When a man hits a woman: moral evaluations and reporting violence to the police

Aggress Behav. 2009 Nov-Dec;35(6):477-88. doi: 10.1002/ab.20323.


We use experimental data from a nationally representative sample to examine whether gender and the victim's relationship to the offender affect attitudes about the seriousness of the offense and whether the offense should be reported to the police. We find that respondents are particularly likely to condemn men's assaults on women, and to favor reporting them. The pattern appears to reflect both greater moral condemnation of men's assaults on women and the belief that the victims of these assaults are in greater danger. In general, moral judgments and attitudes toward reporting do not depend on the gender, age, level of education, or political ideology of the respondent. Condemnation of men's violence against women, and support for police intervention when it occurs, are apparently widespread across different segments of the population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Battered Women / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Battered Women / psychology*
  • Domestic Violence / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Domestic Violence / prevention & control
  • Domestic Violence / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Marital Status*
  • Moral Obligations*
  • Police
  • Prejudice
  • Social Control, Formal*
  • Social Control, Informal*