Unraveling the Roles of Distrust, Suspicion of Infidelity, and Jealousy in Cyber Dating Abuse Perpetration: An Attachment Theory Perspective

J Interpers Violence. 2022 Feb;37(3-4):NP1432-NP1462. doi: 10.1177/0886260520927505. Epub 2020 Jun 12.


People who are anxiously attached, distrustful and jealous of their partners, and suspect infidelity are more likely to use psychological dating violence. Is this also true for cyber dating abuse perpetration (CDAP)? This study investigated the prevalence of and gender differences in self-reported CDAP and whether trust, anticipated partner infidelity, and jealousy serially mediated the association between anxious attachment and CDAP in a sample of Turkish college students. College students (N = 390) completed the Cyber Dating Violence Inventory, Anxious Attachment subscale of the Experiences in Close Relationship Scale-Short Form, Dyadic Trust Scale, Cognitive Jealousy subscale of the Multidimensional Jealousy Scale, Partners' Intentions Towards Infidelity Scale, and a Demographic Information Form. A total of 67% of the sample used at least one cyber abusive behavior with their partner over the last 6 months. A multiple serial mediation model indicated that greater anxious attachment was related to more dyadic distrust, the anticipation of partner infidelity, and jealousy, and, in turn, to the use of cyber dating abuse. Overall, results show that the prevalence of CDAP is high and that attachment theory offers a promising framework for identifying predictors of CDAP in emerging adults. These findings have implications for research, intervention, and prevention of CDAP by identifying potential risk factors for perpetrating cyber abuse.

Keywords: anticipated partner infidelity; anxious attachment; cyber dating abuse perpetration; dyadic trust; emerging adults; jealousy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence*
  • Jealousy*
  • Marriage
  • Students