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Not a MyNAP member yet? Register for a free to start saving and receiving special member only perks. A vital part of understanding a social problem, and a precursor to preventing it, is an understanding of what causes it. Research on the causes of violence against women has consisted of two lines of inquiry: examination of the characteristics that influence the behavior of offenders and consideration of whether some women have a heightened vulnerability to victimization.
Research has sought causal factors at various levels of analysis, including individual, dyadic, institutional, and social. Studies of offending and victimization remain conceptually distinct except in sociocultural analysis in which t consideration is often given to two complementary processes: those that influence men to be aggressive and channel their expressions of violence toward women and those that position women for receipt of violence and operate to silence them afterwards.
Many theorists and researchers have sought to answer the question, "Why does this particular man batter or sexually assault? Among them have been biologic factors such as androgenic hormonal influences; evolutionary theo. Recently, researchers armed with multivariate statistical analysis have tested complex models of violence with multiple factors to explain battering McKenry et al. Also new are integrative metatheories of intimate violence that consider the impact of historical, sociocultural, and social factors on people, including the processes whereby social influences are transmitted to and represented within individual psychological functioning, including cognition and motivation White, in press.
Many of the theories about the causes of perpetrating violence against women are drawn from the literature on aggression and general violence. Both the research on general violence and that on violence against women suggest that violence arises from interactions among individual biological and psychosocial factors and social processes e. Studies of male batterers have found that some batterers confine their violent behavior to their intimates but others are violent in general Fagan et al. The research suggests that, at least in some cases, there may be differences in the factors that cause violence against women and those.
Much more work is needed in order to understand in what ways violence against women differs from other violent behavior. Such understanding will be particularly important for developing preventive interventions. Although current understanding suggests that violent behavior is not caused by any single factor, much of the research has focused on single causes. Therefore, in the following sections several salient findings emerging Finding women Calhoun sex each single-factor domain are highlighted to illustrate how each contributes something to the causal nexus of perpetration of violence.
They are followed by a brief review of efforts to build multifactor models. Evolution From an evolutionary perspective, the goal of sexual behavior is to maximize the likelihood of passing on one's genes. This goal involves maximizing the chances that one will have offspring who themselves will survive to reproduce.
In ancestral environments, optimum male and female strategies for successfully passing on one's genes often did not coincide because the amount of parental investment required by males is smaller than that required by females. Males were best served by mating with as many Finding women Calhoun sex females as possible to increase their chance of impregnating one of them; females, who have the tasks of pregnancy and nurturing the young, are often better served by pair bonding.
Sex differences in current human mating strategies may be explained as having been shaped by the strategies that created reproductive success among human ancestors. A of studies have shown that young adult males are more interested in partner variety, less interested in committed long-term relationships, and more willing to engage in impersonal sex than are young adult females Clark and Hatfield, ; Symons. This finding is consistent with the optimum evolutionary strategy for males of mating with as many fertile females as possible. It is theorized that males who have difficulty obtaining partners are more likely to resort to sexual coercion or rape.
Extensive evidence of forced mating among animals has been documented Ellis, Evolutionary theory also has been used to explain aspects of intimate partner violence. Case histories from battered women often mention the extreme sexual jealousy displayed by their batterers Walker, ; Browne,and extreme sexual jealousy is a common motive of men who kill their wives Daly and Wilson, There Finding women Calhoun sex much debate over how much influence evolutionary factors have on modern human beings.
Even those who favor evolutionary explanations acknowledge that additional factors are necessary to explain sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Evolutionary explanations of rape are also criticized as not explaining the proportion of rapes lacking reproductive consequences because they involve oral or anal penetration or victims who are prepubescent or male.
Physiology and Neurophysiology The physiological Finding women Calhoun sex neurophysiological correlates of violence and aggression that have received particular attention are the functioning of steroid hormones such as testosterone; the functioning of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid GABA ; neuroanatomical abnormalities; neurophysiological abnormalities; and brain dysfunctions that interfere with cognition or.
This literature has been well reviewed in other sources e. In considering this literature, it should be remembered that much of the evidence comes from animal studies and that generalizing from animals to humans is not straightforward. The evidence that comes from studies of human subjects only shows correlations, so any causal interpretations are tenuous.
Furthermore, changes in hormonal, neurotransmitter, and neurophysiological processes may be consequences of violent behavior or victimization, as well as being causes of those behaviors Reiss and Roth, ; van der Finding women Calhoun sex, A recent comprehensive literature review Archer, concluded that the majority of studies showed that high testosterone levels tend to covary with high probabilities of aggressive behaviors, dominance status, and pathological forms of aggression in nonhuman mammals, but that the picture for humans is not as clear.
