CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles

Validity Concerns in the Measurement of Women’s and Men’s Report of Intimate Partner Violence


The measurement of intimate partner violence (IPV) has proven to be more complex than originally anticipated and content and construct validity need to be greatly improved for IPV assessment. For measurement of IPV in the United States, these validity issues range from providing the most accurate wording for the content domain to controversies as to when violent actions are counted (e.g., self-defense) or whether to include mild aggression (e.g., psychological conflict tactics) that may be more normative and not harmful. The three major forms of IPV (i.e., physical, sexual, and psychological abuse) have distinct validity issues and may require different modalities for assessment. Gender needs to be considered when establishing construct validity due to differences in the meaning of aggression, impacts of abuse, and even patterns of violence for women and men. External threats to validity include potential bias of self-report and motivations when reporting on a partner, discrepancies in couples’ reports, the influence of response styles, and design issues affecting reporting. Traditional methods used to establish validity for IPV scales are reviewed and critiqued. Recommendations for enhancing validity in IPV assessment are provided.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Sex Roles, v. 69, issue 3-4 , p. 149-167.

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