Self-Regulatory Failure and Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration

Eli J. Finkel, C. Nathan DeWall, Erica B. Slotter, Megan Oaten, Vangie A. Foshee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

336 Scopus citations


Five studies tested the hypothesis that self-regulatory failure is an important predictor of intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration. Study 1 participants were far more likely to experience a violent impulse during conflictual interaction with their romantic partner than they were to enact a violent behavior, suggesting that self-regulatory processes help individuals refrain from perpetrating IPV when they experience a violent impulse. Study 2 participants high in dispositional self-control were less likely to perpetrate IPV, in both cross-sectional and residualized-lagged analyses, than were participants low in dispositional self-control. Study 3 participants verbalized more IPV-related cognitions if they responded immediately to partner provocations than if they responded after a 10-s delay. Study 4 participants whose self-regulatory resources were experimentally depleted were more violent in response to partner provocation (but not when unprovoked) than were nondepleted participants. Finally, Study 5 participants whose self-regulatory resources were experimentally bolstered via a 2-week training regimen exhibited less violent inclinations than did participants whose self-regulatory resources had not been bolstered. These findings hint at the power of incorporating self-regulation dynamics into predictive models of IPV perpetration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-499
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • aggression
  • intimate partner violence
  • relationships
  • self-control
  • self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Self-Regulatory Failure and Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this