Size Does Matter: The Effects of Gender on Perceptions of Dating Violence
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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.
KeywordsDating violence Intimate partner violence Asymmetry
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