Attitudes toward intimate partner violence in dyadic perspective: Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa

Julia Behrman, Margaret Frye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Although intimate partner violence (IPV) is inherently a relational event shaped by couple- level factors, most empirical examinations of IPV-related attitudes have used individuals as the unit of analysis. We apply a dyadic perspective to the study of attitudes about the acceptability of IPV, harnessing couple- level data from 33 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, a region characterized by particularly high levels of both the incidence and acceptance of IPV. We document considerable geographic heterogeneity in the distribution of attitudinal concordance or discordance regarding the acceptability of IPV within couples, a descriptive finding that is overlooked by studies focused on individuals as the unit of analysis. In addition, applying a dyadic perspective to the correlates of attitudinal concordance, we demonstrate that joint exposure to schooling, work, and media is more predictive of joint rejection of IPV than are singular exposures of wives or husbands. Finally, we show that distinct combinations of attitudes within couples are associated with differential likelihoods of wives reporting having recently experienced emotional, physical, or sexual IPV. In particular, when both partners reject IPV, wives are significantly less likely to report experiencing each type of IPV in the past year compared with any other combination of attitudes. Our results reveal that a dyadic perspective provides a comprehensive understanding of intracouple contexts that enhances our perspective on these important demographic outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1143-1170
Number of pages28
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Africa
  • Concordance
  • Family
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography


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