Intimate partner violence and bystanders’ helping behaviour: an experimental study

Date08 January 2018
Published date08 January 2018
AuthorVincenza Cinquegrana,Anna Costanza Baldry,Stefano Pagliaro
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression, conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology, policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
Intimate partner violence and bystanders
helping behaviour: an experimental study
Vincenza Cinquegrana, Anna Costanza Baldry and Stefano Pagliaro
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the influence of contextual factors on the attribution of
responsibility to female victims of an intimate partner violence (IPV ) episode. The victims infidelity and the
perpetrators alcohol abuse constituted the contextual factors in the investigation. The bystanders age,
gender, and attitude towards gender roles were predicted to influence the attribution of responsibility to an
IPV victim, and their willingness to help.
Design/methodology/approach An experimental study was conducted with 464 Italian participants with
two independent conditions incorporated into a fictional scenario, measuring the different levels of the
dependent variables under investigation. The participants were randomly assigned to different conditions
provided their answers via an anonymous questionnaire.
Findings The participants attributed more responsibility to the victim when they admitted infidelity,
controlling for gender role norms and sexism. Attribution of responsibility, male gender, and attitudes towards
the male gender role were significantly associated with less willingness to help the victim.
Practical implications The results point to the importance of increasing the bystanders role in preventing
IPV by addressing gender role norms and their impact on the justification of violence.
Originality/value The study complements the existing literature by providing new evidence of the barriers
that prevent the bystanders intervention in IPV episodes. A clearer understanding of these barriers will help to
develop strategies that aim to prevent violence in the future.
Keywords Helping behaviour, Intimate partner violence, Social norms, Ambivalent sexism,
Responsibility attribution, Bystandershelping behaviour
Paper type Research paper
According to the World Health Organization (2013), an average of 35 per cent of women
worldwide report physical and/or psychological violence in one out of three cases by a current or
former intimate partner. It is estimated that every hour almost 6,000 women worldwide are
victims of stalking, physical or sexual abuse, rape, or are killed by their partners or former
partners (WHO, 2013; UNICEF and Innocenti Research Center, 2000).
Intimate partner violence (IPV), which includes any form of physical, psychological, or sexual
violence,is a well-known problem with greatconsequences (Baldry and Pagliaro,2014; Campbell,
2002; Kilpatrick, 2004; Kuijpers et al., 2011). IPV has been conceptualised typically as a private
form of violence (Felson et al., 2002) with several correlates and determinants at an individual
(such as age, length of relationship, and prior history of abuse), interpersonal, and social
level (such as family, friends, and community support) (Beyer et al.,2013;Campbellet al., 2003).
Women are at higherrisk of these forms of violence and are morelikely to be injured or even killed in
an intimate relationship than men (Beeble et al., 2008;Capaldi et al., 2009; Greenfeld et al.,1998;
Makepeace,1981, 1986). In a meta-analysison gender differences in physical aggressiontowards
heterosexual partners, Archer (2000) found that while both men and women perpetrate, and are
victimisedby an intimate partner, womenare generally more likely to be injuredin their relationships
than men are, although the reported sample size was very small.
Received 19 August 2016
Revised 21 December 2016
22 January 2017
23 January 2017
Accepted 25 January 2017
The authors declare no potential
conflict of interest with respect to
the authorship and/or publication
of this paper. The authors did not
receive financial support for the
research or the authorship of
this paper.
Vincenza Cinquegrana is
a PhD Student and
Anna Costanza Baldry is a
Professor, both at the
Department of Psychology,
Università degli Studi della
Campania Luigi Vanvitelli,
Caserta, Italy.
Stefano Pagliaro is an
Associate Professor at the
Dipartimento di Neuroscienze,
Imaging e Scienze Cliniche,
Università degli Studi di Chieti,
Chieti, Italy.
VOL. 10 NO. 1 2018, pp. 24-35, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 DOI 10.1108/JACPR-08-2016-0243

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