifa.


  • Conflict escalation
  • Divergent perceptions
  • Intimate conflict
  • Intimate violence
  • Verbal aggression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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