In humans, there appears to be a correlation between testosterone levels and aggression, but it is not clear whether testosterone levels influence aggressive behavior or vary as a result of aggressive behavior. Similarly, the of human studies of neurotransmitters are not conclusive. For example, low levels of serotonin, the most heavily studied of the neurotransmitters, have been found to be correlated with aggressive behavior, impulsivity, and suicidal behavior Asberg et al. More recent studies have found a complex interaction among serotonin, alcoholism, and monoamine metabolism and these behaviors Linnoila et al.
Further evidence of the role of neurotransmitters comes from the fact that drugs that act on serotonin receptors or on monoamine oxidase may reduce aggressiveness. Animal and human studies have found trauma and violence to. Studies have also looked at brain abnormalities and violent behavior. Neuropsychological deficits in memory, attention, and language, which sometimes follow limbic system damage, have been found to be common in children who exhibit violent or aggressive behavior e.
Differences in peripheral measures of nervous system Finding women Calhoun sex, such as heart rate or skin conductance, have been found between control subjects and samples of criminals, psychopaths, delinquents, and conduct-disordered children Siddle et al.
Langevin found a "link between temporal lobe impairment and sexually anomalous behaviors" that was independent of nonsexual criminality and not explained by learning disabilities or alcohol abuse. Reduced impulse control and personality changes following head injury may lead to an increased risk of battering Finding women Calhoun sex et al. Likewise, studies have found that batterers are more likely to have had head injuries than nonbatterers Rosenbaum and Hoge, ; Rosenbaum et al.
There is increasing interest in the role played by biological factors in violent behavior; however, most researchers believe it is the interaction of biological, developmental, and environmental factors that is important Fishbein, For example, Marshall and Barbaree speculate that biological factors may set the stage for learning, providing limits and possibilities rather than determining outcomes, and that developmental and environmental factors play the larger role.
However, as suggested by a study Reiss and Roth,preventing head injuries and environmental exposure to toxins, such as lead, that may damage brain functioning could be considered potential avenues for preventing violence. Alcohol Every category of aggressive act except throwing objects has a higher prevalence among people who have been. Alcohol use has been reported in between 25 percent and 85 percent of incidents of battering and up to 75 percent of acquaintance rapes Kantor and Straus, Finding women Calhoun sex Muehlenhard and Linton, ; Koss et al.
It is far more prevalent for men than their female victims. Considerable research links drinking and alcohol abuse to physical aggression, although adult consumption patterns are likewise associated with other variables related to violence such as witnessing physical violence in one's home of origin; Kantor, The relationship of alcohol to intimate partner violence could be spurious, but the relationship of men's drinking to intimate partner violence remains even after statistically controlling for sociodemographic variables, hostility, and marital satisfaction Leonard and Blane, ; Leonard, Men's drinking patterns, especially binge drinking, are associated with marital violence across all ethnic groups and social classes Kantor, The relationship of alcohol to violence is a complex one, involving physiological, psychosocial, and sociocultural factors.
The exact effects of alcohol on the central nervous system remain in question, but nonexperimental evidence indicates that alcohol may interact with neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, that have been associated with effects on aggression Linnoila et al.
Studies have found a genetic basis for alcohol abuse and alcoholism Cloninger et al. The fact that alcohol abuse and antisocial personality frequently occur together has led to the speculation of common genetic bases, but the evidence remains inconclusive Reiss and Roth, Alcohol may interfere with cognitive processes, in particular, social cognitions. Recent studies suggest that men under the influence of alcohol are more likely to misperceive ambiguous or neutral cues as suggestive of sexual interest and to ignore or misinterpret cues that a woman is unwilling.
Abbey et al. The impact of alcohol on behavior has also been linked to a person's expectations about alcohol's effects. For example, Lang et al. Similarly, laboratory studies of penile responses to pornographic stimuli decrease with actual ingestion of Finding women Calhoun sex, but increase when participants believe they have drunk alcohol when they have actually received a placebo drink Richardson and Hammock, It has also been suggested that alcohol may be used to excuse violent behavior Coleman and Straus, ; Collins, These deviance disavowal theories "I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't been drunk" have not been empirically tested, however Kantor, There are methodological weaknesses in the studies of the links between alcohol and violence, including lack of clear definitions of excessive alcohol use and a reliance on clinical samples with an absence of control samples.
For a more complete review of the research and methodological weaknesses see Leonard and Jacob, ; Leonard, Nonetheless, research has consistently found that heavy drinking patterns are related to aggressive behavior, in general, and to intimate partner and sexual violence.
