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What would your neighbor do? An experimental approach to the study of informal social control of intimate partner violence in South Korea


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Although research on bystander intervention and informal social control of intimate partner violence (IPV) is increasingly common, empirical anomalies remain and experimental studies on population samples are rare. This study reports the effects of a new experimental approach to the study of informal social control of IPV by neighbors on a small population sample of 100 married men in Seoul, South Korea. We hypothesized that men randomly assigned to a high-perceived informal social control condition would have lower self-estimated likelihoods of IPV perpetration in response to a vignette. We also hypothesized that the effect of random assignment would be different for that portion of the sample that reported perpetration of family violence (IPV or child abuse). Compared to the nonperpetrating portion of the sample, perpetrators of family violence in the sample randomly assigned to the high perceived control condition experienced a significant drop in self-estimated likelihood of IPV perpetration.
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DOI: 10.1177/1077801219833826
Research Article
A Tale of Two Confucian
Capitals: The Role of Friends
and Secrecy in Beijing and
Clifton R. Emery1 and Shali Wu2
How do your friends respond to intimate partner violence (IPV), and does it make
a difference? This article examines the relationships between wives’ IPV secrecy,
Confucian sex-role norms, informal social control by friends, totalitarian style partner
control by husbands, and husbands’ IPV in a study of Beijing and Seoul. Hypotheses
were tested using a three-stage cluster sample of 760 married/partnered women
from Beijing (n = 301) and Seoul (n = 459). Multilevel regression models run on
the combined data found that totalitarian partner control by husbands was positively
associated with husband IPV severity. Friends’ protective approaches to informal social
control of IPV were associated with less husband IPV severity, but punitive approaches
were marginally associated with more. However, the combined findings gloss over
very different findings for the two cities. The authors argue that the etiology of much
IPV in Beijing is better characterized by social disorganization, but the etiology of much
IPV in Seoul is better characterized by totalitarian control (deviant order).
intimate partner violence, informal social control, friendship, secrecy, totalitarian
partner control
Informal social networks such as family, friends, and neighbors can be serious risk
factors for violence. The literature on intergenerational transmission of intimate
1The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR
2Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea
Corresponding Author:
Shali Wu, Professor, School of Management, Kyung Hee University, 26 Kyungheedae-ro, Dongdaemun-
gu, Seoul, 02447, South Korea.
833826VAWXXX10.1177/1077801219833826Violence Against WomenEmery and Wu
2 Violence Against Women 00(0)
partner violence (IPV) suggests that children who witness physical violence between
their parents are at risk of using physical violence against future spouses (Ehrensaft
et al., 2003; Stith et al., 2000). Characteristics of neighborhoods such as neighbor-
hood-level poverty are risk factors for IPV even when household income is controlled
(Cunradi, Caetano, Clark, & Schafer, 2000), indirectly suggesting the importance of
network effects. Theory and empirical research on the deviance of peers suggests
friendship networks can also be risk factors for victimization by and perpetration of
violence (Matza, 1964/1990; Molnar, Browne, Cerda, & Buka, 2005; Nofziger, 2009).
In contrast, how informal social networks of family members, friends, and community
members may protect women from violent husbands has been of less interest to the
research community until recently (but see Emery, Wu, Kim, Pyun, & Chin, 2017;
Goodkind, Gillum, Bybee, & Sullivan, 2003; Klein, 2012; Latta & Goodman, 2011;
Taylor, Banyard, Grych, & Hamby, 2016). Recent research has found that attempts by
informal social networks to deter, prevent, and limit violence by husbands are associ-
ated with less violence and fewer injuries (Browning, 2002; Emery, Wu, Kim, Pyun,
& Chin, 2017). However, extant research is almost completely limited to informal
social control by neighbors or, in some cases, by family members (Emery, Wu, Kim,
Pyun, & Chin, 2017). This article examines the relationships between informal social
control of husband IPV (ISC_IPV) by wives’ friend networks and husbands’ IPV in a
three-stage cluster sample of 720 married or partnered women living in Seoul and
Beijing. Relationships between secrecy about IPV, Confucian sex-role norms, totali-
tarian partner control (Emery, 2011), and informal social control by friends are used to
explain husbands’ IPV severity. The models are compared across the two cities.
