Factor analysis of the partner and stranger versions of the Conflict Tactics Scale
Ballinger, Buddy C
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The Conflict Tactics Scale (GTS; Straus, 1979) is the most widely used instrument for measuring violence between romantic partners (Schafer, 1996). Responses to the CTS in studies of partner and parent-child violence have previously been factor analyzed with differing results. This study is the first to examine the factor structure of the stranger version of the CTS. CTS data were collected from 3,391 undergraduate introductory psychology students (1,116 men and 2,275 women). The responses of 1,770 of the participants (586 men and 1,184 women) to the to partner (self reported behavior toward partner), by partner (reports of partner's behaviors), to stranger (self reported behavior toward strangers), and by stranger (reports of stranger's behaviors) versions of the CTS were factor analyzed. In all but one of the exploratory factor analyses of the men's and women's data, 4 factors emerged (Physical Aggression, Severe Physical Aggression, Verbal- Psychological Aggression, and Reasoning), although there were minor differences between them in some of the specific items which loaded onto these factors. In the men's by stranger responses, 3 factors emerged: Reasoning-Conflict Avoidance, Verbal Aggression-Threats-Mild Violence, and Serious Physical Violence. The GTS responses of 1,621 of the participants (530 men and 1,091 women) were included in a series of confirmatory factor analyses, the results of which indicated that the factor structures obtained with the exploratory factor analyses were good matches for the data, with the exception of the men by stranger version which was an adequate fit. A subsample of the respondents (n = 1,291; 419 men and 872 women) also completed the Short Michigan Alcohol Screening Test. Chi-square analyses suggested that alcohol abuse related differently to partner and stranger violence. Male alcohol abusers were more likely to engage in stranger violence perpetration, but not partner violence perpetration. Male alcohol abusers were also more likely to be the victims of stranger violence. The only significant relationship between alcohol and violence for women was that women alcohol abusers were more likely to perpetrate verbal aggression and violence toward partners. These results provided evidence of different underlying psychological dynamics for partner and stranger violence. Implications of the findings and suggestions for future research and adaptations of the CTS are presented.