However, exactly how alcohol is related to violence remains unclear. Obviously, many battering incidents and sexual assaults occur in the absence of alcohol, and many people drink without engaging in violent behavior Kantor and Straus, Psychopathology and Personality Traits A of studies have found a high incidence of psychopathology and personality disorders, most frequently antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality organization, or posttraumatic stress syndrome, among men who assault their wives Hamberger and Hastings, ; Hart et al.
A wide variety of psychiatric and personality disorders have also been diagnosed among sexual offenders, most. Distinctive personality profiles have been reported for rapists and sexually aggressive men Groth and Birnbaum, ; Abel et al. However, personality testing of rapists has found no ificant differences between sexual offenders and those incarcerated for nonsexual offenses Quinsey et al.
Studies of the personalities of incarcerated rapists and court-referred batterers are problematic, these men are typically poorly educated and from low-status occupations. Thus the differences may say more about who gets reported, arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced than it does about the personalities of violent men. Rape, for example, is one of the most underreported crimes Bowker,and only a small proportion of reported rapes result in incarceration Darke, Even within the restricted Finding women Calhoun sex found in studies of incarcerated sex offenders, most investigators have concluded that there is a great deal of heterogeneity among rapists and that sexual aggression is multiply determined Prentky and Knight, Batterers also seem to be a heterogeneous group Gondolf, ; Saunders, Because of this heterogeneity, much of the research on incarcerated rapists Finding women Calhoun sex known batterers has included attempts to develop typologies to represent subgroups of them.
Typologies of batterers have generally used one, or a combination, of three dimensions to distinguish between subgroups: frequency and severity of physical violence and related sexual or psychological abuse; generality of the violence i. Rapists have been categorized by motivational factors sexual or aggressiveimpulse control factors, and social competence. For a detailed description of sexual offender taxonomies, see Knight and Prentky, Because incarcerated sexual offenders and batterers in treatment are probably not representative of all sex offenders or batterers, another avenue of research has focused on normal population samples, comparing those who self-report physically or sexually aggressive behavior and those who do not.
Sexually aggressive men are said to differ from other men in antisocial tendencies Malamuth,nonconformity Rapaport and Burkhart,impulsivity Calhoun,and hypermasculinity Mosher and Anderson, Batterers have been found to show lower socialization and responsibility Barnett and Hamberger, It is important to remember, however, that there are potential biases in self-report data, and it is difficult to verify their accuracy other than through consistency of responses. Men may be reluctant to acknowledge that they have engaged in sexually or physically violent behavior or the men who report this behavior may be different from those who have engaged in the behavior Finding women Calhoun sex do not report it.
Yet, because both Finding women Calhoun sex partner violence and sexual assault usually take place in private, self-reports play a central role in their study. Self-report measures on sensitive topics, including violent behaviors, have been found to be quite reliable Straus, ; Hindelang et al.
Attitudes and Gender Schemas Cultural myths about violence, gender scripts and roles, sexual scripts and roles, and male entitlements are represented at the individual level as attitudes and gender schemas. These hypothetical entities are expectancies that give meaning to and may even bias interpretation of ongoing experience, as well as provide a structure for the range of possible responses. Acceptance of beliefs that have been shown to foster rape has been demonstrated among a variety of Americans, including typical citizens, police officers, and judges Field, ; Burt, ; Mahoney et al.
Once a violence-supportive schema about women has developed, men are more likely to misinterpret ambiguous evidence as confirming their beliefs Abbey, Beliefs and myths about rape may serve as rationalizations for those who commit violent acts. For example, incarcerated rapists often rationalize that their victim either desired or deserved to experience forced sexual acts. Similarly, culturally sanctioned beliefs Finding women Calhoun sex the rights and privileges of husbands have historically legitimized a man's domination over his wife and warranted his use of violence to control her.
Men, in general, are more accepting of men abusing women, and the most culturally traditional men are the most accepting Greenblatt, Batterers' often excuse their violence by pointing Finding women Calhoun sex their wives' ''unwifely" behavior as their justification Dobash and Dobash, ; Adams, ; Ptacek, Sex and Power Motives Violence against women is widely believed to be motivated by needs to dominate women. This view conjures the image of a powerful man who uses violence against women as a tool to maintain his superiority, but research suggests that the relationship is more complex.
Power and control frequently underlie intimate partner violence, but the purpose of the violence may also be in response to a man's feelings of powerlessness and inability to accept rejection Browne and Dutton, It also has been argued that rape, in particular, represents fulfillment of sexual needs through violence Ellis,but research has found that motives of power and anger are more prominent in the rationalizations for sexual aggression than sexual desires Lisak and Roth, ; Lisak,Finding women Calhoun sex
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