Leaving an Abusive Dating Relationship: A Prospective Analysis of the Investment Model and Theory of Planned Behavior


The purpose of the current study was to build on the existing literature to better understand young women’s leaving processes in abusive dating relationships using a prospective design. Two social psychological models—the investment model and theory of planned behavior—were tested. According to the investment model, relationship continuation is predicted by commitment, which is a function of investment, satisfaction, and low quality of alternatives. The theory of planned behavior asserts that a specific behavior is predicted by an individual’s intention to use a behavior, which is a function of the individual’s attitudes toward the behavior, the subjective norms toward the behavior, and the individual’s perceived behavioral control over the behavior. College women (N = 169 young women in abusive relatinships) completed surveys at two time points, approximately 4 months apart, to assess initially for the presence of intimate partner violence (IPV) in a current relationship and investment model and theory of planned behavior variables; the purpose of the 4-month follow-up session was to determine if women had remained in or terminated their abusive relationship. Path analytic results demonstrated that both the theory of planned behavior and investment models were good fits to the data in prospectively predicting abused women’s stay/leave decisions. However, the theory of planned behavior was a better fit to the data than the investment model. Implications for future research and intervention are discussed.



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Journal of Interpersonal Violence


Sage Publications

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