Attitudes about violence predict domestic interventions

Attitudes about violence predict domestic interventions Monday, April 10, 2017

Cynthia Willis-Esqueda
Cynthia Willis-Esqueda

Cynthia Willis-Esqueda is a psychologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She recently conducted a new study where she examined why bystanders may or may not intervene and concluded that indifference toward violence likely plays a role. In the study, Willis-Esqueda surveyed 420 college students on their attitudes towards violence and how they would prefer to approach an intervention. In doing so, she was able to score the respondents on their cultural violence attitude and their reactive violence attitude. 

The findings concluded that those students who scored higher on the reactive violence attitude scale were less likely to personally interfere or call the police if they were to see a domestic violence situation. The score on violence attitudes predicted how much violence could escalate before someone felt they should get involved in the situation - those higher on the cultural violence attitudes scale tended to avoid intervening. The difference between genders was also examined, Willis-Esqueda found males tended to prefer no personal or police intervention, although both males and females had a similar view on when they would report domestic abuse.

This study is different than most domestic abuse studies because it is from the bystander’s point of view and the findings may be able to help inform intervention strategies. 

“Not intervening can have dire consequences,” Willis-Esqueda said. “Indifference to violence in our society precludes some people from seeing that domestic violence is inappropriate. How do we approach this issue and train people so that they see this as a problem and are comfortable with intervention?”

 

Attitudes about violence predict domestic interventions