"Social norms theory suggests that people act in a way that they believe is consistent with what the average person does," adds Denise Walker, research professor of social work and co-director of the Innovative Programs Research Group.The research looked at 124 men who were enrolled in a larger treatment intervention study for domestic violence. The men, all of whom had participated in violence against a partner in the previous 90 days, were asked to estimate the percentage of men who had ever engaged in seven forms of abuse. These included throwing something at a partner that could hurt; pushing, grabbing, or shoving a partner; slapping or hitting; choking; beating up a partner; threatening a partner with a gun; and forcing a partner have sex when they did not want to.Data on the percentage of men who actually engaged in these abusive behaviors were drawn from the National Violence Against Women Survey, funded by the National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In every case the men vastly overestimated the actual instances of abuse. For example, the participants on average thought 27.6 percent of men had thrown something with the intent of hurting a partner while the actual number is 11.9 percent. Similarly, they believed 23.6 percent of men had forced their partner to have sex involuntary compared to 7.9 percent in reality.
Both Yglesias and Vanessa see the hand of pop culture at work:
This suggests that media portrayals of violence against women could be very influential in creating the context for actual opinion, and that building strong social norms around how these things are treated in movies, ads, and on TV is very important.
Yeah, perhaps. But I suspect a culprit closer to home. One reason dudes who abuse think it's normal may be because they've grown up in a house where it actually is normal. Thoughts?
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.