Using I Cubed Theory to Predict the Perpetration of Violence in Adolescent Romantic Relationships

Christina Caiozzo, Marquette University


Although empirical study of teen dating violence has increased substantially over the last decade, few theoretical models have been developed to guide research in this area. The present study draws on Finkel's (2008) I3 model of intimate partner violence, which holds that an impelling force, inhibiting force and instigating trigger are necessary for the perpetration of violence to transpire. Most of the research on the I3 model has been supportive, but few studies have tested it in a sample of late adolescents. The current study utilized data collected over an eight week period to investigate the unique and joint effects of romantic attachment insecurity, emotion regulation and contextual triggers, specifically perceptions of threat in the perpetration of violence. Participants included 761 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 25. Participants completed a battery of measures, including assessments of adult romantic attachment anxiety and avoidance, and emotion regulation, and then completed follow-up assessments every two weeks for up to eight weeks, in which they answered questions about a recent conflict they had with their romantic partner. Results indicated that higher levels of attachment anxiety significantly predicted more instances of dating perpetration for females, but not for males, whereas higher levels of attachment avoidance predicted fewer instances of perpetration, regardless of gender. Better emotion regulation was associated with fewer instances of perpetration. The desire to cause intentional harm as well as the perception that the relationship is being threatened were contextual triggers of violence uniquely associated with attachment insecurity.