Attitudes toward Dating Violence among College Students in Mainland China: An Exploratory Study

By Anderson, Jared R.; Chen, Wen Chi et al. | Violence and Victims, September 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Attitudes toward Dating Violence among College Students in Mainland China: An Exploratory Study


Anderson, Jared R., Chen, Wen Chi, Johnson, Matthew D., Lyon, Sarah E., Lee, Chih-Yuan Steven, Zheng, Fuming, Ratcliffe, Gary C., Peterson, F. Ryan, Violence and Victims


This study investigates attitudes toward psychological and physical dating violence among college students in mainland China (n = 245). The results of this study indicate that among our sample of college students in mainland China, men and women were relatively similar in their attitudes toward male perpetrated and female perpetrated physical dating violence and female perpetrated psychological dating violence. As has been found in previous research, men and women in our sample were more accepting of female perpetrated physical and psychological dating violence than male perpetrated physical and psychological dating violence. Finally, among several variables that predicted dating violence attitudes, shame emerged as a potentially important variable to include in future studies on dating violence in Chinese populations.

Keywords: China; college students; dating violence; predictors; shame

Dating violence is a worldwide phenomenon that has significant mental and physical health ramifications for those involved. Studies show that there are relatively high rates of physical assault (30%-34%) and psychological aggression (93%-98%) between dating partners in the United States (Riggs & O'Leary, 1996), as well as high rates of sexual coercion (27.8%), physical assault (22.3%), and psychological aggression (79.1%) reported by college women in Canada (DeKeseredy & Kelly, 1993). Although the literature on dating violence comes predominantly from North American samples, one notable exception is the international dating violence study. This study gathered data from 31 universities worldwide and found prevalence rates for physical assault ranging from 17% to 45% within dating relationships (Straus, 2004).

In addition to its worldwide prevalence, dating violence is also associated with a host of negative outcomes. These include increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases, chronic or temporary health problems, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), somatic complaints, anxiety, fear, anger (Amar & Gennaro, 2005), depression (Banyard & Cross, 2008), lowered self-worth (O'Leary & Cascardi, 1998), decreased satisfaction with relationship and life, and greater levels of life disruption than those who do not experience dating violence (Amar & Alexy, 2005). Given the prevalence of dating violence and the negative physical and psychological health outcomes associated with being in a violent dating relationship, there has been an increased focus in the literature on understanding dating violence and the factors that predict dating violence. This study attempts to add to this growing body of literature by focusing on dating violence attitudes, a known predictor of dating violence, in an understudied population-college students in mainland China.

DATING VIOLENCE IN CHINA

The international dating violence study provides the clearest descriptive picture of physical dating violence in mainland China, with approximately 35% of college student dating relationships reporting some form of physical assault (Straus, 2008). Data from this project also indicates that women perpetrate dating violence significantly more frequently than men in China (Chan, Straus, Brownridge, Tiwari, & Leung, 2008; Straus, 2008). A qualitative study of Chinese women's aggression in dating relationships suggests that women's use of violence is perceived as normative behavior by both men and women (Wang & Petula, 2007). Although there is some descriptive information about dating violence in mainland China, the extant empirical literature provides very limited information about the factors that lead more than one third of mainland Chinese young adults to engage in dating violence. Partner dominance (Straus, 2008), depression, suicidal ideation, and self-harming (Chan et al., 2008) behaviors have all emerged as correlates of dating violence in samples that included college students from mainland China. However, there is yet to be empirical studies of factors associated with dating violence in a sample comprised solely of mainland Chinese young adults in dating relationships. …

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