The Importance of Cognitive Dissonance in Understanding and Treating Victims of Intimate Partner Violence
External mechanisms and batterer behaviors have commonly been cited as to why women remain in intimate partner violence relationships. However, past research has generally minimized the focus on individual psychological elements of victims that perpetuate their commitments to abusers. The current review proposes the potential for cognitive dissonance resolution as an underlying mechanism to affect female victims’ stay/leave decisions while in domestically violent relationships. High and low levels of self-esteem differentially affect the resolution of cognitive dissonance as explained by self-consistency and self-affirmation theories. Theories of commitment including the foot-in-the-door principle, justification of effort, and the investment model are applied specifically to the arousal of dissonance in victims. The importance of taking into account the mechanisms of dissonance arousal and subsequent reduction techniques are proposed for treating this population and preventing similar relationships in the future.
Cognitive dissonance, commitment, intimate partner violence, self-esteem
Nicholson, Shannon B., and David J. Lutz. "The importance of cognitive dissonance in understanding and treating victims of intimate partner violence." Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma 26, no. 5 (2017): 475-492.
Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma