Gender norms and retaliatory violence against spouses and acquaintances

Scott L. Feld, Richard B. Felson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This article examines an experiment embedded within a nationally representative survey of adult Americans to investigate gender norms regarding retaliatory violence between spouses and acquaintances. Contrary to claims that societal norms permit violence within marriage, respondents disapproved of retaliatory violence against spouses more than they did against acquaintances. Contrary to claims that gender roles encourage violence by males more than females, respondents were just as likely to approve of female retaliation against males as they were male retaliation against males, and they were more approving of females' retaliating against females than of males' retaliating against females. Male and female respondents had similar, strongly disapproving attitudes toward men's retaliating against women, even though male respondents were more accepting of retaliation in all other conditions. Evidence clearly shows that societal norms discourage retaliation between spouses and men's retaliating against women. Consequently, violent wife abuse continues despite (not because of) societal norms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)692-703
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Gender norms and retaliatory violence against spouses and acquaintances'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this