Year of Publication

2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. D. Stephen Voss

Abstract

Extensive theoretical and empirical research has examined the role that violence-justifying ideologies play in generating violent behavior. Yet, a substantial body of this work employs measures that are consistently associated with sexist attitudes and gender stereotypes. As a consequence, scholars are limited in our ability to fully comprehend individuals’ propensity to endorse, or even promote violent behavior – or how these attitudes influence perceptions of victims and related policy preferences.

I contribute to this line of research by creating a gender-neutral battery of anti-violence questions, in large part divorced from sexist stereotypes, to assess the consequence of those attitudes for politics and public policy in the United States. This flexible new measure of “violence-rejecting sentiment” can travel across policy areas and disciplines. Individuals scoring higher on this scale are less comfortable with violence as a social tool. My new instrument builds upon a common measure of “honor codes”, commonly used in research on rape and rape victims (Saucier et al. 2015) but it requires fewer question items (7 vs. 35), and in large part isolates attitudes toward violence from gender role expectations. Finally, I use survey experiments and regression analyses to examine how these attitudes (toward gender and violence respectively) independently and interactively impact opinion formation; this includes evaluations of victims of sexual and police violence, but also assessments of support for public policies to address these issues in the United States. I find that violence-justifying ideologies – sexism and racism in particular – attenuate the normatively positive effects of anti-violence values in many circumstances. This includes support for policies and services to assist victims and reduce violence.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2020.389

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