Sex Roles

, Volume 63, Issue 5–6, pp 324–331 | Cite as

Size Does Matter: The Effects of Gender on Perceptions of Dating Violence

  • Sherry Hamby
  • Amy Jackson
Original Article


Previous research has shown that people perceive intimate partner violence (IPV) as more serious in cases involving a male perpetrator and female victim versus other gender combinations. This study is the first to explore reasons for these differences. 181 undergraduates at a U.S. southeastern college rated one of four dating violence vignettes that varied by perpetrator and victim gender. Participants viewed male-on-female violence as more frightening primarily because males are stronger and bigger than female perpetrators. Physical differences were rated as significantly more important causes of fear than other personality/relationship dynamics. Because males are actually stronger and bigger than females, it appears that gendered perceptions of violence are based in real-world knowledge of gender differences, not merely gender stereotypes.


Dating violence Intimate partner violence Asymmetry 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySewanee, the University of the SouthSewaneeUSA

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