CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles


Lay Persons’ Versus Psychologists’ Judgments of Psychologically Aggressive Actions by a Husband and Wife


Literature assessing knowledge of and attitudes toward social issues has demonstrated that mental health professionals and lay persons often differ greatly. To add to the normative information in the field of psychological abuse and to determine whether the differences previously found between mental health professionals and lay persons extend to this field, a sample from each group rated psychologically aggressive items by a husband toward his wife. For the 102 items, psychologists were more likely to label the behaviors as “psychological abuse,” but this tendency was due to psychologists considering the behaviors as either “always” or “possibly” abusive, whereas lay persons demonstrated a bimodal response pattern of rating the behaviors as “always” or “never” psychological abuse. Lay persons were much more likely than psychologists to rate items high in terms of severity level, however. The two groups used different contextual factors for determining that a behavior was psychological abuse when they initially were uncertain that it was abusive.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Journal of Interpersonal Violence, v. 19, no. 8, p. 916-942.

Dr. Diane Follingstad had not been a faculty member of the University of Kentucky at the time of publication.

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