Informal Social Control of IPV: Theoretical Rationale
Informal social control comprises acts undertaken by ordinary people (not employees
of the state) to maintain public order and stop crime (Sampson, Raudenbush, & Earls,
1997). Broadly, the concept originates in the social disorganization tradition (Shaw &
McKay, 1942). Social disorganization theory tends to assume that motivation to com-
mit crime is near universal and existence or lack of controls explains which individu-
als actually commit crime (Kornhauser, 1978). The theoretical justification for the
efficacy of control rests, in turn, on rational choice theory (cf. Matsueda, Kreager, &
Huizinga, 2006); if would-be perpetrators are rational actors, sanctions that impose
costs for crime should decrease it (Hirschi, 1969/2002; Patterson, 1982; Sampson
et al., 1997).
In a seminal paper, Sampson et al. (1997) substantially advanced the concept of
informal social control by moving the discussion from costs associated with deviance
to specific acts of informal intervention undertaken to prevent crime. Empirically, they
measured this using agreement with the Likert-type items: Your neighbors could be
counted on to intervene if (a) “children were skipping school and hanging out on a
street corner,” (b) “children were spray-painting graffiti on a local building,” (c) “a
child was showing disrespect to an adult,” (d) “there was a fight in front of your house
and someone was being beaten or threatened,” and (e) “because of budget cuts, the fire
Emery and Wu 3
station closest to your home was going to be closed down.” Sampson et al. (1997)
argue that neighborhood solidarity is critical to facilitate informal social control. The
combination of neighborhood solidarity and informal social control (collective effi-
cacy) is negatively associated with homicide even when the previous year’s homicide
rate is controlled (Sampson et al., 1997).
Informal Social Control of IPV: Empirical Shortcomings
Despite the great promise of informal social control, research examining the relation-
ship between collective efficacy and violence “behind closed doors” (Straus, Gelles,
& Steinmetz, 1980/2006) achieves only mixed results. Browning (2002) found a nega-
tive relationship between collective efficacy and IPV, but DeKeseredy, Schwartz, Alvi,
and Tomaszewski (2003) found none. Similarly, Emery, Jolley, and Wu (2011) found
no relationship between collective efficacy and desistance from IPV. Findings are
similarly mixed on the physical abuse of children by parents (see Molnar, Buka,
Brenna, Holton, & Earls, 2003, vs. Guterman, Lee, Taylor, & Rathouz, 2009).
Emery, Trung, and Wu (2015) argued that the reason for the mixed findings on
informal social control and violence “behind closed doors” (Straus et al., 1980/2006)
was not the fault of theory, sampling, or analysis, but of measurement. Neighborhoods
with identical norms about informal social control of crime on the street (captured by
the collective efficacy measure) might have disparate norms about violence within the
home, with some neighborhoods viewing this as crime but other neighborhoods view-
ing this as informal social control necessary to keep women and children in line.
Emery, Trung, and Wu (2015) developed a new measurement called informal social
control of child maltreatment (ISC_CM) and found support for two types of informal
social control: one with a central focus on protecting the victim (protective) and the
other with a central focus on punishing the perpetrator (punitive). They found that
protective ISC_CM by neighbors was significantly associated with less very severe
physical abuse of children in Hanoi, Vietnam (Emery, Trung, & Wu, 2015). They
found no association between physical abuse and punitive ISC_CM. Taylor et al.
(2016) found that the presence of a bystander was associated with worse rather than
better outcomes for IPV victims, but did not distinguish between protective and puni-
tive informal social control.
