The applicability of the empathic set effect to modify perceptions of domestic violence

Stephen Skiffington1, James Parker1, Deborah Richardson1, James F. Calhoun1
1University of Georgia, United States
Cite this article:  Skiffington, S., Parker, J., Richardson, D., & Calhoun, J. F. (1984). The applicability of the empathic set effect to modify perceptions of domestic violence. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 12(1), 39-44.

Volume 12 Issue 1 | e425 | Published: February 1984 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1984.12.1.39

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Various studies have suggested that the incidence of marital violence is moderate to high and that such violence often results from spouses making erroneous attributions regarding the behavior of their mates. It has also been found that the type of attributions observers typically make can be modified by directing observers to be more empathic and to attempt to see events from the actor's perspective. In other words, observers can be induced to make attributions about another's behavior that consider environmental factors as contributory to behavior and not attribute such behavior solely to internal or dispositional characteristics of the actor. In the present study, the influence of the induction of this emphatic set effect on the perception of a violent domestic situation was evaluated. As hypothesized, those instructed to empathize with the victim tended to attribute the victim's behavior to situational factors; likewise, those instructed to empathise with the aggressor tended to attribute the aggressor's actions to environmental factors rather than to dispositional qualities.
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