USF St. Petersburg campus Faculty Publications


College students’ beliefs about domestic violence: A replication and extension.

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Shelly Wagers

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In recent decades, significant effort and money have been spent to change social and legal responses to domestic violence and affect public perceptions. A small body of research has examined individuals’ opinions about what behaviors are considered domestic violence. Using a sample of college students, the present study examined a modified version of a somewhat popular instrument used to measure beliefs about domestic violence, extending previous work done by Carlson and Worden. Results indicated beliefs about domestic violence are multidimensional, depending on the nature of the behavior and, in part, the gender of the perpetrator. Opinions about the lawfulness of these behaviors fit the same factor structure as beliefs about domestic violence. Demographic characteristics, current relationship status, secondhand experiences with domestic violence, and perceived prevalence of domestic violence in the community are generally not related to beliefs about domestic violence or the lawfulness of these behaviors. However, attributions of blame on the victim are negatively related to domestic violence beliefs and lawfulness. Moreover, lawfulness is a key covariate for domestic violence beliefs. In addition, results also indicate that the gender of the perpetrator is an important variable affecting student’s beliefs about sexual assault behaviors. Results from this study support the prevailing ideas behind the Battered Women’s Movement that enacting policies and educational programs deeming domestic violence socially, morally, and legally wrong could shift long-standing sociocultural beliefs about men’s use of violence against women. Implications of this study for research and policy specific to college students are discussed.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.