Departmental Papers (SPP)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

December 2005


Fault and responsibility are key concepts in understanding how victims and assailants are, or are not, held accountable by society. We used a fractional factorial vignette design with a community-residing sample of 3,679 adults to examine judgments about intimate partner violence (IPV). Although fault, or causal responsibility, was assigned most often to assailants (69%), respondents assigned solution responsibility most often to both persons (52%) or to the victim alone (31%): interpersonal communication for couples (38%) and self-protective actions for victims (i.e., engaging formal authorities [12%] and/or leaving the assailant [11%]) were the most frequent suggestions. Potential injury to the victim and gender/relationship-based norms had the greatest impact on judgments. Findings may inform strategies to alter social norms regarding IPV.


Postprint version. Published in Sex Roles, Volume 53, Issues 7-8, October 2005, pages 573-589.
Publisher URL:

NOTE: At the time of publication, author Susan B. Sorenson was affiliated with the University of California. Currently (August 2007), she is a faculty member in the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.


social norms, intimate partner violence, fault, responsibility, solution



Date Posted: 15 August 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.