Domestic Violence and Attribution Theory Discussion no plagiarize, spell check, and check your grammar. Please only use the references below. Explore the

Domestic Violence and Attribution Theory Discussion no plagiarize, spell check, and check your grammar. Please only use the references below.

Explore the cycle of violence by analyzing how attribution theory helps to either cover up or uncover a core issue in domestic violence relationships. Using specific examples, describe how the “even if” technique can be employed to help the victim attribute causality. Your Learning Activity should contain between 350

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Henning, K., Jones, A., & Holdford, R. (2005). “I didn’t do it, but if I did I had a good reason”: Minimization, Denial, and Attributions of Blame Among Male and Female Domestic Violence Offenders. Journal of Family Violence, 20(3), 131–139.

Robinson, J. A. (2017). Exploring attribution theory and bias. Communication Teacher, 31(4), 209–213.… COMMUNICATION TEACHER, 2017
VOL. 31, NO. 4, 209–213
Exploring attribution theory and bias
Jessica A. Robinson
Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education, Purdue University, West Lafayette, USA
Courses: This activity can be used in a wide range of classes,
including interpersonal communication, introduction to
communication, and small group communication
Objectives: After completing this activity, students should be able
to: (1) define attribution theory, personality attribution, situational
attribution, and attribution bias; (2) provide examples of both
personality and situational attributions; and (3) recognize why and
when each type of attribution is used. This activity provides
students an opportunity to explore attribution theory and
attribution bias in a low-stakes setting, where the ultimate goal is
a deeper understanding of the theory itself. Therefore, this activity
is typically not treated as a graded assignment, but rather an
opportunity for exploration and discussion.
Received 9 August 2016
Accepted 1 December 2016
Introduction and rationale
Attempting to understand the motives behind our own and others’ behavior is a challenge
that students face daily. Attribution theory clarifies by what mechanisms individuals assess
the motives and behaviors of others (Jones & Nisbett, 1987; Weiner, 2000). Judgments of
others are created through combining available information about both the actor and their
behavior, the context of the behavior, and any previous history with the actor or behavior
(Jones & Nisbett, 1987; Weiner, 2000). There are three factors to consider in causal behavior: locus, stability, and controllability. Locus refers to whether the behavior’s cause is
located inside (personality) or outside (situational) of the actor. Stability refers to
whether a behavior’s cause is temporary or constant. Controllability refers to whether a
behavior’s cause can be changed at will (Weiner, 2000). Whether these distinctions in
attribution come up in discussion will depend on the particular reading being used in
each class. This activity focuses on exploring locus, though instructors are welcome to
adapt the activity to reflect stability and controllability.
Additionally, individuals frequently experience attributional bias. Self-serving bias is the
tendency to believe positive experiences are due to internal attributions and negative
experiences are due to external attributions. This bias is applied to the self and relationally
close others (Sedikides, Campbell, Reeder, & Elliot, 1998). Fundamental attribution error
is the tendency of individuals to rely on personality-related explanations for behavior—
even when situational causes are plausible (Tetlock, 1985). Instructors may decide
which biases they want to discuss with their students.
CONTACT Jessica A. Robinson
© 2017 National Communication Association
These factors, combined with societal pressure to refrain from expressing negative
opinions of others (Crandall, Eshleman, & O’Brien, 2002), creates barriers to in-depth discussion of attribution theory and bias in the classroom. Students may not fully engage with
the differences between personality and situation attributes (Trenholm & Jensen, 2013),
especially when admitting that a biased tendency reflects negatively on the student. This
activity introduces the concepts of attribution theory and attribution bias, and allows students to engage with these ideas by assessing the behavior and motives of a fictional classmate. Natural biases are likely to develop. Expression and discussion of these perspectives is
easier because the classmate in question is fictional. Student groups will receive confidential
information about their fictional classmate (“friends” or “acquaintances”), which will influence students’ behavioral interpretations and accompanying discussion.
