Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Cultural Heterogeneity and Intimate Partner Violence in 17 Developing Countries: A Test of Competing Theories

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a pressing health and gender equality concern worldwide. A growing body of literature has assessed the risk factors associated with IPV, yet results have remained mixed and tests of competing theories limited. Moreover, despite the significant portion of intervention efforts aimed at changing social norms about violence, very little research has explored the effect of culture on IPV perpetration. In this project I begin to fill this gap. Using data from 5,437 communities across 22 Demographic Health Surveys in 17 low- and middle-income countries, I implement multilevel logit models to test two theories that make opposing claims about the influence of cultural context on the relationship between men’s attitudes toward and their perpetration of IPV. Specifically, I test the Theory of Reasoned Action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) against the Theory of Cultural Heterogeneity (Harding, 2007). My final analyses provide little support for either theory. They do, however, find a strong positive relationship between the proportion of people in one’s community that condone IPV and the likelihood of that individual perpetrating IPV. This finding underlines the need for future assessments of intimate partner violence to conceptually and methodologically account for how individuals are embedded within their community culture. It also raises a number of possible questions for analytic exploration regarding the relationships between cultural context and individual behavior.