Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wife-batterers' warped perceptions

People who drink too much, have an eating disorder or who take drugs often think that their behaviour is more common than it really is. Initiatives aimed at tackling drinking in college have tried to point out that most students drink much less than their peers think they do - and these intiatives can change drinking behaviour. Researchers from the University of Washington interviewed 124 wife-batterers enrolled on a treatment programme to see if they too overestimated how common their behaviour was. They were asked how prevalent they thought various different types of abusive behaviour were and their answers were compared with the actual frequency of such abuse. The participants overestimated how frequent this behaviour was; they thought that 27.6% of men had thrown things at their partner when 'only' 11.9% have done this in reality and they also overestimated the frequency of marital rape - 23.6% vs 7.9%. However, it is not clear whether the men's overestimation of the frequency of this behaviour made them more likely to commit it, or whether the fact that they abused women led them to think that maltreating them was more common than it really is.

You can find out more about this research at


dancnfvr said...

This is just wrong! How could the researchers possibly believe their "statistics" were accurate. Even in today's society most women and many men never report domestic violence including marital rape for two reasons. 1) They know they have no way of surviving on their own if they leave no matter how much help is offered. 2) They start truly believing they are causing it to happen, or so embarrased they will not report it until they are in the hospital or dead. Many of these jerks honestly believe to their core their partner is a belonging they can "do with" as they want to and will quote bible verses to back their stance. So of course they overestimate how common this happens, they believe it is their right and any "man" not doing what is right is a panty waste. Sorry, I'm getting off my soap box now.

John Gale said...

Thanks dancnfvr - I think we're both agreed that wife-battering is a terrible thing to do so I hope we are both starting from the same place on this. It would be interesting to know what methodology the researchers used to measure the 'real' incidence of wife battering. I think the link at the foot of the story should contain a reference to the original journal article where the authors of the study will probably discuss the methods they use. But psychology is an inexact science with lots of grey areas which can be frustrating but is what makes it so fascinating.
Best Wishes,
John Gale,
Mental Health Update