Sex Roles

, Volume 70, Issue 3–4, pp 134–145 | Cite as

Testing the Extent of the Gender Trap: College Students’ Perceptions of and Reactions to Intimate Partner Violence

Original Article


Prior research has explored perceptions of intimate partner violence (IPV), and how these perceptions differ based on gender of the participant, victim, and perpetrator. In the current study, 178 undergraduate students (n = 88 males; n = 90 females) attending a university in the Southwestern United States read a hypothetical IPV scenario, experimentally crossed by victim gender and perpetrator gender, and completed measures exploring gender (i.e., participant gender, victim gender, and perpetrator gender) and situational perceptions on participants’ intended responses to an IPV scenario. Results indicated that perceptions of the IPV situation and responses varied by genders of the participant, victim, and perpetrator. Specifically, males were more likely than females to hold the victim responsible for the violence, and ignore the situation; females were more likely than males to encourage the victim to seek professional help and seek help from another person regarding the IPV scenario as presented in the vignette. When the victim was a male, participants viewed the situation as less serious, the victim as more responsible, and were more likely to ignore the situation, than when the victim was female. Overall, results indicated that gender factors (especially participant gender) had a stronger and more consistent influence on responses to the IPV scenario than perceptions of the situation. The findings of the current study are discussed in light of implications for future research to expand an understanding of the role of gender and perceptions influencing anticipated helping behavior for victims of IPV, which will inform intervention.


Intimate partner violence Dating violence Heterosexual Same-gender relationships Helping behavior 



We thank Edward O’Brien for his statistical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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