Reliability and Validity of Scales Assessing Incidence of Interpartner Violence Among College Students

Janet Garcia

Luis F. Rocha


Faculty Mentors: Gaithri Fernando, Ph.D.

Heidi R. Riggio, Ph.D.


Domestic violence (commonly referred to as interpartner violence or IPV) is pervasive and often lethal; IPV leads to the death of four women every day in the United States, and is the chief cause of injury for women aged 15-44 years. Children often experience violence at the hand of the same person perpetrating violence against adult partners or witness violence between their caregivers. In addition, children who watch their parents engage in IPV may be more likely to be perpetrators and victims of IPV themselves. However the measure most commonly used to assess conflict resolution, the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2; Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman, 1996), has not been validated in a multi-ethnic setting. The current study involved the development validation of a measure of interpersonal violence (IPVS) similar to and based on the CTS among a multi-ethnic college student population. Undergraduate students (N = 106) representing several different ethnocultural groups (Hispanic, African American, Caucasian, Asian) completed two forms of the 15-item IPVS: one relating to their own conflict resolution behavior (IPVS-Self) and the other relating to the conflict resolution behaviors of their partner (IPVS-Partner). Additionally, exposure in childhood to parental IPV was assessed by modifying the items of the IPVS for each parent (e.g. seeing one’s father kick one’s mother; seeing one’s mother hit one’s father), and validating these measures. High internal reliability was obtained for all four measures (Cronbach’s α = .79 for Self; .83 for Partner; .91 for Father; .77 for Mother). Neither ethnicity nor exposure to parental conflict nor acculturation was significantly related to one’s own likelihood of becoming either a perpetrator or victim in this sample. However father’s alcohol use (frequency and severity) significantly predicted of both father’s and mother’s (but not one’s own) tendency to resort to violence in interpersonal conflict (beta =.47, p <.05). Compared to men, women reported perpetrating more verbal violence against their partners [F(1, 104) = 4.8, p < .05] and being exposed to their mother’s verbal violence against their fathers [F(1, 102) = 4.3, p < .05]. Further potential uses for the IPVS in future research with college populations are discussed.