In terms of many difficult and undesirable parts of life –such as alcohol and substance abuse, compulsive behaviors, and more–, people often overestimate the rate at which certain issues occur. This effect may be especially prominent among people who commit the acts in question. This connection has been significantly show for many psychological and behavioral concerns in the past, but recently, a research team at the University of Washington has found that men involved in domestic violence incidents are likely to believe that such issues occur far more frequently than they actually do.
The research team worked with a group of over one hundred men, all of whom had committed one of seven behaviors defined as violent against their partner within the past ninety days. The men were surveyed as to their estimation of the frequency of events such as slapping or hitting a partner, shoving, throwing an item at a partner, and forcing a partner to have sex without consent. The results showed that the men were likely to estimate a significantly higher frequency than was found through checking with data from the national Violence Against Women survey supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The discrepancies between how often domestic violence attacks occur and how often the men believed they occurred points to the idea that people feel better about doing things that they perceive as being normal, the researchers note. Through creating the idea that many other men commit violence against their romantic partners, the men may be justifying their own behavior to themselves, something which has been shown to be the case across a wide spectrum of actions and tendencies. The research, while needing further study and refinement to provide a more comprehensive data set, may help therapists and counselors better understand how to help those involved in domestic violence overcome such issues.
© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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