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The Appropriateness of Retaliatory Violence: Effects of Gender and Relationship


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*Part of TESS 2005 Telephone Survey

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Principal Investigator(s):

Scott Feld
Purdue University
Email: sfeld@purdue.edu
Home page: http://www.cla.purdue.edu/sociology/directory/?personid=936

Richard Felson
Pennsylvania State University
Email: rbf7@psu.edu
Home page: http://sociology.la.psu.edu/people/rbf7

Sample size: 812
Field period: 10/20/2005 - 2/7/2006

Abstract:

Our module presents respondents with a hypothetical scenario, and asks them to indicate their judgments of appropriateness of possible responses. We experimentally manipulate the genders of the participants in the scenario describing a conflict in which one person (the perpetrator) hits the other (the victim). We also experimentally manipulate whether the participants in the scenario are acquaintances or married. This is a 2x2x2 design (gender of perpetrator, gender of victim, relationship between the victim and perpetrator); but we omit two conditions that would have involved married same gender participants. Our primary dependent variables are the seriousness of the offense (on a scale from 1-10) and the acceptability and appropriateness of the victim retaliating (measured by four agree-disagree questions) and calling the police (measured by a separate agree-disagree question). We also measure other factors (e.g. danger) that might affect the appropriateness of various responses.

Hypotheses:

Violence is more serious when the perpetrator is male.

Violence is more serious when the victim is female.

Violence is especially serious when the perpetrator is male and the victim is female.

Violence is more serious when the attack is within marriage.

Retaliation is more appropriate in response to provocations that are judged to be more serious.

Calling the police is more appropriate in response to provocations that are judged to be more serious.

Retaliation is judged least appropriate when a woman assaults a man.

Reporting to police is judged most appropriate when a man assaults a woman.

Experimental Manipulations:

This is a 2x2x2 design (gender of perpetrator, gender of victim, relationship between the victim and perpetrator); but we omit two conditions that would involve same gender spouses.

Key Dependent Variables:

Seriousness of the offense, and appropriateness of the victim retaliating and calling the police.

Summary of Findings:

Our hypotheses were generally confirmed by the data.

Conclusion:

Americans share strong consensual social norms that it is most serious for a man to attack a woman, and that such situations are most requiring of a response. Americans most strongly disapprove of a man hitting a woman, even when the man is first violently attacked by the woman without cause.

Americans are not accepting of violence within marriage.

Overall, the evidence indicates that there are strong gendered norms particularly that men should not be permitted to harm women even in response to a woman harming him. This is consistent with norms of chivalry.

References:

Feld, Scott L. and Richard B. Felson. 2008. "Gender Norms and Retaliatory Violence Against Spouses and Acquaintances." Journal of Family Issues. 29:692-703.



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