iCARE: Cyber Behaviours in Intimate Relationships

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  • Technology usage is at an all-time high in Canada, resulting in almost all Canadians, under the age of 45, using the internet everyday (Statistics Canada, 2017). Recently, it has been highlighted that intimate partners are exposed to various vulnerabilities online. Individuals can be victimized by their intimate partners by means of cyber acts, called cyber aggression. Cyber aggression is characterized as threatening, insulting or humiliating acts intended to cause distress, such as sending embarrassing photos or videos over the Internet, using an intimate partner's passwords to access their social media and email to spy, or the using technology to exhibit control over one's partner (Borrajo et al., 2015; Buesa & Calvete, 2011; Watkins et al., 2016; Wright, 2017). There are two central types of cyber aggression: direct and control monitoring (Borrajo et al., 2015). Currently, cyber aggression among intimate partners has been scarcely examined in the literature. To address intimate partner cyber aggression, three foundational areas were examined in this dissertation, (1) who might predict intimate partner cyber aggression, (2) why perpetrators employ these behaviours, (3) and what the associations are between intimate partner cyber aggression perpetration and well-being. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were employed to holistically address this topic. In an attempt to answer the question "who" perpetrates this form of aggression, an association between insecure attachment characteristics and partner directed cyber aggression was discovered. While exploring "why" individuals perpetrate intimate partner cyber aggression, six underlying motives were revealed. Lastly, while answering the question "what" is the relationship between cyber aggression perpetration and well-being, an association between mental health symptoms and relationship investment was discovered. Given technology's continuous advancements, the engagement in online aggressive behaviours also uniformly progress, making this research topic relevant and time sensitive. These research findings advanced the scientific literature tremendously as the results created a foundational knowledge for future research to build from. Additionally, this dissertation has clinical implications that can be implemented immediately, which is imperative given the recent reliance on technology as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Key Words: Intimate Partner Cyber Aggression, Perpetration, Attachment, Motivations, Well-Being

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  • Copyright © 2021 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2021


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