Friend or foe? Postdivorce hostility among recently divorced individuals

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High levels of hostility often occur during and postdivorce and may significantly affect the quality of life, parent–child relationships, and social functioning of divorcees. Moreover, hostility may predict aggressive and violent behavior. This study sought to (a) compare average general hostility levels of a large sample of Danish divorcees to the norms of the general adult Danish population, (b) compare general hostility levels between male and female divorcees, and (c) investigate the explanatory value of various sociodemographic and divorce-related factors on postdivorce general hostility and whether these factors differ across gender. Cross-sectional baseline data (N = 1,856) from a larger randomized controlled trial study was used in this study. Normative data from a general sample of Danish adults (N = 2,040) was used for comparisons of hostility levels between our study sample and the Danish background population. This study found that male and female divorcees did not report significantly different hostility levels. However, participants reported significantly higher hostility levels postdivorce than the comparative Danish norm sample. Significant predictors of postdivorce hostility were lower age, lower educational level, infidelity as a reason for divorce, higher degree of postdivorce conflict, worse communication with the former spouse, the former spouse as the initiator of the divorce, and new partner status with neither divorcees having a new partner, or only the former spouse having a new partner. The predictive strength of the factors did not differ across gender. The findings may be especially relevant for interventions targeting problematic outcomes postdivorce (e.g., preventing aggressive behavior).

Original languageEnglish
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)523-534
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • divorce, hostility, marital dissolution, norm data, postdivorce

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