Christopher I. Eckhardt, Ph.D.

Purdue University

Department of Psychological  Sciences

West Lafayette, IN 47907



My research is broadly interested in the investigation of psychological risk factors for intimate partner violence (IPV), the role played by alcohol use in understanding how these risk factors dynamically operate, and in understanding how these factors may translate into effective treatments for IPV perpetrators. Our lab has examined these areas using innovative research methods and empirically supported models of IPV.






- Cognitive and Emotional Risk Factors among 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 IPV perpetrators during emotionally charged relationship conflicts, and do these factors predict laboratory aggression?

-- With funding from NIMH, NIJ, and the H.F. Guggenheim Foundation, we have found that IPV perpetrators report more cognitive distortions than nonviolent individuals, especially during anger arousing simulations of relationship conflict (Eckhardt, Barbour, & Davison, 1998; Eckhardt & Kassinove, 1998; Eckhardt & Jamison, 2002).

-- We have also reported that IMPLICIT cognitive distortions assessed with the implicit association test (specifically attitudes that positively evaluate aggression) differentiate among individuals with and without a history of IPV (Eckhardt et al., 2012) and predict important treatment outcomes among IPV perpetrators on probation for assaultive behavior towards an intimate partner (Eckhardt & Crane, in press).

-- Another major focus of our lab is the emotion of ANGER among perpetrators of IPV. Our qualitative and quantitative reviews of the literature have suggested that anger is a moderate but consistent correlate with IPV perpetration (Eckhardt, Barbour, & Stuart, 1997; Norlander & Eckhardt, 2005; Weber & Eckhardt, under review). 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). Clinically, we have clear evidence indicating that IPV perpetrators involved with the criminal justice system who have higher levels of anger and more severe anger-related problems have higher rates of attrition from partner abuse treatment programs and higher rates of both general and IPV-related recidivism (Eckhardt, Samper, & Murphy, 2008; Murphy, Taft, & Eckhardt, 2007).

-- We have attempted to model how these cognitive and affective factors may predict IPV-related behaviors at the process level. Along with colleague Eli Finkel at Northwestern, our lab has advanced a process-oriented, metatheoretical model of IPV called I3 (“I-cubed”) theory that focuses on three necessary and interactive processes for understanding IPV: Instigating factors, Impelling factors, and Inhibitory processes. IPV is more likely when instigating factors are present (e.g., a heated argument with a partner), when the individual possesses traits or is in situations that are aggression impelling (high trait anger), and is in a state of disinhibition (alcohol intoxication). For more details about I3 Theory, see Finkel & Eckhardt (2013).

- 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 among those at high risk for IPV.

  1. -- In a study funded by the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation, 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.

  2. -- With funding from NIAAA, we examined the role of alcohol intoxication in intimate partner violence. We randomly assigned men with and without a history of IPV to receive alcohol, placebo, or no alcohol and then had all men undergo 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, especially those with high levels of state and trait anger (Eckhardt, 2007).

  3. -- These findings serve as the basis of a new 5-yr NIAAA funded project on which I am co-PI along with Dominic Parrott at GSU. This project, called the Study of Predictors of Alcohol-induced Relationship Conflict (SPARC), is recruiting 1000 high risk couples with a history of IPV and alcohol use problems. We randomly assign the more violent member of the couple to either drink alcohol or a control beverage, and then they take part in the Taylor Aggression Paradigm, in which they have opportunities to shock (and receive shock from) an opponent they believe to be their intimate partner (although they are actually only playing against a computer). Various measures of attentional bias, cognitive distortion, and affective responding are collected during the TAP. The SPARC study will allow us to examine a high risk population in a relevant context and answer questions relating to cognitive and affective mediators of alcohol-induced aggression towards an intimate partner (Eckhardt, Parrott, & Sprunger, in press). 

- The Stages and Processes of Behavior Change among IPV Offenders 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 IPV perpetrators might be persuaded to get their lives back on track. Unfortunately, rates of recidivism and attrition from treatment programs and are very high -- 30-40% of IPV offenders 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 offenders 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).

- Brief Interventions for Partner Violence Perpetrators.

We are interested in developing and testing interventions for IPV perpetrators that build on our risk factor and descriptive findings.

--  In a recently published review of the literature, we concluded that there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of intervention programs for IPV perpetrators (Eckhardt et al., 2013). In particular, more needs to be done to create new batterer intervention programs based on research findings rather than adherence to a particular ideology (Eckhardt, Murphy, Black, & Suhr, 2006).

