violence, sensitivity, aggression, gender effect, bias
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While many believe that violence is both concrete and universal, research suggests that the definition of violence may be in the eye of the beholder. While some may define violence as physical aggression, others may define violence as both physical and psychological aggression. An individual's definition of violence may be an indicator of that person's tolerance towards violence. Someone who is violence-tolerant may believe that only physical aggression can be considered violence, while an someone who is violence-sensitive may have a broader definition of violence that includes forms of non-physical violence. Non-physical violence may include theft, manipulation, verbal abuse, or even cursing.
Previous research has used surveys in order to gauge participants’ attitude towards various violent acts, which can reveal just how violence-sensitive or violence-tolerant that participant is. Participants have been given a list of acts and asked to assign a number value to each, indicating just how severe they believe each act to be. The current study replaces the list of acts with a series of short written scenarios. In each of the scenarios, one agent carries out a violent act against another. The acts depicted in the scenarios provided include both physical and non-physical violence. A goal of this study is to begin developing a method of testing violence-sensitivity that utilizes written scenarios, which would allow future research to experimentally manipulate different aspects of the scenario, such as gender of aggressor and victim.
The current study uses a within-group comparison to examine how responses vary when the gender of the party portrayed in the scenario is manipulated. The first hypothesis is that a survey containing written scenarios will yield similar results to a survey containing a list of violent acts. For example, acts of physical aggression will be ranked higher than acts of non-physical aggression. The second hypothesis is that there is a gender effect, meaning that the gender of the aggressor or the victim in the written scenarios will have an effect on the perceived severity of violence in the hypothetical scenarios.