Johnson's Differentiation Theory: Is It Really Empirically Supported?
Journal of Child Custody, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 4-24, 2015
30 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2015 Last revised: 1 Nov 2015
Date Written: 2015
Michael Johnson's differentiation of different "types" of domestic violence has had significant impact on the field, including courts and providers. Yet aspects of the typology, in particular, Johnson's claim that non-control-based "situational couple violence" is by far the most common form of domestic violence, have been problematic, particularly in family courts. The quasi-scientific label is already being used by judges and evaluators to minimize abuse claims brought by one parent against the other. One reason Johnson's typology has been so quickly and widely accepted is its claim to an empirical basis. But what do the data actually prove? In this article, Professor Meier takes a close look at the studies and data Johnson references and finds them substantially lacking in the empirical "proof" he asserts they provide. In fact, the studies might well support an opposite conclusion to Johnson's: that control-based abuse is far more common than truly "situational" domestic violence.
Keywords: children, abuse, custody, family court, domestic violence, quantitative research
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation