Please wait a minute...
Advances in Psychological Science    2019, Vol. 27 Issue (1) : 106-116     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2019.00106
Regular Articles |
Relational aggression in romantic relationship
WANG Hao1,YU Guoliang2()
1 Mental Health Education and Counseling Center, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing 100081, China
2 Institute of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
Download: PDF(580 KB)   HTML
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks     Supporting Info

Relational aggression in romantic relationship refers to behaviors intended to hurt or harm one’s romantic partner through the damage or manipulation of relationships, including direct and indirect aggression, as well as proactive and reactive aggression. Relational aggression in romantic relationship, targeting at the relationship, can be seen as a kind of conflict resolution strategy and is usually reciprocal. Researchers usually use questionnaires to assess relational aggression in romantic relationship. Relational aggression in romantic relationship can decrease relationship quality and mental health level, and induce physical aggression and intimate partner violence. It can be influenced by sex, attachment, power in romantic relationship, and relational aggression in peer relationship. In the future, the researchers should pay attention to the motivation of relational aggression in romantic relationship, clarify the relation between the perpetration and victimization of relational aggression, and strengthen the researches on theorization and targeted intervention.

Keywords relational aggression      romantic relationship      conflict resolution strategy     
ZTFLH:  B849: C91  
Issue Date: 23 November 2018
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
Guoliang YU
Cite this article:   
Hao WANG,Guoliang YU. Relational aggression in romantic relationship[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2019, 27(1): 106-116.
URL:     OR
1 曹丛, 王美萍, 张文新, 纪林芹, 陈亮, 陈欣银 . ( 2014). COMT基因rs6267多态性与母亲教养行为对青少年身体攻击和关系攻击的交互作用. 心理学报,46(10), 1486-1497.
2 纪林芹, 潘斌, 郭菲, 陈亮, 张文新 . ( 2017). 青少年抑制控制与同伴拒绝: 身体攻击,关系攻击的中介作用. 心理科学,40(3), 600-605.
3 李董平, 张卫, 李丹黎, 王艳辉, 甄霜菊 . ( 2012). 教养方式,气质对青少年攻击的影响: 独特,差别与中介效应检验. 心理学报,44(2), 211-225.
4 孙晓军, 范翠英, 热娜古丽·艾赛, 张笑容, 陈洁 . ( 2012). 同伴关系与攻击行为稳定性的关系研究. 心理发展与教育,28(3), 301-307.
5 王浩, 俞国良 . ( 2017). 亲密关系中的权力认知. 心理科学进展,25(4), 639-651.
6 Archer, J., &Coyne S.M . ( 2005). An integrated review of indirect, relational, and social aggression. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 9(3), 212-230.
pmid: 16083361 url:
7 Bagner D. M., Storch E. A., & Preston A. S . ( 2007). Romantic relational aggression: What about gender? Journal of Family Violence, 22(1), 19-24.
8 Banny A. M., Tseng W.-L., Murray-Close D., Pitula C. E., & Crick N. R . ( 2014). Borderline personality features as a predictor of forms and functions of aggression during middle childhood: Examining the roles of gender and physiological reactivity. Development and Psychopathology, 26(3), 789-804.
pmid: 25047299 url:
9 Blossom J. B., Fite P. J., Frazer A. L., Cooley J. L., & Evans S. C . ( 2016). Parental psychological control and aggression in youth: Moderating effect of emotion dysregulation. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 44, 12-20.
10 Bonache H., Gonzalez-Mendez R., & Krahé B . ( 2017). Romantic attachment, conflict resolution styles, and teen dating violence victimization. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(9), 1905-1917.
pmid: 28101748 url:
11 Bonache H., Ramírez-Santana G., & Gonzalez-Mendez R . ( 2016). Conflict resolution styles and teen dating violence. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 16(3), 276-286.
12 Burk, W. J., & Seiffge-Krenke I. ( 2015). One-sided and mutually aggressive couples: Differences in attachment, conflict prevalence, and coping. Child Abuse & Neglect, 50, 254-266.
pmid: 26360706 url:
13 Carroll J. S., Nelson D. A., Yorgason J. B., Harper J. M., Ashton R. H., & Jensen A. C . ( 2010). Relational aggression in marriage. Aggressive Behavior, 36(5), 315-329.
14 Clifford, C. E . ( 2016). Testing the instrumental and reactive motivations of romantic relational aggression (Unpublished doctorial dissertation). Kansas State University, Manhattan.
