Victim-blaming Social Norms and Violence Against Women: Correcting Misperceptions or Morality Drive Policy and Behavior Change?

59 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2023

See all articles by Sevinc Bermek

Sevinc Bermek

London School of Economics

Konstantinos Matakos

King’s College London - Department of Political Economy; Harvard University - Department of Government

Asli Unan

Humboldt University of Berlin

Date Written: October 21, 2023

Abstract

Intimate partner violence (IPV) entails huge socioeconomic and psychological costs, yet policy and behavior that combat it respond sluggishly. Are prevailing victim-blaming social norms responsible? What can change them to enact policy, and behavior change? We address these with a survey experiment on a representative sample of Turkish population (N = 4,000). We incentivize both the elicitation of social norms and subjects’ behavior. Leveraging a within-subject design, we provide information correcting any (mis)perceptions about victim-blaming norms. We find that attitudes and policy/behavior are influenced by different channels, respectively. While correcting misperceptions about norms (through information) causes a positive change in attitudes, it does not cause policy or behavior change. The former simply reflects conformity: initial perceptions about social norms were too “pessimistic”. In contrast, the process of eliciting higher-order beliefs about others’ views (norm) --absent any information provision-- forces subjects to engage in relative moral evaluations and causes a sizable policy and behavior response. The latter is driven by subjects who perceive themselves to be more virtuous (less victim-blaming) than average and donate to IPV prevention. Thus, moral comparisons triggered by introspection, raise the salience of norms generating `soft learning' that causes policy and behavior change. The policy implication is that, while changing societal attitudes is a long-run process, welfare-improving social change is possible in the short-run even without changing peoples' values.

Keywords: gender-based violence, social norms, policy, victim-blaming, information, morality, survey experiment

JEL Classification: D83, D91, I31, J12, J16, Z13

Suggested Citation

Bermek, Sevinc and Matakos, Konstantinos and Unan, Asli, Victim-blaming Social Norms and Violence Against Women: Correcting Misperceptions or Morality Drive Policy and Behavior Change? (October 21, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4609063 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4609063

Sevinc Bermek

London School of Economics ( email )

Konstantinos Matakos (Contact Author)

King’s College London - Department of Political Economy ( email )

Bush House NE
London, London WC2B 4BG
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/kostasmatakos/

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Asli Unan

Humboldt University of Berlin ( email )

Unter den Linden 6
6
Berlin, 10117
Germany

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