The activity
This activity introduces concepts related to attribution theory, bias, and the broader idea of
perception. Before class, prepare the confidential group information (see Appendix A) and
the fictional classmate interactions (see Appendix B). The confidential group information
should be printed/copied so that instructors can give one type of information (“friend” or
“acquaintance”) to each group. The interaction text and questions should be centrally displayed by creating PowerPoint slides or using a chalkboard.
Students should be familiar with the basic concepts of perception—research approaching perception from the perspective of interpersonal or small group communication will
work well. Providing a definition of perception is important, such as Trenholm and
Jensen’s (2013) definition that perception refers to the ways individuals become aware
of, interpret, and assign meaning to surrounding objects, people, and events. Additionally,
discussing individual variation in perception is important. Both interpreting our surroundings and individual differences are important elements in attribution theory and
attribution bias, and are vital considerations in this activity.
Description of activity
Begin class by dividing students into groups of four to six. Depending on available space,
situate groups so they are seated far from each other; each group’s relative discussions
should not be overheard.
Introduce Jane, the new (fictional) group mate. Explain that Jane has been assigned to
their project group in one of their classes (Interaction #1; see Appendix B). Pass out the
confidential information to each group. Half of the groups will receive information
saying Jane is an acquaintance and half will receive information saying Jane is a good
friend. Each information sheet provides additional detail, appropriate to the context of
their relationship. Make sure students in different groups do not share their information—knowledge of the differences between groups reduces the likelihood that situational or personality biases will develop naturally in groups’ behavioral assessments.
Once the groups have read their confidential information, introduce Interaction #2 (see
Appendix B). This is the first interaction where groups will be asked to assess Jane’s
behavior. All discussion at this point should take place within each group. Ask each group to
discuss (three to five minutes) and write down their answers to the accompanying questions.
Next, introduce Interaction #3 and the accompanying questions (see Appendix B).
Again, all discussion (three to five minutes) should take place within each group, and
answers should be written down. Once this discussion is finished, begin class discussion
and debriefing.
This activity encourages students to think reflectively about when and why they use personality and situational attributes in their everyday lives. Begin the debriefing discussion
with the Interaction #2 questions: Why do you think Jane missed the first two meetings?
What is your reaction to Jane’s apology and claim? Have each group share and explain
their evaluation of Jane. Answers here might be different as a result of the differences
in the confidential information provided to each group. Acquaintances might say Jane
is flaky (personality), while friends will say she is busy (situational). Alternatively, both
group types might give Jane the benefit of the doubt—Jane could be very busy or
dealing with an emergency.
Next, discuss group answers for Interaction #3 questions: Why do you think Jane isn’t
here yet? What is your evaluation of Jane? There will be noticeable differences between the
acquaintance and friend groups. Acquaintance groups will likely use personality attributes:
Jane “is a terrible student” or “doesn’t care about this class/project.” Friend groups will
likely use situational attributes and may express concern: Jane “is really busy with her
internship” or “has an emergency—hopefully everything is okay!”
Ask students to consider the answers and explanations of each group: What similarities
and differences do you notice? Why do you think these similarities and differences exist?
Depending on the attributes each group used to describe Jane and the students’ depth of
explanation, it is entirely possible that details of the confidential group information have
not yet been shared. If not, ask groups to provide that information—it is particularly
important that friends know Jane has an internship, and acquaintances know almost
nothing about Jane. Draw attention to the rationale given for evaluations of Jane.
Expand discussion to connect groups’ responses to personality and situational attributes.
This discussion illuminates the circumstances under which students use personality and
situational attributes when evaluating others’ behavior. As a result, students will understand attribution theory and attribution bias better, and will be able to pay more attention
to their own behavioral assessments in everyday life.
This activity provides a clear illustration of attribution bias generated by students themselves, and is fun and engaging. Students are quick to participate in group discussion,
offering a defense for Jane as they would their friends, or sharing stories about previous
group experiences. Through sharing personal stories, students provide personalized justification for their evaluations. Class discussion highlights the differences between “friend”
and “acquaintance” groups in perception and evaluation of Jane. Completing this activity
allows students to experience using attributes and engaging in attributional bias.