15 Coyne S. M., Archer J., & Eslea M . ( 2006). “We're not friends anymore! Unless, et al.”: The frequency and harmfulness of indirect, relational, and social aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 32(4), 294-307.
16 Coyne S. M., Nelson D. A., Carroll J. S., Smith N. J., Yang C., Holmgren H. G., & Johnson C . ( 2017). Relational aggression and marital quality: A five-year longitudinal study. Journal of Family Psychology, 31(3), 282-293.
pmid: 28054802 url:
17 Cramer, C. M . ( 2015). Relational aggression/victimization and depression in married couples (Unpublished doctorial dissertation). Brigham Young University, Provo.
18 Crick, N. R., &Grotpeter J.K . ( 1995). Relational aggression, gender, and social-psychological adjustment. Child Development, 66(3), 710-722.
pmid: 7789197 url:
19 Crick N. R., Werner N. E., Casas J. F. , O'Brien, K. M., Nelson, D. A., Grotpeter, J. K., & Markon, K.( 1999). Childhood aggression and gender:A new look at an old problem In D Bernstein (Ed), Nebraska symposium on motivation, Vol 45 Gender and motivation (pp 75-141) Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press A new look at an old problem. In D. Bernstein (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation, Vol. 45. Gender and motivation (pp. 75-141). Lincoln:University of Nebraska Press.
20 Culotta, C. M., &Goldstein S.E . ( 2008). Adolescents' aggressive and prosocial behavior: Associations with jealousy and social anxiety. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 169(1), 21-33.
pmid: 18476475 url:
21 Czar, K. A . ( 2012). Regional differences in relational aggression: The role of culture (Unpublished doctorial dissertation). The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg.
22 Czar K. A., Dahlen E. R., Bullock E. E., & Nicholson B. C . ( 2011). Psychopathic personality traits in relational aggression among young adults. Aggressive Behavior, 37(2), 207-214.
pmid: 21120908 url:
23 El-Sheikh M., Kelly R. J., Koss K. J., & Rauer A. J . ( 2015). Longitudinal relations between constructive and destructive conflict and couples’ sleep. Journal of Family Psychology, 29(3), 349-359.
24 Ellis W. E., Crooks C. V., & Wolfe D. A . ( 2009). Relational aggression in peer and dating relationships: Links to psychological and behavioral adjustment. Social Development, 18(2), 253-269.
25 Ellison J. K., Kouros C. D., Papp L. M., & Cummings E. M . ( 2016). Interplay between marital attributions and conflict behavior in predicting depressive symptoms. Journal of Family Psychology, 30(2), 286-295.
pmid: 4767684 url:
26 Follingstad, D. R . ( 2009). The impact of psychological aggression on women's mental health and behavior: The status of the field. Trauma Violence Abuse, 10(3), 271-289.
pmid: 19460760 url:
27 Follingstad D. R., Coyne S., & Gambone L . ( 2005). A representative measure of psychological aggression and its severity. Violence and Victims, 20(1), 25-38.
pmid: 16047933 url:
28 Goldstein, S. E . ( 2011). Relational aggression in young adults' friendships and romantic relationships. Personal Relationships, 18(4), 645-656.
29 Goldstein S. E., Chesir-Teran D., & McFaul A . ( 2008). Profiles and correlates of relational aggression in young adults' romantic relationships. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37(3), 251-265.
30 Grotpeter, J. K., &Crick N.R . ( 1996). Relational aggression, overt aggression, and friendship. Child Development, 67(5), 2328-2338.
31 Jose, A., &O'Leary K.D . ( 2009). Prevalence of partner aggression in representative and clinic samples. In K. D. O'Leary & E. M. Woodin (Eds.), Psychological and physical aggression in couples: Causes and interventions( pp. 15-35). Washington: American Psychological Association.
32 Kansky, J. ( 2018). What's love got to do with it? Romantic relationships and well-being. In E. Diener, S. Oishi, & L. Tay (Eds.), Handbook of well-being. Salt Lake City, UT: DEF Publishers.
url: Diener, S. Oishi,
33 Leadbeater B. J., Sukhawathanakul P., Holfeld B., & Temple J. R . ( 2017). The effects of continuities in parent and peer aggression on relational intimate partner violence in the transition to young adulthood. Prevention Science, 18(3), 350-360.
pmid: 28120160 url:
34 Lemay E. P., Jr., Clark M. S., & Feeney B. C . ( 2007). Projection of responsiveness to needs and construction of satisfying communcal relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(5), 834-853.
pmid: 17484608 url:
35 Linder J. R., Crick N. R., & Collins W. A . ( 2002). Relational aggression and victimization in young adults' romantic relationships: Associations with perceptions of parent, peer, and romantic relationship quality. Social Development, 11(1), 69-86.
