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NCJ Number: NCJ 241775     Find in a Library
Title: Sharpening Ockham's Razor: The Role of Psychopathology and Neuropsychopathology in the Perpetration of Domestic Violence
  Document URL: HTML PDF 
Author(s): Kenneth Corvo ; Pamela Johnson
  Journal: Aggression and Violent Behavior  Volume:18  Issue:1  Dated:January/February 2013  Pages:175 to 182
Date Published: 02/2013
Page Count: 8
  Annotation: This article applies the philosophical principle of Ockham’s Razor (other things being equal, simpler theories are better) to a review of current explanatory theoretical views on the perpetration of domestic violence.
Abstract: Current major explanatory theoretical views of domestic violence perpetration can be summarized as feminist/socio-cultural, intergenerational transmission under social learning theory, and psychological/psychosocial explanations. The feminist/socio-cultural theory views “patriarchy” as the sole cause of domestic violence (men against women). Under this theory, “patriarchy” is typically imprecisely defined, and the empirical basis for connecting patriarchal features of a society to domestic violence is weak. Intergenerational transmission based on social learning (witnessing and internalizing violent behavior as normative in interaction between intimate partners) is suitable for empirical testing; however, research has shown modest effect sizes for this theory. Psychological/psychosocial theories of domestic violence perpetration have examined individual psychological, psychiatric, behavioral, and neurological risk factors. The authors of this article argue that psychological/psychosocial theories are the clearest, most persuasive, and rational of the theories of domestic violence perpetration. The central point of this article is that domestically violent men and women differ from their non-violent counterparts on important psychological variables that are most closely related to their violent behavior against an intimate partner. They use the principle of Ockham’s Razor to “shave” off theories with superfluous explanations in favor of simpler theories that explain the same set of facts equally well. From the perspective of predictive or explanatory power, neither the feminist socio-cultural nor the intergenerational transmission views explains the facts of domestic violence perpetration as well as psychological/neuropsychological theory. This theory can generate hypothetical statements that can be empirically tested; predict relevant events, characteristics, or circumstances; explain variation in the phenomena observed; and has goodness of fit with known empirical data. 79 references
Main Term(s): Victims of violence
Index Term(s): Cultural influences ; Social Learning ; Crime causes theory ; Domestic violence causes ; Psychological influences on crime
Publisher URL: 
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Country: United States of America
Language: English
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