Sonja Bauman

Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Cheryl Terrance


Research has suggested that stereotypes have significant influence over how individuals view women who experience domestic violence (Ayyildiz, 1995; Browne, 1989, 1993; Callahan, 1994; Goodmark, 2008; Jenkins & Davidson, 1990; Mahoney, 1991; Russell & Melillo, 2006; Schneider, 1986; Terrance & Matheson, 2003; Wimberly, 2007). It has also been suggested that battered woman syndrome may not be a complete or appropriate explanation of the emotions and experiences of battered women (Ayyildiz, 2007; Callahan, 1994; Schneider, 1986; Wimberly, 2007). The current study examined the influence of stereotype fit and battered woman syndrome nomenclature on public perceptions of a battered woman who killed her abuser. Participants read one of four newspaper scenarios that varied the stereotype fit of a battered woman and the use of battered woman syndrome nomenclature. They then indicated the degree to which the woman fit the image of a battered woman, her responsibility in the events described in the scenario, and whether or not they viewed her as the victim or perpetrator of a crime. Overall, women were found to be more likely to view the battered woman as a victim and believe she acted in self-defense. Men were more likely to view the woman as a victim only if she fit the stereotypical image of a battered woman. Participants also indicated that they viewed the woman as being mentally stable and believed she was innocent of committing a crime. Together, results indicate that women and men differ in their perceptions of battered women who kill. Implications are discussed.