Sex Roles

, Volume 78, Issue 9–10, pp 637–652 | Cite as

“One Doesn’t Slap a Girl but…” Social Representations and Conditional Logics in Legitimization of Intimate Partner Violence

  • Solveig Lelaurain
  • David Fonte
  • Marie-Anastasie Aim
  • Nicolas Khatmi
  • Thibaut Decarsin
  • Grégory Lo Monaco
  • Thémis Apostolidis
Original Article


The present research, which fits into the conceptual framework of social representations, aims to analyze the impact of gender and legitimizing ideologies on the evaluation of intimate partner violence (IPV). Using an inductive mixed methods approach, two studies were conducted in a French context. In Study 1, 24 participants were asked to express their views about a vignette describing an IPV case during semi-structured interviews. In Study 2, 123 participants completed a questionnaire which was based on the results of Study 1. They were asked to evaluate the severity and justification for this same IPV case in relation to several situations identified in interviews. They also completed two scales measuring adherence to ideologies legitimizing male dominance: the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory and the Domestic Violence Myth Acceptance Scale. Results show expressed ambivalence by participants between condemnation of IPV and the use of conditional logics in order to minimize or justify it. The expression of this reasoning was determined by social regulations such as the situations in which the violence occurred and adherence to legitimizing ideologies. Our results are relevant for campaigns raising awareness and educational programs that take into account social representations underlying IPV legitimization.


Domestic violence Social beliefs Gender differences Patriarchy France 



Our work was supported by the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA). Solveig Lelaurain and David Fonte are both first co-authors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

The study was carried out in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments, the ethical principles of the French Code of Ethics for Psychologists, and the World Health Organization ethical recommendations for research on violence against women.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aix Marseille Univ, LPSAix-en-ProvenceFrance

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