Gender Equality, Beliefs, and Perpetration of Dating Violence: Comparison of Male University Students in Asian and European Cultural Contexts
Methods: Collected between 2001 and 2006, the International Dating Violence Study (IDVS) provides data from a convenience sample drawn from 79 universities in 32 countries (n = 17, 404). The current study consists of a subsample of male students in Asia (n=784 from China, Japan, and South Korea) and Europe (n=575 from Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, and Sweden). The countries were chosen not only because of their geographical proximity but also shared cultural heritage: Confucianism in Asia and Christianity in Europe. In addition, each selected country participated in the Gender Empowerment Measure rankings reported by the United Nations in 2007, with the result indicating higher levels of gender equality among all European nations than any Asian nations. Measures that indicate the level of patriarchal cultural norms included Dominance, Hostility to Women, Jealousy, Negative Attribution, and Violence Approval Scales. Violence perpetration was measured with the revised Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2).
Results: Independent sample t-tests resulted in significantly higher scores for Asian male students in all scales that indicate beliefs supportive of patriarchal cultural norms compared to their European counterparts. Asian students reported significantly more perpetration of severe physical assault. Binary logistic regression revealed dominance as a strong and significant predictor of severe physical assault, severe psychological aggression, and severe sexual coercion. Violence approval was also a strong and significant predictor of severe physical assault and severe psychological aggression.
Conclusions and Implications: As anticipated, Asian male students, compared to their European counterparts, showed significantly higher levels of beliefs indicative of patriarchal cultural norms. It is concerning that some of these beliefs, particularly dominance and violence approval, were strong and significant predictors of severe forms of abuse, which were perpetrated significantly more by Asian male students against their dating partners. The findings suggest that the strong patriarchal cultural influence in the Asian context may be a relevant factor in forming individual beliefs that contribute to perpetration of severe dating violence. Incorporating some aspects of Confucianism may be helpful in addressing beliefs and behavior in dating relationships when working with Asian students. While findings based on a convenience sample cannot be generalized, the analysis adds to the knowledge base for social workers striving to provide culturally competent services.