A self-determination theory approach to problematic drinking and intimate partner violence

Lindsey M. Rodriguez, Angelo M. DiBello, Robert Wickham, Benjamin W. Hadden, Zachary G. Baker, Camilla S. Øverup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Problematic drinking has long been established as an important antecedent to the perpetration of intimate partner violence (IPV). As little research has evaluated individual differences beyond anger in this association, this research examines problematic drinking and IPV perpetration through the lens of self-determination theory (SDT), the relational perspective suggesting individuals are motivated to be in their relationship for autonomous (i.e., self-driven) and controlled (i.e., guilt-driven) reasons. We test the hypothesis that problematic drinking is more strongly associated with IPV among those who are controlled in their motivation in four independent samples (N = 617). College students in relationships completed measures of alcohol consumption, negative alcohol-related consequences, relationship motivation, and IPV perpetration. Results generally suggested that the association between both alcohol consumption and negative alcohol-related consequences and IPV perpetration is only significant among those endorsing greater controlled motivation. This study supports problematic drinking as not being an equal risk factor for all individuals, and suggests that some people may be more vulnerable to problematic drinking resulting in relationship aggression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-235
Number of pages11
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


  • Alcohol
  • College students
  • Partner abuse
  • Relationship motivation


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