-- Along with Chris Murphy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, we outlined a novel approach to abuser treatment in a treatment manual, Treating the Abusive Partner: An Individualized, Cognitive Behavioral Approach, published by Guilford Press (2005). One core message of this approach is that offenders 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.

-- Building on this idea, we developed and evaluated a single-session brief motivational enhancement intervention for IPV perpetrators recruited from an urban probation department who were about to start an IPV treatment program (Crane & Eckhardt, 2013). Offenders were randomly assigned to receive the brief intervention or the typical probation orientation prior to starting treatment, and criminal justice records were reviewed 6 months later. Results indicated that offenders who received the brief motivational enhancement session started treatment sooner and were more likely to complete treatment relative to those in the control condition. The brief intervention appeared to work particularly well with those offenders low in readiness to change.

-- We are currently working on developing a treatment model that integrates motivational and CBT intervention components with the structure provided by the I3 model (for an example, see Eckhardt, Crane, & Sprunger, 2014).

- PTSD, Alcohol Use, and Intimate Partner Violence.

We are interested in evaluating the proximal associations among alcohol use, PTSD symptoms, and IPV among individuals exposed to combat-related traumas.

--  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 IPV among individuals with recent experiences in combat theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan (Lamotte et al., in press; Lamotte et al., 2014).


Eckhardt, C. I., Parrott, D. J., & Sprunger, J. G. (in press). Mechanisms of alcohol-facilitated intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women.

LaMotte, A. D., Taft, C. T., Weatherill, R. P., Scott, J. P., & Eckhardt, C. I. (in press). Correlates of intimate partner violence perpetrated by female partners of OIF/OEF veterans. Partner Abuse.

Eckhardt, C. I., & Crane, C. (in press). Cognitive and aggressive reactions of male dating violence perpetrators to anger arousal. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Eckhardt, C. I., Murphy, C., & Sprunger, J. (2014). The effectiveness of intervention programs for perpetrators of intimate partner abuse. Psychiatric Times, 31 (8), 29-32.

Eckhardt, C. I., & Sprunger, J. (2014). Treating perpetrators of intimate partner violence. To appear in Walfish, S., & Grossman, L. (Eds.), Translating research into practice: A desk reference for practicing mental health professionals. (pp. 443-446). NY: Springer.

Eckhardt, C. I., & Crane, C. (2014). Male perpetrators of intimate partner violence and implicit attitudes towards violence: Associations with treatment outcomes. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 38, 291-301.

LaMotte, A. D., Taft, C. T., Weatherill, R. P., Panuzio Scott, J., & Eckhardt, C. I. (2014). Examining intimate partner aggression assessment among returning veterans and their partners. Psychological Assessment, 26, 8-15.

Eckhardt, C. I., Crane, C., & Sprunger, J. (2014). CBT for perpetrators of intimate partner violence: The “I 3” approach. In Tafrate, R. C. & Mitchell, D. (Eds.) Forensic CBT: A practitioner’s guide. (pp. 187–210). NY: Wiley.

Crane, C., & Eckhardt, C. I. (2013). Evaluation of a single-session brief motivational enhancement intervention for partner abusive men. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 60, 180-187.

Crane, C., & Eckhardt, C. I. (2013). Negative affect, alcohol consumption, and female-to-male intimate partner violence: A daily diary investigation. Partner Abuse, 4, 332-355.

Eckhardt, C., Murphy, C., Whitaker, D., Sprunger, J., Dykstra, R., & Woodard, K. (2013). The effectiveness of intervention programs for perpetrators and victims of intimate partner violence: Findings from the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project. Partner Abuse, 4, 175-195.

Whitaker, D., Murphy, C., & Eckhardt, C. I., Hodges, A., & Cowart, M. (2013). Effectiveness of primary prevention efforts of intimate partner violence: A report for the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project. Partner Abuse, 4, 175-195.

Finkel, E., & Eckhardt, C. (2013). Intimate partner violence. In J.A. Simpson & L. Campbell (Eds.) Handbook of close relationships (pp. 452-474). NY: Oxford.

Eckhardt, C. I., Samper, R., & Suhr, L., & Holtzworth-Munroe, A. (2012). Implicit attitudes towards violence among male perpetrators of intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27, 471-491.

Eckhardt, C. (2011). Intimate partner violence: Cognitive, affective, and relational factors. In Forgas, J., Kruglanski, A., & Williams, K. (Eds.), Social conflict and aggression. Psychology Press.

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.

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. (2005). Treating the Abusive Partner: An Individualized Cognitive-Behavioral Approach. NY: Guilford.

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.

