Ph.D., Hofstra University, 1994
Clinical and School Psychology
Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences
703 3rd St.
West Lafayette, IN 47907
e-mail: eckhardt at purdue dot edu
(1) Intimate Partner Violence: Cognitive and Emotional Risk Factors among Male Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence.
-- Our lab examines cognitive distortions and anger arousal during laboratory affect induction; in other words, what goes through the minds of partner violent men during emotionally charged relationship conflicts?
-- A series of studies funded by NIMH and the H. F. Guggenheim Foundation have found that both maritally violent men and male perpetrators of dating violence articulate more irrational beliefs and cognitive biases during anger arousal than relevant nonviolent controls, but were less likely to spontaneously generate anger-controlling, prosocial cognitions (Eckhardt, Barbour, & Davison, 1998; Eckhardt & Kassinove, 1998; Eckhardt & Jamison, 2002). Higher levels of cognitive distortions also discriminated severely violent and “mildly” aggressive husbands. These group differences were not apparent on self-report measures of cognition, suggesting that anger arousal may have made such cognitions more accessible (for a review see Eckhardt & Dye, 2000).
-- Another major focus of our lab is the emotion of ANGER among perpetrators of IPV. Reviews have suggested that anger is a moderate but consistent correlate with IPV perpetration (Eckhardt, Barbour, & Stuart, 1997; Norlander & Eckhardt, 2005). In our laboratory studies, violent men do not directly express anger as a verbal statement, but rather they skip this affective communication step in favor of more insulting and belligerent communication styles (Barbour et al., 1998; Eckhardt, Jamison, & Watts, 2002).
-- Other research has examined whether anger disturbances predict poorer outcomes of abusive men mandated to attend batterer intervention and prevention programs. Across two different samples of violent offenders, we have found three distinct anger-based clusters of partner violent men: (1) High Anger-Dyscontrol group (30% of sample; high scores on trait anger, anger out, partner violence, externalizing psychopathology, substance use; low scores on anger control); (2) a Moderate Anger-Overcontrolled group (7% of sample; moderate scores on trait anger, anger out, anger control, and partner violent; high scores on anger in); and (3) A Low Anger group (63% of sample; normative scores across all measures). The key findings are that men in the High Anger group are more likely to drop out of treatment and more likely to reoffend than men in the other groups (Eckhardt, Samper, & Murphy, 2008; Murphy, Taft, & Eckhardt, 2007). These findings suggest that for some men (but certainly not all) anger-based treatments are viable post-adjudication options, especially for those men with identified anger control problems. The next step in this research area is to determine whether and for whom such interventions are effective.
-- Our efforts to translate some of this work into viable intervention programs for abusive men are in early stages of development (Eckhardt & Schram, in press).
(2) The stages and processes of behavior change among batterers mandated to treatment.
-- We are interested in whether and how men mandated to attend batterers intervention programs change their behavior and refrain from future violence.
-- Once they’ve been charged with an assault offense and mandated by a judge to attend a batterers counseling group for the next 6-12 months, one might think that assaultive males might finally get their lives back on track, if for no other reason than they’ve not much lower to go. Unfortunately, 30-40% of partner assaultive males will reassault soon after adjudication, and a whopping 40-70% drop out treatment by the third or fourth week. Based upon previous research (Eckhardt, Babcock, & Homack, 2004), we predicted that such men are likely to enter treatment with differential “readiness to change” that will match with varying levels of success with the approaches used by various treatment centers. With funding from the US Department of Justice, we followed 200 men as they went through this treatment to examine their movement through the “stages of change,” their usage of behavior change processes, attrition from treatment, and partner-reported levels of violence and abusive behavior during the six month treatment phase as well as six months post-treatment. Results suggest that most abusers present to a batterer intervention program with little to no motivation to change. Men who were in the precontemplative stage were more likely to be rearrested during the 13-month study period than those in more advanced stages of change. Interestingly, subtypes of men based upon violence frequency, severity, and generality as well as the presence of personality disorders and psychopathology were stronger predictors of dropout and reoffending than readiness to change (Eckhardt et al., 2008; Eckhardt & Utschig, 2007).
-- More needs to be done to create new batterer intervention programs based on research findings rather than adherence to a particular ideology (see Eckhardt, Murphy, Black, & Suhr, 2006). The stakes are simply too high and the outcomes too tragic for victims of violence to offer anything but the most effective intervention to abuse perpetrators available. Along with Chris Murphy at the University of Maryland, we’ve outlined a novel approach to abuser treatment in a treatment manual, Treating the Abusive Partner: An Individualized, Cognitive Behavioral Approach, published by Guilford Press. One core message of this approach is that men will be poorly inclined to make the changes mandated by the criminal justice system unless they are ready and motivated to make those change. Evaluating methods of increasing motivation that rely less on confrontation than is common in most batterer intervention programs is a primary research goal, as is determining the usefulness of focusing on anger control as an intervention strategy.
