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The present studies will examine how college-aged students perceive non-physical abuse in intimate partner relationships. The Tip of the Iceberg theory hypothesizes that non-physical abuse varies by increasing degree of severity'verbal, emotional, and psychological'with psychological abuse being the most severe form of non-physical abuse. Study 1 will test for evidence that three degrees of severity are perceived by laypeople to exist within non-physical abuse, and that psychological abuse is perceived as the most severe degree. Participants will read vignettes illustrating non-physically abusive situations between dating couples, and then rate how abusive these situations seem on a Likert-type scale. It is predicted that severity of abusiveness ratings will vary based on the type of non-physical abuse (verbal, emotional, psychological). Study 2 will then use the vignettes from study 1 that were found to have differed in severity to examine if the relationship between the hypothesized degrees of severity and perceived severity ratings of abusiveness is moderated by the target of the non-physical abuse (one's self or an individual in another couple), and if this relationship is then further influenced by the individual's past experience with non-physical abuse. Study 1 data is currently being collected and results from all available data will be presented.

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Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Lee J. Dixon

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium poster

Perception of Non-physical Abuse in Intimate Partner Relationships