28 May 2018

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

The research investigates the influence of contextual factors on the attribution of responsibility to female victims of an intimate partner violence (IPV) episode. The victim’s infidelity and the perpetrator’s alcohol abuse constituted the contextual factors in the investigation. The bystander’s age, gender, and attitude towards gender roles were predicted to influence the attribution of responsibility to an IPV victim, and their willingness to help. The study found that participants attributed more responsibility to the victim when they had admitted infidelity, even after 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. So males who adhered to traditional gender roles or if the woman victim was perceived as 'sexualised' and therefore less 'moral' were less likely to intervene. The results point to the importance of increasing the bystander’s role in preventing IPV by addressing gender role norms and their impact on the justification of violence.