Borderline Personality and Dating Violence among College Students: A Path Analysis

Douglas A. Brownridge, Kimberly A. Tyler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Borderline personality (BP) is an understudied risk factor for dating violence. Based on indications that BP may be an important predictor in non-clinical samples, this study explored theoretically derived pathways in the etiology of college student dating violence (CDV) through BP. Data were collected from a convenience sample of 783 college students from a large Midwestern American university. Participants completed a paper-and-pencil survey that included measures of CDV, childhood maltreatment, maternal relationship quality, attachment insecurity and BP. A fully recursive path model was estimated using the maximum likelihood estimator in Mplus 7.4 to simultaneously examine the pathways to CDV perpetration and victimization. One quarter of the sampled college students reported perpetrating and/or experiencing dating violence in the year prior to the study, with a large proportion of these participants (85%) indicating that they were both perpetrators and victims. BP was positively associated with both CDV perpetration (β = .17; p ≤ .01) and victimization (β = .20; p ≤ .01). Results showed that a lower quality of relationship with one’s mother while growing up was strongly associated with the risk of CDV through developmental pathways involving attachment insecurity and BP. While these findings would not be surprising in a clinical sample of batterers, they are particularly interesting in the context of a non-clinical, generally well-adjusted sample of college students that typically involve less severe forms of situational couple violence. Future research on the etiology of situational couple violence, including CDV, should consider the role of BP and its antecedents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)784-802
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Borderline personality
  • dating violence
  • family violence
  • insecure attachment
  • maternal relationship quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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