Dye, M. L,. & Eckhardt, C. I. (2000). Anger, irrational beliefs, and dysfunctional attitudes in violent dating relationships. Violence and Victims, 15, 337-350.

Eckhardt, C. I., & Dye, M. L. (2000). The cognitive characteristics of maritally violent men: Theory and evidence. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 24, 139-158.

Eckhardt, C. I., Barbour, K. A., & Davison, G. C. (1998). Articulated irrational thoughts in maritally violent and nonviolent men during anger arousal. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 259-269.

Barbour, K. A., Eckhardt, C. I., Davison, G. C., & Kassinove, H. (1998). The experience and expression of anger in maritally violent and nonviolent men. Behavior Therapy, 29, 173-191.

Eckhardt, C. I., & Kassinove, H. (1998). Articulated cognitive distortions and cognitive deficiencies in maritally violent men. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 12, 231-250.


Ongoing Research Support

Mechanisms of Alcohol-Facilitated Intimate Partner Violence (1R01AA020578-01A1; 7/12 – 6/17)

Role: co-Principal Investigator (co-PI: D. Parrott, Georgia State Univ)


Goals: The goals of this laboratory-based project are to examine specific affective and cognitive processes hypothesized to mediate the relationships between alcohol intoxication and intimate partner violence (IPV) among couples at high risk for IPV.

Overlap: There are no budgetary, scientific, or administrative overlaps between this study and the current proposal.

PTSD, TBI, and Neuropsychological Factors in Partner Violence Among Veterans (4/11 - 4/16)

Function: Co-Investigator (C. Taft, PI)

Agency: Veterans Administration Merit Renewal

Goals: The goal of this continuation award is to examine the relationships among PTSD, TBI, and Intimate Partner Violence among recently returned OEF/OIF veterans.

Completed Research Support

PTSD, Anger, Cognition, and Partner Violence among Combat Veterans (9/06 - 8/12)

Role: Co-Investigator

Agency: VA Merit Grant – C. Taft (PI)

Goals: The goal of this Merit Award is to investigate how PTSD, anger dysregulation, and cognitive factors are associated with partner violence perpetration among combat veterans.

Evaluation of a Brief Motivational Enhancement Intervention for Partner Abusive Men (9/08 – 8/11)

Role: PI

Agency: Purdue University College of Liberal Arts Kinley Trust

Goals: This project is a randomized clinical trial evaluating a pre-intervention brief motivational enhancement therapy versus a control treatment on batterer intervention program attendance and assault-related recidivism.

Individual Behavior Therapy for Partner Violent Men (12/01-6/07)

Role: Consultant (Chris Murphy, PI, University of Maryland Baltimore County)

Agency: NIMH/NIH

This randomized controlled trial evaluated the efficacy of individual cognitive-behavioral treatment versus group treatment for partner assaultive men.

The Role of Power and Control in Intimate Partner Violence (10/02–6/05)

Role: Subcontract PI (Westat Inc., Contractor)

Agency: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The purpose of the subcontract was to design and evaluate research examining a cognitive-attachment model of intimate partner violence using a sample of recently convicted partner assault offenders.

Alcohol, Anger, and the Cognitions of Wife Assaultive Men (1R03AA012418, 10/00-9/03) Role: PI


This study experimentally manipulated alcohol intoxication and anger induction in samples of maritally violent and nonviolent men and evaluated how these manipulations affected cognition, emotion, and behavior.

Stages and Processes of Change and Associated Treatment Outcomes in Partner Assaultive Men (99- VT-WX-0012, 11/99-7/03)

Role: PI

Agency: Department of Justice/National Institute of Justice

The goal of this study was to examine whether readiness/motivation to change predicted attrition and recidivism among whether men adjudicated for partner assault over a one year period.

Articulated Cognitive Ditortions of Intoxicated Individuals during Anger Arousal (9/99 - 8/01) Role: PI

Agency: Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation

This laboratory research examined the roles of alcohol intoxication and anger arousal on cognitive processing and aggressive reactions among college students.

Processing of Anger-Related Information in Maritally Violent and Nonviolent Men (1/97-8/98)

Role: Co-PI (with D. Cohen)

Agency: Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation

The purpose of this study was to examine whether, relative to nonviolent males, maritally violent men exhibited automatic attentional biases favoring anger-related information.

Cognitive Processes and Anger in Maritally Violent Men (1R03MH055028, 9/95-2/97)

Role: PI


The goal of this study was to examine how laboratory anger arousal affected cognitive processing, affect regulation, and aggressive responding among maritally violent and nonviolent males.