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Victim Blaming and Exoneration of the Perpetrator in Domestic Violence: The Role of Beliefs in a Just World and Ambivalent Sexism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 January 2013

Inmaculada Valor-Segura*
Universidad de Granada (Spain)
Francisca Expósito
Universidad de Granada (Spain)
Miguel Moya
Universidad de Granada (Spain)
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Inmaculada Valor-Segura. Departamento de Psicología Social, Facultad de Psicología. Universidad de Granada. Campus de Cartuja. 18011 Granada. (Spain). Phone: +34-958244259. Fax: +34-958243746 E-mail:


The existence of domestic violence is closely linked to several ideological factors that include sexism and other beliefs about society in general, namely the belief in a just world. In this study, which involved 485 people of both sexes aged between 18 and 70 years, we analyzed the influence of these ideological variables of the perceivers and characteristics of the situation on judgments of a gender aggression – blaming the victim and exonerating the perpetrator. Results showed differences in the reactions of observers depending on the cause that triggered the aggression. Participants blamed the victim and exonerated the aggressor more when no cause of the aggression was mentioned than when a cause was mentioned (the woman wanted to separate, to see an old male friend, or simply to take a trip with her female friends). We also found clear effects of hostile sexism and just world beliefs on the dependent variables. Results showed that the influence of just world beliefs depended on the fact of mention or not a cause for the aggression.

La existencia de violencia doméstica está estrechamente relacionada con una serie de factores ideológicos entre los que se encuentran el sexismo y otras creencias sobre la sociedad en general como son las creencias en el mundo justo. En este estudio, en el que participaron 485 personas de ambos sexos con edades comprendidas entre los 18 y 70 años, se analizó la influencia que en los juicios sobre una agresión de género (culpar a la víctima y minimizar la importancia de la agresión) tenían tanto algunas variables ideológicas de los perceptores como ciertas características de la situación. Los resultados mostraron diferencias en las reacciones de los observadores en función de la causa desencadenante de la agresión descrita. Los participantes culparon más a la víctima y exoneraban más al agresor cuando no se presentaba causa de la agresión que cuando la causa era mencionada (la mujer quería separarse, iba a ver a un viejo amigo o simplemente hacer un viaje con amigas). También se obtuvieron claros efectos del sexismo hostil y de las creencias en el mundo justo en las variables dependientes. Los resultados mostraron que la influencia de las creencias en el mundo justo dependía del hecho de mencionar o no la posible causa de la agresión.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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