Domestic violence perceptions: Is diversity really a factor?

Christina D Jones, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this study was to explore the way that victims of domestic violence are viewed and how much they are perceived to be responsible for the incident. This study utilized the medium of video-taped scenarios with victims of varying racial/ethnic backgrounds, genders, and sexual orientations to evaluate this attribution of blame. The scenarios were all based on an actual victim testimonial obtained by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department and varied only in the person giving the testimonial. The sample consisted of one hundred sixty-seven college students at a large, public university in the mid-south that is known as an historically black college. Participants were assigned to one of four video groups (African American female victim, Caucasian female victim, Caucasian male victim, or Caucasian lesbian victim). Each participant completed a Demographic Questionnaire to assess personal characteristics and personal experience with domestic violence, the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), the Attitudes Toward Women Scale (AWS), the Attitudes Toward Males in Society Scale (AMS), the Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men Scale (ATLG), the Scale of Ethnocultural Empathy (SEE), the Oklahoma Racial Attitudes Scale (GRAS-R), and the Vignette Response Questionnaire (VRQ). The racial background of the perpetrator in the vignette for each group was manipulated to be either African American or Caucasian. Results indicated that students were no more likely to sympathize with the victim based on similarity between participant and victim or participant's liberal attitude. There were no significant differences in empathy toward victims based on personal experience with domestic violence or ethnicity of the perpetrator, although there were based on gender. In addition, those participants with high empathy toward individuals from different cultures were significantly more likely to sympathize with the victim. In the future, it would be helpful to expand this research further by incorporating more ethnically diverse “victims,” including that of a gay male. It appears that teaching tolerance of other cultures is one way of decreasing negative reactions toward victims of domestic violence.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Christina D Jones, "Domestic violence perceptions: Is diversity really a factor?" (2005). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3187594.