Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Science

Faculty

Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Dr Maria Allan

Second Advisor

Professor Alfred Allan

Abstract

Intimate partner abuse (IPA) is a significant social issue with diverse and complex risk factors. Recent attention, however, has been placed on the individual psychological and emotional factors associated with IPA, including deficits in the processing of emotions. The construct of alexithymia, which involves difficulties identifying and describing emotions, integrates some of these emotional deficits. Currently, no published research has examined the levels of alexithymia among Australian men who perpetrate IPA. The aim of the current study was to compare the alexithymia levels of IPA perpetrators (n = 31) with those of men from the general community (n = 34) using the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale. IPA perpetrators were recruited from IPA intervention programs run by various organisations in Western Australia. The results showed that IPA perpetrators had significantly higher levels of alexithymia than community sample men. However, it was found that IPA perpetrators only scored higher than community men on subscales which measure difficulties identifying and difficulties describing emotions; the groups did not differ on the subscale which measures externally oriented thinking style. A post hoc analysis was then conducted comparing alexithymia scores of IPA perpetrators with incarcerated violent and non-violent offenders, which found that IPA perpetrators scored significantly lower than incarcerated offenders on externally oriented thinking style; no other differences were significant. The findings of this thesis suggest that alexithymia levels, particularly difficulties recognising and verbalising emotions, are higher among IPA perpetrators than the general community, and that these deficits may play an important role in IPA perpetration

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