Using a similar scale to Emery, Trung, and Wu’s (2015), Emery, Wu, and Raghavan
(2015) developed a measure of ISC_IPV and implemented it in a random population
sample from Beijing, China. Respondents were asked to evaluate how their neighbors
might respond if they witnessed the respondent’s spouse physically hurting him or her.
The seven-item scale consisted of the following: (a) get in between my partner and me,
(b) try to calm my partner down by talking, (c) criticize my partner, (d) threaten to tell
others about it, (e) call the red arm bands (neighborhood committee), (f) call the police,
and (g) threaten my partner. Possible responses were (1) my neighbors would never do
this, (2) might do this, (3) would probably do this, (4) would definitely do this, and (5)
actually did this. Emery, Wu and Raghavan (2015) divided the scale differently, into
whether neighbors had actually responded to IPV (5 on the scale) and whether the
4 Violence Against Women 00(0)
respondent perceived a response to be likely. They found that actual response by
neighbors was associated with less injury from IPV, but perception of likely response
without actual response was associated with more injury. A positive association
between injury and perceived likelihood of control may occur because victims take
fewer measures to protect themselves when they perceive neighborhood control as
forthcoming. Using the same scale to look at ISC_IPV by family members in a larger
data set, Emery, Wu, Kim, Pyun, and Chin (2017) found protective ISC_IPV by family
members was associated with less IPV by husbands in Beijing. Protective ISC_IPV
consists of the first two items on the whole ISC_IPV scale.
Frye et al. (2012) conducted an exploratory study of 74 New York residents’ ideas
about how to respond to a neighboring husband’s IPV and the feasibility and effective-
ness of those responses. Cluster analyses of the convenience sample indicated four
clusters: victim oriented, perpetrator oriented, community oriented, and formal sys-
tems oriented. Victim-oriented responses were perceived as most effective, but formal
services responses were perceived as most feasible (Frye et al., 2012). The perceptions
of Frye et al.’s (2012) sample with respect to efficacy of personal versus formal
response are indirectly supported by Emery, Wu, and Raghavan’s (2015) findings.
Informal Social Control of IPV: By Friends
The research literature on informal social control and IPV reflects the classic preoc-
cupation with crime and neighborhood. A Google Scholar search on the terms “infor-
mal social control” and “husband violence” returned 15 publications, all of which
examine informal social control by neighbors. All studies presenting empirical research
on informal social control of IPV dealt with control delivered by neighbors. A similar
search of “informal social control” and “intimate partner violence” returns 482 results.
When the additional term “friend” is introduced as a constraint, the results drop to 175.
Very few of these 175 publications focus on informal social control of IPV by friends
(Latta & Goodman, 2011, is an exception).
Although informal social control of IPV by friends is neglected in the research lit-
erature, the neglect is not total. More research has been done under the broader cate-
gory of response to IPV by informal social networks. Some of this work discusses the
important role informal social networks of perpetrators may play in exacerbating vio-
lence against women (cf. Capaldi, Dishion, Stoolmiller, & Yoerger, 2001; Flood, 2013;
Raghavan et al., 2009). Other work discusses the role of social support by informal
social networks; for example, Wright (2015) found that informal social support from
friends was associated with more severe IPV (probably a selection effect), but that this
finding was less relevant in neighborhoods characterized by concentrated poverty. A
substantial body of research finds that the responses of friends to IPV are critically
related to revictimization and victim well-being (Goodkind et al., 2003; Latta &
Goodman, 2011; Levendosky et al., 2004; Tan, Basta, Sullivan, & Davidson, 1995).
Klein (2012) presents a major review of qualitative and pertinent quantitative research.
She argues that cultural norms that enhance equality, secure women’s sexual auton-
omy, promote third party responses to disrupt assaults, undermine collusion with
Emery and Wu 5
perpetrators, and support victims who disclose result in reduced prevalence and sever-
ity of IPV.
In addition to documenting this important role, the conceptualization employed by
the research Klein (2012) reviews raises the question of the difference between infor-
mal social control and broader informal social response. Following the informal social
control tradition, we conceptualize informal social control as the narrower category
included within informal social response.