36 Madsen, C. A . ( 2012). The impact of marital power on relational aggression (Unpublished doctorial dissertation). Kansas State University, Manhattan.
37 Marsee M. A., Frick P. J., Barry C. T., Kimonis E. R., Centifanti L. C. M., & Aucoin K. J . ( 2014). Profiles of the forms and functions of self-reported aggression in three adolescent samples. Development and Psychopathology, 26(3), 705-720.
pmid: 25047293 url:
38 Martin M. P., Miller R. B., Kubricht B., Yorgason J. B., & Carroll J. S . ( 2015). Relational aggression and self-reported spousal health: A longitudinal analysis. Contemporary Family Therapy, 37(4), 386-395.
39 Mathieson L. C., Klimes-Dougan B., & Crick N. R . ( 2014). Dwelling on it may make it worse: The links between relational victimization, relational aggression, rumination, and depressive symptoms in adolescents. Development and Psychopathology, 26(3), 735-747.
pmid: 25047295 url:
40 Mayseless, O. ( 1991). Adult attachment patterns and courtship violence. Family Relations, 40(1), 21-28.
41 Menesini E., Nocentini A., Ortega-Rivera F. J., Sanchez V., & Ortega R . ( 2011). Reciprocal involvement in adolescent dating aggression: An Italian-Spanish study. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 8(4), 437-451.
42 Meng, K. N . ( 2013). Couple implicit rules for facilitating disclosure and relationship quality with romantic relational aggression as a mediator (Unpublished doctorial dissertation). Brigham Young University, Provo.
43 Michiels D., Grietens H., Onghena P., & Kuppens S . ( 2008). Parent-child interactions and relational aggression in peer relationships. Developmental Review, 28(4), 522-540.
44 Murphy, C. M., &O'Leary K.D . ( 1989). Psychological aggression predicts physical aggression in early marriage. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57(5), 579-582.
pmid: 2794178 url:
45 Murray-Close, D. ( 2011). Autonomic reactivity and romantic relational aggression among female emerging adults: Moderating roles of social and cognitive risk. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 80(1), 28-35.
pmid: 21251934 url:
46 Murray-Close D., Holland A. S., & Roisman G. I . ( 2012). Autonomic arousal and relational aggression in heterosexual dating couples. Personal Relationships, 19(2), 203-218.
47 Murray-Close D., Nelson D. A., Ostrov J. M., Casas J. F., & Crick N. R . ( 2016). Relational aggression: A developmental psychopathology perspective. In D. Cicchetti (Ed.), Developmental psychopathology: Risk, resilience, and intervention( pp. 660-722). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
48 Murray-Close D., Ostrov J. M., Nelson D. A., Crick N. R., & Coccaro E. F . ( 2010). Proactive, reactive, and romantic relational aggression in adulthood: Measurement, predictive validity, gender differences, and association with Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 44(6), 393-404.
pmid: 19822329 url:
49 Neal A. M ., & Lemay, E. P., Jr.
49 (in press). The wandering eye perceives more threats: Projection of attraction to alternative partners predicts anger and negative behavior in romantic relationships.Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
50 Oka M., Brown C. C., & Miller R. B . ( 2016). Attachment and relational aggression: Power as a mediating variable. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 44(1), 24-35.
51 Oka M., Sandberg J. G., Bradford A. B., & Brown A . ( 2014). Insecure attachment behavior and partner violence: Incorporating couple perceptions of insecure attachment and relational aggression. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 40(4), 412-429.
pmid: 24893884 url:
52 Papp, L. M . ( 2018). Topics of marital conflict in the everyday lives of empty nest couples and their implications for conflict resolution. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 17(1), 7-24.
53 Péloquin K., Lafontaine M.-F., & Brassard A . ( 2011). A dyadic approach to the study of romantic attachment, dyadic empathy, and psychological partner aggression. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 28(7), 915-942.
54 Prather E., Dahlen E. R., Nicholson B. C., & Bullock-Yowell E . ( 2012). Relational aggression in college students' dating relationships. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 21(7), 705-720.
