Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 797–830 | Cite as

Indeterminate Responses to Attitudinal Questions About Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in Rural Bangladesh

  • Kathryn M. Yount
  • Nafisa Halim
  • Sara Head
  • Sidney Ruth Schuler


Using data from 165 participants in a survey experiment in six Bangladeshi villages, we explored the levels and correlates of women’s indeterminate responses to a five-part attitudinal question on intimate partner violence (IPV) against women from the 2007 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey. Over 80 % had indeterminate responses to all five parts of the question. Indeterminate responses included silence or initial non-response (53–58 %), misunderstanding the question (30–37 %), and conditional opinions (7–13 %). The percentages of women who justified IPV were lower when indeterminate responses were permitted (7–12 %) than when they were not (37–57 %). Older women (≥26 years) with less schooling (≤2 grades) whose husbands were older (≥36 years), had less schooling (≤8 grades), and were at least 7 years older than the respondent often had higher odds of giving indeterminate responses. Husbands’ attributes and spousal age gaps were most consistently associated with women’s indeterminate responses. Latent power, or fears of expressing transgressive views, may underlie women’s indeterminate responses to attitudinal questions about IPV against women. Recommendations for further research are discussed.


Attitudes about gender Attitudinal surveys Bangladesh Demographic and Health Surveys Indeterminate responses Intimate partner violence Response effects 



This paper was supported in part by a research grant from the National Institutes of Health (1R21HD058173-01, co-PIs Sidney Ruth Schuler and Kathryn M. Yount). We appreciate the comments of anonymous reviewers on a prior version of this manuscript, and we gratefully acknowledge the contributions of our study participants and in-country collaborators and field staff. Any remaining errors of omission or commission are the responsibility of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn M. Yount
    • 1
  • Nafisa Halim
    • 2
  • Sara Head
    • 3
  • Sidney Ruth Schuler
    • 4
  1. 1.Hubert Department of Global Health and Department of SociologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of International HealthBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health EducationEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.FHI 360WashingtonUSA

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