Understanding psychological characteristics that differentiate stalking and interpersonal violence

Mr. Bradley Reich1,2, Assoc. Prof. Troy McEwan1,2,3, Dr. Margaret Nixon1,2

1Centre For Forensic Behavioural Science, Alphington, Australia, 2Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia, 3Forensicare, Clifton Hill, Australia

It has been suggested that cognitive and affective factors related to interpersonal violence could be similarly used to understand and explain stalking behaviour. This paper presents research examining whether cognitive and affective factors identified as relevant to violence and stalking, respectively, can differentiate between people who stalk and those who engage in interpersonal violence (e.g, physical assault) but not stalking. The project used a between groups cross-sectional analysis with adults recruited from a university research pool (N = 829, average age = 30). Based on their response to self-report questionnaires, participants were classified into three groups; a) individuals who self-report stalking only, b) interpersonal violence only, and c) both stalking and interpersonal violence. It was hypothesised that those reporting interpersonal violence would endorse violent attitudes, antisocial intent and aggressive script rehearsal more strongly than those endorsing only stalking, while persons who stalked would endorse more rumination than those reporting only interpersonal violence (after controlling for psychological distress and impression management). Findings from this research will be used to inform the development of theories of stalking behaviour, and subsequently psychological interventions for stalking behaviour.


Bradley Reich is a provisionally registered psychologist and is currently in the final year of the Doctor of Psychology (Clinical and Forensic Psychology) at Swinburne University. His doctoral research project has involved examining cognitive and affective factors associated with stalking behaviours and interpersonal aggression, while prior research has involved completing a data linkage project on fatal family violence. He is a current member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and the Australian & New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law (ANZAPPL).

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