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NICEP 2023-11: Silence kills! Victim-blaming social norms and violence against women



Despite its huge social, psychological and economic costs, gender-based, intimate partner violence (IPV) is a phenomenon that persists in many countries. IPV is often not actively contested by society the persistence of victim-blaming norms might increase its social acceptability and thus hinter policy and behavior change. Are persisting victim-blaming attitudes and lack of action/policy support because of differences in own values or social norms? This paper examines the role of patriarchy values and social norms on gender attitudes towards and action/policy support regarding intimate partner violence. We conducted an online survey experiment in which a sample of 4,000 respondents in Turkey –a country with the highest IPV prevalence among OECD members– was randomly assigned to receive hypothetical IPV scenario treatment with or without invocation of social norms, or control. Simply making the existence of a social norm salient (by eliciting respondents’ incentivized beliefs on what the majority/others think) increased support for policies to combat IPV by 3 to 4 percentage points compared to the control group. Our results suggest that while patriarchal attitudes are rather immovable and better at predicting own attitudes towards gender-based IPV, social norms do a much better job at changing policy preferences and (incentivized) behavior. Thus, policy change is possible even if individual patriarchy values are relatively stable. These findings highlight the need to consider the role of social norms when designing policies to tackle IPV. By exploiting our dynamic information-updating design, we also find strong convergence of individuals’ attitudes (on gender-based violence) to the elicited social norms.

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Sevinç Bermek, Konstantinos Matakos and Asli Unan



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Posted on Thursday 20th July 2023

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