Effects of sex role stereotyping among European American students on domestic violence culpability attributions

Cynthia E. Willis, Marianne N. Hallinan, Jeffrey Melby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Effects of European American students' sex role stereotyping and domestic violence participants' race and relationship intimacy were examined for culpability attributions. In addition to a man's responsibility rating and a sentencing measure, five factors were identified from the dependent measures; these were Sympathy with Man, Incident as Abusive, Generalness of Incident, Seriousness of Incident, and Man as Abuser. Results indicated that sex role stereotyping was influential in culpability attributions, as those with traditional orientations showed a favorable bias toward the man, particularly a married man. Traditionalists provided a shorter sentence for the man and thought the incident less abusive when the woman was African American, in comparison to egalitarians. Both egalitarians and traditionalists expressed more sympathy toward the man when the woman was African American and married. Although we had anticipated higher culpability ratings for women involved in interracial relationships, we found that the European American man was thought less responsible when the woman was African American, but no differences emerged when the woman was European American. It is suggested future research examine the specific content of various stereotypic subtypes of actors involved in domestic violence and how these stereotypic subtypes bias culpability attributions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-491
Number of pages17
JournalSex Roles
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Apr 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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