55 Prinstein M. J., Boergers J., & Vernberg E. M . ( 2001). Overt and relational aggression in adolescents: Social- psychological adjustment of aggressors and victims. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30(4), 479-491.
pmid: 11708236 url:
56 Righetti F., Luchies L. B., van Gils S., Slotter E. B., Witcher B., & Kumashiro M . ( 2015). The prosocial versus proself power holder: How power influences sacrifice in romantic relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(6), 779-790.
pmid: 25810413 url:
57 Saini, S., & Singh J. ( 2008). Gender differences in relational aggression and psychosocial problems in romantic relationships among youths. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 34(2), 279-286.
58 Salmivalli, C., & Kaukiainen A. ( 2004). "Female aggression" revisited: Variable- and person-centered approaches to studying gender differences in different types of aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 30(2), 158-163.
59 Schad M. M., Szwedo D. E., Antonishak J., Hare A., & Allen J. P . ( 2008). The broader context of relational aggression in adolescent romantic relationships: Predictions from peer pressure and links to psychosocial functioning. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37(3), 346-358.
pmid: 2409192 url:
60 Schrodt P., Witt P. L., & Shimkowski J. R . ( 2014). A meta-analytical review of the demand/withdraw pattern of interaction and its associations with individual, relational, and communicative outcomes. Communication Monographs, 81(1), 28-58.
61 Seiffge-Krenke, I., &Burk W.J . ( 2015). The dark side of romantic relationships: Aggression in adolescent couples and links to attachment. Mental Health & Prevention, 3(4), 135-142.
62 Soenens B., Vansteenkiste M., Goossens L., Duriez B., & Niemiec C. P . ( 2008). The intervening role of relational aggression between psychological control and friendship quality. Social Development, 17(3), 661-681.
63 Stappenbeck, C. A., & Fromme K. ( 2014). The effects of alcohol, emotion regulation, and emotional arousal on the dating aggression intentions of men and women. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 28(1), 10-19.
pmid: 23586449 url:
64 Timmons A. C., Arbel R., & Margolin G . ( 2017). Daily patterns of stress and conflict in couples: Associations with marital aggression and family-of-origin aggression. Journal of Family Psychology, 31(1), 93-104.
pmid: 27504754 url:
65 Tougas C., Péloquin K., & Mondor J . ( 2016). Romantic attachment and perception of partner support to explain psychological aggression perpetrated in couples seeking couples therapy. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 5(4), 197-211.
66 Tseng W.-L., Banny A. M., Kawabata Y., Crick N. R., & Gau S. S.-F . ( 2013). A cross-lagged structural equation model of relational aggression, physical aggression, and peer status in a Chinese culture. Aggressive Behavior, 39(4), 301-315.
pmid: 23606625 url:
67 Viejo C., Monks C. P., Sánchez V., & Ortega-Ruiz R . ( 2016). Physical dating violence in Spain and the United Kingdom and the importance of relationship quality. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 31(8), 1453-1475.
pmid: 25604968 url:
68 Voulgaridou, I., &Kokkinos C.M . ( 2015). Relational aggression in adolescents: A review of theoretical and empirical research. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 23, 87-97.
69 Werner, N. E., &Crick N.R . ( 1999). Relational aggression and social-psychological adjustment in a college sample. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 108(4), 615-623.
pmid: 10609426 url:
70 Willoughby B. J., Carroll J. S., Busby D. M., & Brown C. C . ( 2016). Differences in pornography use among couples: Associations with satisfaction, stability, and relationship processes. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45(1), 145-158.
pmid: 26228990 url:
71 Woodin E. M., Sukhawathanakul P., Caldeira V., Homel J., & Leadbeater B . ( 2016). Pathways to romantic relational aggression through adolescent peer aggression and heavy episodic drinking. Aggressive Behavior, 42(6), 563-576.
pmid: 26990794 url:
72 Wright E.M., &Benson M.L . ( 2010). Relational aggression, intimate partner violence, and gender: An exploratory analysis. Victims and Offenders, 5(4), 283-302.
[1] NIU Lu; LEI Li; XIE Xiaochun. The role of social networking sites in romantic relationships[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2016, 24(12): 1926-1933.
[2] LI Jian;LI Yi-Ming. Trade-off in Love: To Maintain or Restore Psychological Equity in the Process of Give and Take Among Romantic Partners[J]. , 2012, 20(4): 598-607.
[3] LIU Wen;MAO Jing-Jing. The Development and Prospects of Research on Adolescents’ Romantic Relationship[J]. , 2011, 19(7): 1011-1019.
[4] YANG Lin-Pei;SHI Wei. Adolescent Romantic Relationships: Research Orientation, Methods, and Influencing Factors[J]. , 2011, 19(3): 372-381.
Full text



Copyright © Advances in Psychological Science
Support by Beijing Magtech