Push and pushback: Control behavior as a precipitant of verbal and violent disputes

Richard B. Felson, Mark T. Berg, Andrew T. Krajewski, Ethan M. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We examine to what extent control behavior precipitates disputes involving adversaries in different social relationships. We hypothesize that disputes between intimate partners and illegal business partners are more likely than other disputes to involve control because they involve a higher level of interdependence between the participants. A sample of male inmates (n = 479) and nonoffenders (n = 206) were asked whether control behaviors (e.g., verbal commands) precipitated their most recent disputes (n = 1184). Bivariate probit regression models allowed us to examine mutual control as well as unilateral control. Disputes between intimate partners were more likely than disputes between adversaries in other relationships to be precipitated by mutual control, but not unilateral or one-sided control by men. Disputes between illegal business partners also predicted mutual control, but not unilateral control. Discussions of the motives for violence would benefit from consideration of the classic social psychological literature on power and influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-616
Number of pages14
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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