Student comments offer a variety of insight into perception and attribution theory. In
one class, all of the groups gave Jane a “free pass” for missing the first few meetings. Students shared stories of their own occasional trouble with time management, stating they
wouldn’t want to be thought of poorly for missed meetings. This reaction allows a discussion of attribution bias beyond the friend/acquaintance distinction: what happens when
we add in other factors?
One potential limitation is students’ natural level of compassion. For example, one
group assigned the “acquaintance” information became very concerned about whether
Jane was alright; their shared concern became a more important factor in their assessment
than the provided confidential information. As a result, this “acquaintance” group developed an assessment of Jane closer to that of the “friend” groups. While this level of concern
is admirable, it did change the outcome of the activity and discussion.
Variations could assess Jane’s behavior in light of other theories or concepts (social
information processing theory, selective listening), with additional confidential information (roommates, co-workers, complete strangers), or may include additional attribution theory factors (stability and controllability). Students can label each identified
attribution as situational or personality in their notes, which can be turned in for participation points. Regardless of variation, this activity provides an opportunity for hands-on
engagement with topics that are particularly challenging for students to discuss fully in the
classroom environment.
References and suggested readings
Crandall, C. S., Eshleman, A., & O’Brien, L. (2002). Social norms and the expression and suppression of prejudice: The struggle for internalization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82
(3), 359–378. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.82.3.359
Jones, E. E., & Nisbett, R. E. (1987). The actor and the observer: Divergent perceptions of the causes
of behavior. In E. E. Jones, D. E. Kanouse, H. H. Kelly, R. Nisbett, S. Valines, & B. Weiner (Eds.),
Attribution: Perceiving the causes of behavior (pp. 79–94). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
Associations, Inc.
Sedikides, C., Campbell, W. K., Reeder, G. D., & Elliot, A. J. (1998). The self-serving bias in relational context. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(2), 378–386. doi:10/1037/00223514.74.2.378
Tetlock, P. E. (1985). Accountability: A social check on the fundamental attribution error. Social
Psychology Quarterly, 48(3), 227–236.
Trenholm, S., & Jensen, A. (2013). Interpersonal communication. New York, NY: Oxford University
Weiner, B. (2000). Intrapersonal and interpersonal theories of motivation from an attributional
perspective. Educational Psychology Review, 12(1), 1–14.
Appendix A: Confidential group information
Friends: Jane is a good friend, and you hang out all the time. She’s a kind and considerate person,
and places high value on others’ time. As a result, Jane is almost always early for meetings. Jane is
great to work with on group projects because she always puts in tons of effort. This semester, Jane
has an internship with a local business! Jane is excited about this position and hopes it will lead to
job offers after graduation.
Acquaintances: Jane is an acquaintance. You’ve taken a few classes together, and she seems
friendly. It’s currently 4 weeks into the school year, and you haven’t noticed whether Jane has
come to class over the first few weeks.
Appendix B
Interaction #1
Situation: Your professor has assigned groups for an upcoming project. You end up in the same
group as Jane, one of your classmates.
Interaction #2
Situation: Today, Jane is 10 minutes late to your third group meeting. She missed the first two meetings. When Jane arrives, she exclaims “I’m so sorry I’m late—I promise it won’t happen again!” As
the meeting progresses, it becomes clear that Jane didn’t prepare at all–none of her work is done!
1. Why do you think Jane missed the first two meetings?
2. What is your reaction to Jane’s apology and claim?
Interaction #3
Situation: Three days later, you have your fourth group meeting. The meeting started 30 minutes
ago, and Jane hasn’t arrived yet.
1. Why do you think Jane isn’t here yet?
2. What is your evaluation of Jane? Why?
Copyright of Communication Teacher is the property of Taylor & Francis Ltd and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.
