Title page for ETD etd-010599-171059

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Rhatigan, Deborah Lynn
URN etd-010599-171059
Title Abused and Non-Abused College Females' Causal Attributions to Verbally Abusive Partner Behavior
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Eisler, Richard M. Committee Chair
Cooper, Robin K. Panneton Committee Member
Franchina, Joseph J. Committee Member
  • Self-blame
  • Attributions
  • Victims
  • Abuse
Date of Defense 1998-11-12
Availability unrestricted
Battered women who choose to remain with their

abusive partners tend to blame themselves for

the violence that occurs within their relationships.

However, no empirical studies have

systematically investigated the specific

perceptions of battered women who stay in abusive

relationships. Since self-blame may influence

battered women's decision to stay or leave, a

battered woman's assessment of her own behavior

within conflict situations may be critical to

understanding this process. The present study

examined the differences between abused and

non-abused women's cognitive attributions of

their own behavior as well as their verbally

abusive boyfriends' behavior in the context of

hypothetical dating scenes. College age women

(n=100) were presented with descriptions of dating

situations involving conflict between a male

and female. Half the women received scenes

wherein the female's statement toward her

boyfriend provoked anger (i.e., provocative

condition). The other half of the women received

scenes wherein the female's statement toward her

boyfriend did not provoke anger

(i.e., non-provocative). Other personality

variables which have been shown to be related

to the experience of abuse (i.e., self-esteem and

feminine gender role beliefs) were additionally

assessed in relation to attributional response.

Results suggested that abused women who were

exposed to non-provocative female statements were

more inclined to blame themselves than were

non-abused women who were exposed to

non-provocative female statements. Few

differences were found between abused and

non-abused women who were exposed to provocative

female statements. Low self-esteem was shown to

be moderately related to attributions of

self-blame. Implications of these findings were

discussed with regard to abuse prevention and

therapeutic intervention.

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