The Causes of Partner Violence

The professors of the University of Albany, Worden, A. P. and Carlson, B. E., conducted thorough research on common beliefs around domestic violence (DV). The article titled “Attitudes and beliefs about domestic violence: Results of a public opinion survey: II. Beliefs about causes” was published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence in 2005. The research is a part of a larger project exploring the topic of DV; the current article is designed to answer the question: of what is most commonly believed to cause domestic violence.

The present study’s purpose is divided into three main objectives. Firstly, it aims to explore common concepts that cause partner violence. Secondly, the authors assess the levels of agreement between research-based and public explanations for DV. Lastly, the correlation between opinion and social background is examined. By presenting and analyzing the findings, the article attempts to be of significance to the development and implementation of new laws regulating DV.

By examining the measures of research used in the study, dependent and independent variables can be identified. The dependent variables include the participants’ answers to the survey’s open- and close-ended questions (Worden & Carlson, 2005). The open-ended questions were designed to define opinions and beliefs on the causes of DV; close-ended questions determine levels of agreement with research and folk theories (Worden & Carlson, 2005). The independent variables are the participants’ background information that may affect their answers. It includes gender, marital status, income, age, education, race or ethnicity, and being a self-reported victim or offender.

The dependent variables were measured in several ways correlated to the question types. The answers to the open-ended questions were rated based on how common they were across the participants. The responses to the close-ended questions, consisting of agree, disagree and do not know options, were distributed across ten statements (Worden & Carlson, 2005). The independent variables were measured based on their belonging to a specific category. Gender correlated with female or male, marital status – single or married, income – less than $30,000, $30,000 to $50,000, or more than $50,000, age – 18-35, 36-54, or older than 55 (Worden & Carlson, 2005). Education was defined by high school or less, college, or 4-year degree; race – white and other or African America; being a self-reported victim or offender – yes or no (Worden & Carlson, 2005).

The study uses an exploratory research design to reveal sincere beliefs through open-ended, not suggestive, questions. The close-ended questions were utilized to determine the participant’s level of agreement with research-based causes of DV. The background information was collected to identify its correlation with the answers. With this strategy, the differences and similarities in opinions on DV are evaluated.

The data was collected through telephone interviews with 1,200 residents of six New York State communities (Worden & Carlson, 2005). Such a method of data collection is cheap, fast, and convenient; however, it decreases the generalizability of the study to people owning telephones who agree to participate. The research uses exploratory and associational statistical methods, as well as a descriptive-analytic plan to examine the common trends and relations between the variables.

Through the study, the researchers found that the causes of DV are considered individual problems rather than social issues (Worden & Carlson, 2005). Few people believe women to be the cause of their abuse, yet most think they can end abusive relationships independently. The participants’ backgrounds were found to affect their opinions on the matter (Worden & Carlson, 2005). These findings suggest a widespread misunderstanding of the complexities of abusive relationships. The authors recommend informing the population of the risk factors and external barriers affecting women’s ability to leave abusive partners (Worden & Carlson, 2005).


Worden, A. P., & Carlson, B. E. (2005). Attitudes and beliefs about domestic violence: Results of a public opinion survey: II. Beliefs about causes. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 20(10), 1219-1243.

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