Intimate Terrorism Versus Totalitarian Dictatorship
IPV cannot be appropriately viewed as a monolithic construct. In creating what is
arguably the most influential typology of IPV today, Johnson (1995, 2008) argues that
control-motivated violence is conceptually distinct from IPV not motivated by control.
Ample subsequent research suggests that making this distinction can be both useful
and important in practice (Graham-Kevan & Archer, 2003; Johnson, 2006; Johnson &
Leone, 2005; Kelly & Johnson, 2008; Leone, Johnson, & Cohan, 2007). Emery (2011)
argues that although Johnson’s (1995, 2008) work represented critical progress in con-
ceptualization of IPV, Johnson’s typology loses the component of power so critical to
the feminist analysis of abuse. This occurs because Johnson (2008) stresses control
motive, rather than achieved control or power. Starting from the sociotheoretical tradi-
tion, Emery argues that IPV must be classified in terms of order, power, and norms.
Both order and power differentials between partners increase across Emery’s (2011)
types: anarchic, violent conflict, tolerant dictatorship, despotic dictatorship, and totali-
tarian dictatorship. Totalitarian dictatorship is characterized by perpetrator governance
of “mundane areas of everyday life that are not normally thought of as norm- or rule-
governed” (Stark, 2007, p. 229).
Subsequent research suggests that both order (Emery, Wu, & Tsolmon, 2015) and
power (Emery, Thapa, & Wu, 2017) are significantly related to husband IPV severity
even when control motive is statistically controlled. Given the concerns with Johnson’s
(2008) typology, we choose to follow Emery’s (2011) conceptualization and denote
the most severe form of IPV as totalitarian dictatorship. This highly controlling type of
violence is associated with more severe IPV (Emery, Wu, & Tsolmon, 2015; Graham-
Kevan & Archer, 2003) and less victim help seeking from friends (Leone et al., 2007).
Attempts to isolate the victim are frequently conceptualized as part of the control
(Graham-Kevan & Archer, 2003). Emery, Wu, Kim, Pyun, and Chin (2017) found a
significant relationship between totalitarian control and IPV in Beijing.
Seasons of Light and Darkness1: Beijing and Seoul
East Asia is a unique context in which to study social issues. To an outsider in 2018,
Seoul and Beijing appear as glittering examples of an economic miracle. Shining sky-
scrapers dwarf the individual and packed but efficient subways rush commuters to
gainful employment in the world’s 15th and second largest economies, respectively
(United Nations, 2012). The people of China and South Korea have deep and abiding
6 Violence Against Women 00(0)
cultural, historical, and increasingly political ties. The three fundamental components
of Confucianism–respect for learning, filial piety, and harmony (Ornatowski, 1996)–
as well as face, are very much alive in both places. Ordinary adults in Korea and China
still very much believe that adult children have a moral obligation to care for their
parents financially (Chang, 2009; Kleinman et al., 2011; Sung, 1995), while their chil-
dren strive to enter an extremely competitive educational hierarchy (Fong, 2006).
Rates of IPV in both Korea and China are high. In China, 37% of men reported hit-
ting their wives at some point in the relationship (Parish, Wang, Laumann, Pan, & Luo,
2004), and in South Korea, the rate of any violence between spouses in the last 12
months is 16.7% (Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, 2010). Emery, Wu, and
Raghavan (2015) extrapolated from their sample to estimate an annual physical IPV
rate of 20.4% and an annual IPV injury rate of 7% in Beijing. Among families with
children in Seoul, Emery, Eremina, Yang, Yoo, Yoo, and Jang (2015) found that 12.2%
reported some IPV by the father in the last year. All available evidence suggests that
the policing of IPV in both places is at best inconsistent and at worst nonexistent (Kim,
2006; Tam & Tang, 2005).