(3) The effects of alcohol intoxication on anger and aggressive behavior.
-- Our lab examines the acute effects of alcohol intoxication on aggression during imagined relationship conflict
-- In a prior study, we found that the alcohol-aggression relationship is moderated by aggressivity, or one’s dispositional level of aggressive responding (Eckhardt & Crane, 2008). This suggested that men with a history of intimate partner violence might be especially at risk for violence perpetration when intoxicated. With funding from NIAAA, we examined the role of alcohol intoxication in intimate partner violence. There is a strong, but not quite causal, relationship among these factors, but very little data concerning the role of acute alcohol intoxication in specific episodes of violence. So, we randomly assigned men with and without a history of intimate partner violence to receive alcohol, placebo, or no alcohol and then had all men undergo ATSS anger arousal in our lab. Results indicated that partner violent men given alcohol were the most likely of all subject groups to show increases in aggressive verbalizations during anger arousal. This finding suggests that alcohol may perhaps have a specific and direct influence on aggressive responding among those already vulnerable to act aggressively (Eckhardt, 2007). We are currently analyzing whether alcohol intoxication affects social information processing factors involved in partner violence.
(4) PTSD, Alcohol Use, and Intimate Partner Violence.
-- Along with colleagues at the National Center for PTSD and the Boston VA, we are in the early stages of investigating the interaction of PTSD symptoms, alcohol use, social information processing factors, and partner violence. Specifically, cognitive biases and deficits during anger arousal were examined as mediators of the association between PTSD symptoms and indices of IPV in a sample of 100 OEF/OIF veterans. Preliminary analyses of a portion of these data (n = 25) indicate findings consistent with hypotheses, with large associations among PTSD symptoms, anger, indices of cognitive biases and deficits, and physical and psychological IPV perpetration (Taft et al., 2009). Findings also indicated that irrational beliefs accounted for 31% of the relationship between PTSD severity and physical IPV, and trait anger accounted for 46% of this relationship, with these meditational effects reaching statistical significance. With psychological IPV perpetration as the outcome, significant indirect effects emerged for trait anger (70%), anger expression (88%), and anger control (42%). These preliminary findings indicate the importance of examining anger and cognitive variables with respect to the PTSD-IPV relationship.
(5) Anger Disorders: Development and validation of diagnostic criteria and diagnostic categories for individuals with anger problems.
-- Anger problems can be destructive personally, interpersonally, and socially; why doesn’t the DSM-IV recognize such problems as legitimate disorders?
-- It’s been said that unless aggression is involved, researchers just aren’t that interested in anger. Over the years, we have outlined arguments in support of adding anger-related disorders to forthcoming editions of DSM (e.g., Eckhardt & Deffenbacher, 1995). This is not to suggest that we think that angry people are mentally ill, but that including anger disorders in DSM would lead to more focused studies of beneficial treatment and prevention programs for angry individuals since there would be official diagnostic criteria. With such criteria, funding agencies would be more inclined to support research projects on anger since people could be recruited into treatment studies according to an agreed-upon set of symptoms. These studies, in turn, may lead to useful new treatment and prevention approaches that not only stand to benefit the individual suffering from anger disorders, but their friends and loved ones, as well as society at large, who so often bear the brunt of these anger problems.
Eckhardt, C., & Schram, J. (in press). Cognitive behavioral interventions for partner abusive men. To appear in P. Lehmann (Ed.), Interventions for intimate partner violence: A strengths approach. NY: Springer.
Eckhardt, C. I., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Norlander, B., Sibley, A., & Cahill, M. (2009). Readiness to change,
Partner violence subtypes, and treatment outcomes among men in treatment for partner assault. In R. Maiuro & C. Murphy (Eds.), Motivational Interviewing and Stages of Change in Intimate Partner Violence. NY: Springer.
Murphy, C., Lynch, L., & Eckhardt, C. (2009). Individualized services and individual therapy for partner abuse perpetrators. To appear in O’Leary, D., & Woodin, E. (Eds.) Understanding Psychological and Physical Aggression in Couples: Existing Evidence and Clinical Implications, (pp. 211-232). Wasington D.C.: APA.
Eckhardt, C. I., Samper, R., & Murphy, C. (2008). Anger disturbances among perpetrators of intimate partner violence: Clinical characteristics and outcomes of court-mandated treatment. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 23, 1600-1617.
