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A Study and Investigation into People's Views on Domestic Violence Based on Victim's Age and Gender

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A quantitative approach

As Lum (2005) pointed out, human behaviour can be investigated through both qualitative and quantitative research methods, depending on one’s philosophical point of view. (pp. 124-125) In fact, while many reject the idea that human behaviour can be analysed like an ordinary physical object or natural phenomenon, quantitative research has proved very effective in helping researchers to explore human behaviour and to identify relevant patterns and trends. (Lum, 2005, pp-124-125) In view of these considerations, this study adopts a quantitative approach to investigate people’s views on domestic violence in relation to victims’ gender and age.

Primary data will be collected through a carefully-designed questionnaire and will be then analysed taking into consideration dependent and independent variables.

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The dependent variables selected by the author are respondents’ acceptance of domestic violence against victims of different gender and age. The three independent variables will be victims’ gender, victims’ age and perpetrators’ gender. (see Table 1)

With regards to the aforementioned questionnaire, the author formulated a number of questions aimed at evaluating participants’ perception of violence against victims of different gender and age. In order to obtain more reliable and targeted answers whilst investigating various scenarios, the questionnaire has been divided into eight sections, each of which focuses on a particular age/gender combination (Table 2).

Sampling and materials

The sample consists of 120 participants who are currently studying at the University of Bedfordshire and the University of Newcastle. All participants are aged over 18 years and will be divided into 8 groups, each of which will consist of an equal number of male and female respondents.

In order to better evaluate participants’ perception of and views on domestic violence in relation to gender and age, the author will use eight audio clips which will be edited and combined using Avid Media Composer. The audio clips will portray eight domestic violence incidents, covering all the scenarios listed in Table 2.

For the ethical reasons, the audio clips will be created using adult actors and will dramatise the incidents being analysed in order to provoke emotional reactions among respondents.

The ADV was originally piloted as a 20-item questionnaire with questions about the acceptability of violence perpetrated by either a man or a woman, taking into consideration ten different situations (see Table 1). Items were generated through close consultation with RwF workers who had insights into the kinds of situations in which young people tend to justify violence in relationships.

In order to measure participants’ level of acceptability of domestic violence, each question is followed by a 4-point scale consisting of the following options:

Depending on how each question is phrased, the response scale may be presented in reverse order (i.e., 1 = it’s really wrong, 2 = it’s sort of wrong, 3 = it’s sort of OK, 4 = it’s perfectly OK). For example, for those questions that begin with “Do you think it is OK . . . ,” the scale will start with “it’s perfectly OK”. However, for questions that have been formulated in such a way to investigate participants’ opinions about given scenarios, the response scale will usually appear in reverse order, thus starting with “it’s really wrong” and ending with “it’s perfectly OK.” This is to prevent participants from answering all questions in the same way, without fully processing what they are being asked (known as “response set bias”). Four pairs of items were reverse-coded so that for all 20 items, a high score indicated that participants were agreeing that the situation was acceptable.


First of all, in order to reduce the risk of participants experiencing discomfort or distress, the author will only select students who have never experienced domestic violence. Therefore, during the recruiting stage, each participant will be asked whether they have ever experienced domestic violence and, should they answer “Yes”, they will not be included in the study. The author will divide participants into eight groups of fifteen members each. Each group will consist of an equal number of male and female participants, in order to allow for a more accurate comparison of their responses.

Each participant will be taken to a room, where they will be asked to sit comfortably on a chair. They will be reminded that the study in which they are participating is about domestic violence and that they may leave at this stage if they do not wish to listen to a series of audio clips portraying various domestic violence scenarios. At this point, the author will present the consent form to the participant. Should they accept to partake in the experiment, they will be asked to sign the consent form. Before playing the first audio clip, participants will be reminded that they may cover their ears to avoid listening if they wish to do so. After completing the above steps, the first audio clip will be played. At the end of the audio clip, each participant will be provided with a paper copy of the questionnaire related to the particular domestic violence scenario portrayed in the clip.

Participants will be asked whether they have any questions before answering the questionnaire.

Participants will be informed about the research using a debriefing form, which will explain that the incidents portrayed in the audio clips are not real and have been created by the author on the basis of dramatised scenarios enacted by actors. Therefore, they will be reassured that nobody got hurt when the audio clips were recorded. For ethical reasons, no children were involved, which is why children’s parts were acted by adults.


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