Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Our society’s attitudes and beliefs about family violence influence both the course of action taken in the legal system and the enforcement of the laws pertaining to family violence. Traditional sex-role attitudes as they are related to the acceptance of violence in the home are believed to be involved in perpetuating the continued use of violence in families (Finn, 1986; Gentemann, 1984; Straus, Gelles & Steinmetz, 1980). The structural theory of violence holds that “For any set of behaviors characteristic of a population, there will develop a normative counterpart that rationalizes and justifies that behavior” (Owens, Straus, 1975, 210). A significant degree of family violence has been reported in the literature; this suggests norms must exist within our society that rationalize and justify the use of violence (Owens & Straus, 1975). In our investigation of the relationship of attitudes toward family violence and sex role orientation, three questionnaires (Interpersonal Violence Approval Index, Personal Data Questionnaire, and Bem Sex-Role Inventory) were administered to two professional groups (judges & clinicians) and the general population. A total of 648 questionnaires were mailed with a response rate of 56 percent. Mental health clinicians were found significantly less approving of family violence than either the district judges and the general population. This difference in approval may be a result of the subject group differences in educational training and knowledge exposure to family violence issues. There was no significant relationship found between approval of family violence and sex role orientation in the main analyses, however; in individual item analyses relationships were found with the masculine sex role orientation holding significantly higher approval of certain forms of family violence than the other sex role orientations. Individual item analyses found androgynous and undifferentiated oriented individuals held the lowest approval of family violence. Further analyses of secondary variables suggested relationships between contextual situation approval of family violence and age, gender, education level, beliefs about family violence, and income level.


Kenneth Olson

Date of Award

Spring 1993

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1993 Betty A. Bolte


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