Psychologists' Judgments of Psychologically Aggressive Actions When Perpetrated by a Husband Versus a Wife
Research literature suggests that clinical judgments of men's versus women's behavior and symptoms typically rate the men as more pathological and dangerous. To determine whether this view would extend to assessments of psychologically aggressive actions, two separate versions of a survey listing potentially psychologically abusive behaviors perpetrated by either a wife toward her husband or the identical actions perpetrated by a husband toward his wife were sent to a nationwide sampling of practicing psychologists. Results indicated that psychologists, irrespective of demographics, rated the husband's behavior as more likely to be psychologically abusive and more severe in nature than the wife's use of the same actions. Psychologists did not differentially rely on any of the three contextual factors (i.e., frequency/duration, intent of the perpetrator, and perception of the recipient) to influence their determination that a behavior was "psychological abuse" dependent upon whether the initiator of the psychological actions was the husband or the wife. Future research could assess more directly the rationale for the psychologists' differing views of male versus female behavior. In addition, more normative information is needed to inform mental health professionals as to the prevalence and severity of psychologically aggressive actions in the general population.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: August 1, 2004
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