Graduation Year

2016

Degree

M.A.

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Criminology

Major Professor

John K. Cochran, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Ráchael A. Powers, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carla Smith Stover, Ph.D.

Keywords

intimate partner violence, public perception, punishment, race

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore how racial bias affects perceptions of intimate partner violence (IPV). Public perceptions of IPV have been studied under numerous contexts to ascertain how characteristics of victim and the offender can affect these attitudes. A portion of this body of research has been dedicated to understanding the role of race in perceptions of IPV and a large portion of the findings have been mixed due to the interaction of biases and attitudes about race and IPV. Very few studies have looked at multiple forms of IPV in comparison with one another while also studying the sole effect of racial bias on these attitudes.

This study aimed to explore how racial bias affects perceptions of multiple forms of IPV. Through a survey design that utilized vignettes to present three forms of IPV, participants were randomly assigned to one of four racial dyads for the offender and victim in the vignette and then asked a series of questions about the vignette that measured perceptions of seriousness of the scenario, offender and victim culpability, and punitiveness of punishment. Participants’ attitudes towards domestic violence, racial bias, and violence in general were also measured using known attitudinal scales. The final sample consisted of 401 participants who were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and completed the online survey.

Findings from this study suggested a role of racial bias on the sample’s perceptions of the seriousness of the scenario, offender culpability, and labeling the vignette a violation of the law.

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