A growing research literature tends to blame Confucianism for IPV and child abuse
(Choi, 2004; Gao, 2003; Son, 2006; Zhai & Gao, 2009). Surely, this is a reductionist
interpretation of the Confucian tradition, and how the family interprets that tradition
matters. However, research does indicate that when that tradition is interpreted via
strict Confucian sex roles that relegate women to secondary status, the risk of IPV
increases (Emery, Kim, Song, & Song, 2013). Face is likely to be related to IPV
because self-face is related to a domineering conflict resolution style (Oetzel & Ting-
Toomey, 2003). However, we believe that concern for face may be strongly expressed
in a tendency to keep IPV secret.
Despite the many similarities, Korean and Chinese culture remains profoundly dif-
ferent, as does ordinary life in Seoul and Beijing. Beijing suffers unique problems with
social trust, perhaps driven by the breakneck pace of rural to urban migration (Zhang,
Wang, & Yu, 2015). In contrast, the Korean tradition has nothing resembling the “soft
Shanghai man” who cooks every night for his family and provides emotional and
financial support to his wife and daughter (Xu & Yeung, 2013).2 However, in the
absence of any previous rigorous quantitative comparative study of IPV and informal
social control in the two cities, we hesitate to speculate about differences in the model
Model Logic
The relationships between IPV secrecy, Confucian sex-role norms, and totalitarian
partner control are likely to be bidirectional. That is, a tendency among women to keep
their partner’s IPV secret and to hold strict Confucian sex-role norms are both likely
to make them more vulnerable to totalitarian partner control. On the other hand, inso-
far as totalitarian types try to brainwash their victims into traditional sex roles and
self-blame and keep them silent, totalitarian partner control may cause IPV secrecy
and Confucian sex-role norms. Similarly, insofar as strict Confucian sex-role norms
Emery and Wu 7
may make victims blame themselves or indicate friendship networks likely to blame
victims, informal social control of IPV by friends becomes less likely (West &
Wandrei, 2002). Controlling for these constructs in the same model allows us to exam-
ine the unique relationship of each with IPV by the male partner.
Hypothesis 1: IPV secrecy will predict male partner’s IPV severity.
Hypothesis 2: Confucian sex-role norms will predict male partner’s IPV severity.
Much like its relationship with IPV secrecy and Confucian sex-role norms, the
relationship between totalitarian partner control and informal social control of IPV by
friends is potentially complex. To the extent that the totalitarian partner controls and
isolates his partner successfully, such control will dampen interference by friendship
networks. At the same time, robust friendship networks may be more likely to react to
totalitarian control of a network member. Totalitarian partner control, like intimate
terrorism, is predicted to be positively associated with IPV severity (Emery, 2011;
Graham-Kevan & Archer, 2003; Johnson, 2008). This logic yields the following
Hypothesis 3: Totalitarian partner control will be positively associated with IPV
The literature review on informal social control suggests that informal social con-
trol of IPV by friends should help to protect women from IPV. That is, the logic of the
theory and much empirical work suggests the relationship between informal social
control of IPV by friends and husband IPV severity should be negative. However,
there is more reason to believe that the informal social control will be protective
when it is soft rather than hard (Emery, Trung, & Wu, 2015; Emery, Wu, Kim, Pyun,
& Chin, 2017) and observed rather than perceived (Emery, Wu, & Raghavan, 2015).
This yields the final hypothesis:
Hypothesis 4: Informal social control of IPV by friends will be negatively associ-
ated with IPV severity.
These relationships may be different in the two different cultures; hence, cultural inter-
action effects are tested.
The criminological literature review suggests the necessity of controlling for neigh-
borhood-level socioeconomic status, residential stability, and collective efficacy.
Models also control for respondent’s age, marital status, household income, household
size, and whether or not the respondent resides in a high-rise apartment or other dwell-
ing type, because these variables may be related to IPV severity, IPV secrecy,
Confucian sex-role norms, totalitarian partner control, and informal social control by
friends. Johnson (1995) speculated that both victims and perpetrators of intimate ter-
rorism were less likely to participate in random sample quantitative surveys (were
more likely to refuse to participate). For this reason, whether or not a refusal
8 Violence Against Women 00(0)
conversion incentive was necessary to persuade the participant to complete the survey
is also controlled.
