International research suggests that levels of men's violence against their female partners and wives, or intimate partner violence (IPV), is a significant global health problem with a wide range of adverse physical, psychological, social, and economic consequences for women and their children. Both men's and women's attitudes about violence are believed to be correlated with actual violent behavior;yet, surprisingly, research on attitudes about IPV is relatively limited, and researchers only recently have developed standard instruments to measure individual attitudes about IPV in developing country settings. Although modifying individual attitudes and community-level norms related to IPV is potentially important for behavioral change, our ability to investigate them cross-culturally may be severely limited because the responses to existing, commonly used survey questions may conflate women's own attitudes regarding IPV and their perceptions of norms about IPV in their local communities. The objective of this research is to develop better methodological tools for understanding women's and men's individual attitudes about IPV and their perceptions of norms about IPV in their own communities. The project combines cognitive interviewing, in-depth ethnographic methods, and survey experiments to develop new questions and survey modules on the social acceptability of IPV in which individual attitudes can be distinguished clearly from perceptions of community norms. Qualitative data from women and men will be compared to examine whether questions and response categories have gendered cognitive and semantic meanings, and the qualitative and cognitive data will inform the development of the survey experiment and analysis of the survey data. These refined survey tools for understanding attitudes and norms about IPV will be made publicly available for possible use in large-scale national surveys, such as the DHS.
The survey instruments developed in this project will enable a more fruitful analysis of the dynamic between individual attitudes and social norms about intimate partner violence (IPV) and individual women's exposure to IPV and their help-seeking behavior. The project will provide a valuable comparative perspective to research on this topic underway in Bangladesh. The insights and tools developed through this project will lay the groundwork for a multilevel study of IPV attitudes, norms, and individual risk and help-seeking behavior for which separate funding will be sought. Improved knowledge about the attitudinal and normative environment related to IPV will inform the development of contextually appropriate ideational interventions to reduce the prevalence and consequences of IPV.
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