Appraisal distortions and intimate partner violence: Gender, power, and interaction

Jason B. Whiting, Megan Oka, Stephen T. Fife

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


In relationships characterized by control, abuse, or violence, many appraisal distortions occur including denial and minimization. However, the nature of the distortion varies depending on the individual's role in the relationship (i.e., abuser or victim). Reducing these distortions is an important component in treatment success and involves accepting responsibility for actions and attributions. This study used constructivist grounded theory methods to explore the following questions: (1) What are the types of distortions that are used by individuals who have been in violent or abusive relationships? (2) What are the gender and power differences in the appraisal distortions used? (3) What are the functions and interactions of the distortions in the relationship dynamics? Qualitative analysis of interviews with 29 individuals who had been in abusive relationships found that there were several types of distortions used by participants, but there were differences in the function of the distortion, depending on the individual's role in the abuse. These generally corresponded to power and gender, where the male as perpetrator used different distortions (or used similar distortions for different reasons) than did the female as victim. Suggestions for research as well as treatment implications for both offenders and survivors of abuse are given.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-149
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Marital and Family Therapy
Issue numberSUPPL.1
StatePublished - Jun 2012


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