The Beijing-Seoul Families and Neighborhoods Study (BSFNS) data3 are from a rep-
resentative random probability cluster sample of 506 couples in 50 Beijing neighbor-
hoods and 541 couples in 34 Seoul neighborhoods, collected in 2011 (Beijing) and
2012 (Seoul). Administrative districts (within the fifth ring road in Beijing) were used
to represent neighborhoods. About 10-15 couples per district were interviewed. Maps
of each district were obtained, and sampling was carried out using two random draws
from the uniform distribution to locate a random start point on the map, to which an
interviewer was sent. A refusal conversion protocol was used to keep response rates
high (80.2% in Beijing, 63% in Seoul). Interviewers were required to complete a 2-day
training, written exam, and certification interview designed by the first author to test
sensitivity to IPV and applied knowledge of oral informed consent procedures and
confidentiality. Participants needed to have been in a marriage or cohabiting relation-
ship within the last year to be eligible. Restricting the sample to female respondents
with complete data reduced the sample sizes to 301 cases in Beijing and 459 in Seoul
in the multilevel regression models.
Husband’s IPV severity. Husband’s IPV severity in the last year is measured using vic-
tim report of six physical violence items: (a) slapped; (b) pushed, grabbed, or shoved;
(c) hit with object; (d) punched, kicked, or bit; (e) beat-up; and (f) used or threatened
to use a knife or gun. Responses to two IPV injury items (had a sprain, bruise, small
cut, or felt pain the next day because of a fight with the partner and had to see a doctor
[MD] because of a fight with partner) supplement the information on physical vio-
lence. These items are based on a modified version of the Conflict Tactics Scale–Short
Form (CTS2S), which has been found to have good concurrent validity with the longer
form, the CTS2 (Douglas, 2004). Possible responses were the following: once in the
past year, twice in the past year, 3-5 times in the past year, 6-10 times, 11-20 times,
more than 20 times, not in the past year but before, and never. Logistic regression
coefficients from wife’s IPV injury regressed on number of times each type of violent
act was perpetrated were used to weight the violent acts prior to combination in a
scale. Thus, a one-unit increase in the husband’s IPV severity scale is associated with
the same increase in the log odds of injury across the entire CTS scale. This corrects
for the apples and oranges problem that occurs when acts with very different probabil-
ities of causing injury are combined in a single scale. Reliability for the overall scale
was good (Cronbach’s α = .81).
Emery and Wu 9
Friendship. Informal social control of IPV by friends (friend ISC_IPV) was divided
into protective and punitive types following Emery, Trung, and Wu (2015) because
principal components and screeplot analyses of the five items produced results consis-
tent with their findings. The protective items were (a) my friends got in between my
spouse and me and (b) tried to calm my spouse down by talking. Punitive items were
(a) called the police, (b) threatened my spouse, and (c) used physical violence against
my spouse. The elbow in the screeplot suggested that a two-component solution was
adequate. Possible responses were my friends (1) would never do this, (2) might do
this, (3) would probably do this, (4) would definitely do this, and (5) actually did this.
An answer of 5 indicates that there was IPV by the husband and actual intervention by
friends. Although Frye et al.’s (2012) results were unpublished and unknown at the
time of study design and data collection, many of the items are very similar to items
generated by their research participants. Cronbach’s alpha was .80 for the protective
and .77 for the punitive scale.
Totalitarian partner control. Empirical measures for the totalitarian type were not devel-
oped at the time of data collection (see also Emery, Wu, & Chan, 2018). Hence, we
used Johnson and Leone’s (2005) measure from the Violence Against Women Survey.
