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Attitudes towards Physical and Psychological Aggression between Intimate Partners: A Factorial Vignette Analysis




Waters, Ashley

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Existing literature supports an association between attitudes toward violence and the perpetration of violent behavior (Carr & VanDeusen, 2002; Falchikov, 1996; Lichter & McCloskey, 2004). To further our understanding of these attitudes, the current study examined the way in which individuals make judgments of mutually perpetrated psychological and physical acts within intimate relationships. A vignette methodology was used to examine various participant and contextual factors in tandem, which expanded upon Carlson’s (1999) prior work by using less severe forms of physical aggression and psychological aggression, as well as reciprocal violence, in the vignettes. Our results suggest that participant gender and measures of social desirability account for some of the variability in attitudes towards reciprocal IPV. However, several aspects of the vignettes also influenced an individual’s attitudes, which included gender of the perpetrator, prior history of IPV in the relationship, perpetrator’s use of alcohol, and perceived severity of the acts of physical and psychological aggression. We also found that the perceived similarity, in terms of level of aggressiveness, between reciprocal acts of violence was also relevant, but this effect was moderated by gender of the instigating partner.