C 2005)
Journal of Family Violence, Vol. 20, No. 3, June 2005 (
DOI: 10.1007/s10896-005-3647-8
“I didn’t do it, but if I did I had a good reason”:
Minimization, Denial, and Attributions of Blame
Among Male and Female Domestic Violence Offenders
Kris Henning,1,4 Angela R. Jones,2 and Robert Holdford3
Women are increasingly being arrested and prosecuted for assaulting an intimate partner. Whereas
extensive research has been conducted to identify the treatment needs of male domestic violence
offenders, few studies have examined females convicted of the same charges. In the present study
1,267 men and 159 women convicted of intimate partner abuse were compared on scales assessing
attributions of blame for their recent offense, minimization, denial, and socially desirable responding.
Research with male offenders has identified these factors as important treatment targets, as they appear
to influence an offender’s risk for noncompliance and recidivism. The results of the study suggest
that both male and female domestic violence offenders engage in socially desirable responding
during court-ordered evaluations, that both attribute greater blame for the recent offense to their
spouse/partner than they acknowledge for themselves, and that significant numbers of both genders
deny the recent incident and/or minimize the severity of the offense. Areas for further research are
highlighted along with a discussion of the implications of these findings for practitioners.
KEY WORDS: domestic violence; female offenders; attributions; cognitive distortions.
and more women convicted of domestic violence are being ordered to attend domestic violence programs (DVP)
in the community (Hamberger & Arnold, 1990).
Designed to address the problems of male batterers,
traditional DVPs usually focus on male-oriented power
and control issues, negative attitudes toward women, poor
communication skills, and cognitive factors such as minimization, denial, and external attributions of blame for
the abuse (Hamberger, 1997; Healey et al., 1998; Pence
& Paymar, 1993). The applicability of these traditional
programs to female domestic violence offenders is certainly subject to debate. In the broader offender treatment
literature it has been argued that female offending has
different causes (e.g., Chesney-Lind, 1989; Katz, 2000)
and thus, requires gender-specific treatment approaches
(Morash et al., 1998). Comparisons of male and female
offenders may help to determine whether the same is true
for domestic violence.
Only a handful of studies is available in the literature
that specifically address the treatment needs of female domestic violence offenders and how female offenders differ
Recent data suggest that a growing number of women
are being arrested for intimate partner assault (Martin,
1997; Saunders, 1995). In California, for example, the
proportion of domestic violence arrests involving a female offender increased from 6% in 1988 to 17% by 1998
(State of California, 1999). Other states have experienced
similar increases in female arrests and women now account for a substantial proportion of those charged with
domestic offenses (Henning & Feder, 2004; Swan, 2000).
Few efforts have been made to characterize these female
arrestees and we currently know very little about their
treatment needs. Despite this lack of knowledge, more
1 Portland
State University, Portland, Oregon.
of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee.
3 Exchange Club Domestic Violence Assessment Center, Memphis,
4 To whom correspondence should be addressed at PO Box 751, Administration of Justice, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon 97202;
2 University
C 2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.
from their male counterparts. In a recent study Henning
and Feder (2004) compared a large sample of men (5,578)
and women (1,126) arrested for assaulting a heterosexual
intimate partner. They found that female arrestees as a
group have fewer putative risk factors for recidivism than
their male counterparts. Specifically, women in the sample
were less likely than men to have prior arrests on record
or to have a history of substance abuse. Victims of female
arrestees reported less severe prior domestic violence and
were less likely than victims of male arrestees to feel seriously threatened by their partner. These findings suggest
that different criminal justice sanctions should be considered for male and female domestic violence offenders, as
the latter are probably at lower risk for noncompliance
and recidivism.
Henning et al. (2003) compared the mental health
histories and current functioning of 281 women and
2,254 men convicted of intimate partner assault. Women
in their study were more likely than men to have been prescribed psychotropic medications, to have attempted suicide, and to evidence personality dysfunction, while men
were more likely to have problems with substance abuse
and early conduct disorder. In short, the female domestic
violence offenders appeared more likely than males to
have longstanding psychiatric problems that may warrant
individual treatment as opposed to the group counseling
commonly used with male offenders.
Hamberger and Potente (1994) interviewed
67 women convicted of intimate partner assault and came
to the opinion that traditional male-oriented DVPs were
inappropriate for most female …
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