Eckhardt, C. I., Holtzworth-Munroe, A., Norlander, B., Sibley, A., & Cahill, M. (2008). Readiness to change,
Partner violence subtypes, and treatment outcomes among men in treatment for partner assault. Violence and Victims, 23, 446-475.
Eckhardt, C. I., & Crane, C. (2008). Effects of alcohol intoxication and aggressivity on aggressive verbalizations during anger arousal. Aggressive Behavior, 34, 428-436.Eckhardt, C. I. (2007).
Effects of alcohol intoxication on anger experience and expression among partner assaultive men during anger arousal. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75, 61-71.
Murphy, C., Taft, C. & Eckhardt, C. I. (2007). Anger problem profiles among partner violent men: Differences in clinical presentation and treatment outcome. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 54, 189-200.
Eckhardt, C. I., & Utschig, A. (2007). Assessing readiness to change among perpetrators of intimate partner violence: Analysis of two self-report measures. Journal of Family Violence, 22, 319-330.
Eckhardt, C. I., Murphy, C. M., Black, D., & Suhr, L. (2006). Intervention programs for perpetrators of intimate partner violence: Conclusions from a clinical research perspective. Public Health Reports, 121, 369-381.
Murphy, C., & Eckhardt, C. (Sept. 2005). Treating the Abusive Partner: An Individualized Cognitive-Behavioral Approach. NY: Guilford. [click here to order from Amazon.com]
Babcock, J. C., Canady, B, Senior, A., & Eckhardt, C. I. (2005). Applying the Transtheoretical Model to female and male perpetrators of intimate partner violence: Gender differences in stages and processes of change. Violence and Victims, 20, 235-251.
Norlander, B., & Eckhardt, C. I. (2005). Anger, hostility, and male perpetrators of intimate partner violence: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 25,119-152.
Babcock, J., Costa, D., Green, C., & Eckhardt, C. I. (2004). What situations induce intimate partner violence? A reliability and validity study of the Proximal Antecedents to Violent Episodes Scale (PAVE). Journal of Family Psychology, 18, 433-442.
Eckhardt, C. I., Norlander, B., & Deffenbacher, J. L. (2004). The assessment of anger and hostility: A critical review. Aggression and Violent Behavior: A Review Journal, 9, 17-43.
Eckhardt, C. I., Babcock, J., & Homack, S. (2004). Partner assaultive men and the stages and processes of change. Journal of Family Violence, 19, 81-93.
Eckhardt, C. I., & Jamison, T. R. (2002). Articulated thoughts of male perpetrators of dating violence during anger arousal. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 26, 289-308.
Eckhardt, C. I., Jamison, T. R., & Watts, K. (2002). Experience and expression of anger among male perpetrators of dating violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17, 1102-1114.
GRANTS AND CONTRACTS
¨ Intimate Partner Violence, Anger, and Cognitive Distortions in Combat Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Function: Consultant (C. Taft, PI, Boston V.A., National Center for PTSD)
Agency: Veterans Administration (9/06 – 8/10)
¨ The Role of Power and Control in Intimate Partner Violence
Function: Subcontract PI (competitive subcontract for research design and data collection; Westat, Inc., Contractor)
Agency: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (10/02–6/05)
¨ Individual Behavior Therapy for Partner Violent Men
Function: Consultant (Chris Murphy, PI, University of Maryland B.C.)
Agency: NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
¨ Alcohol, Anger, and the Cognitions of Wife Assaultive Men
Function: Principal Investigator
Agency: NIH/National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
¨ Stages and Processes of Change and Associated Treatment Outcomes in Partner Assaultive Men
Function: Principal Investigator
Agency: Department of Justice/National Institute of Justice
¨ Articulated Cognitive Distortions of Intoxicated Individuals during Anger Arousal
Function: Principal Investigator
Agency: Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation
¨ Processing of Anger-Related Information in Maritally Violent and Nonviolent Men
Function: Co-Principal Investigator
Agency: Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation
¨ Cognitive Processes and Anger in Maritally Violent Men.
Function: Principal Investigator
Agency: NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
I have served on grant review panels for :
National Institute of Justice /USDOJ (multiple panels)
Bureau of Justice Assistance/USDOJ (multiple panels)
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (Panel RFA07002)
NIAAA (Review Group ZAA1)
NIMH (Panel ZMH1 ERB-A)
I serve as an Editorial Board Member for:
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Clinical Psychology Review
Journal of Family Psychology
Times Square hooligans….
1st Division Indoor Champs - Jan 2010,