These Likert-type items were your spouse (a) tries to limit your contact with family
and friends, (b) is jealous or possessive, (c) insists on knowing who you are with at all
times, (d) puts you down in front of others, (e) makes you feel inadequate, (f) shouts
or swears at you, and (g) prevents you from knowing about or having access to the
family income. Cronbach’s alpha was .88.
Confucian sex-role norms. The respondent’s Confucian sex-role norms were measured
using Emery, Kim, Song, and Song’s (2013) measure. These Likert-type items were
(a) men should be the leaders in society, (b) men should take the initiative in romantic
relationships, (c) wives should do most household chores, (d) the family’s economic
decisions should be made by the husband, (e) wives should follow their husbands’
opinions about the wife’s job, (f) the husband’s opinion is more important than the
wife’s in making important decisions about the children, and (g) from time to time it
is OK for husbands to use violence against their wives to preserve the husband’s
authority. Cronbach’s alpha was .83.
Secrecy about IPV. Respondent’s secrecy about IPV was measured with the following
Likert-type items: If my spouse ever hit me, I would try to keep it secret from (a) my
friends, (b) my family, (c) my neighbors, (d) my co-workers, (e) my boss, and (f)
everyone. Screeplot analysis of the eigenvalues after factor analysis suggested a sin-
gle-factor solution is adequate, and Cronbach’s alpha was .94.
Collective efficacy. Collective efficacy was measured in two subscales using items very
similar to those in Sampson et al. (1997). The neighborhood solidarity scale (Cron-
bach’s α = .87) consisted of the following Likert-type items: (a) this is a close-knit
neighborhood; (b) if your family has an important problem, people around here care;
10 Violence Against Women 00(0)
(c) people in this neighborhood can be trusted; and (d) people around here are willing
to help their neighbors. The neighborhood informal social control scale (Cronbach’s α
= .86) consisted of the following Likert-type items: You could count on your neigh-
bors to do something about it if (a) children were skipping school and hanging around
outside, (b) children were showing disrespect to an adult, (c) there was a fight in front
of your house/apartment, and (d) you were away and someone was trying to steal your
bike. We calculated neighborhood-level averages for each of these scales and entered
them as predictors in Level 2 (neighborhood level) of the multilevel model.
Level 1 (individual level) controls. At the individual level, we controlled for the wife’s
age and education, whether the family resides in a high-rise apartment, household size
and income, and whether or not a refusal conversion incentive was needed to persuade
the respondent to participate in the study.
Level 2 (neighborhood level) controls. In the survey, we measured household income,
size, and the respondent’s education. Factor and screeplot analyses suggested these
load onto a single factor. These three variables were standardized and added together
(household size × –1). They were then averaged over each neighborhood to create a
neighborhood socioeconomic status control. Neighborhood averages for the survey
measure of the number of years lived in the neighborhood were created and entered in
Level 2 as a residential stability control.
Level 3. Conceptually, Beijing/Seoul is a Level 3 variable. However, for the mod-
els, this is mathematically equivalent to entering it as a Level 2 variable.
Analytic Issues
Multilevel (mixed effects) models in Stata11 were used to test the hypotheses (Luke, 2004).
The first level of our model estimates the individual’s response as a function of the P indi-
vidual predictors and controls outlined in the hypotheses, as in the following equation:
ij p
=+ +
. (1)
The second level of our model estimates the neighborhood means of IPV severity as a
function of neighborhood averages in socioeconomic status, years resident, and col-
lective efficacy (solidarity and informal social control of street disorder). This is illus-
trated in the equation below:
j() ()()(+ + + E
+ uj (2)
For each hypothesis, the model was first run for the combined Seoul and Beijing data.
Then the model was run for each city separately. A limited interaction model was then
used to test whether the main predictors of interest (IPV secrecy, Confucian sex-role
Emery and Wu 11
norms, totalitarian partner control by the husband, and ISC_IPV by friends) had differ-
ent relationships with IPV in the two different cities. Finally, each model was run as a
full interaction model to test whether the overall model differed between cities.
Descriptive statistics are reported for Beijing and Seoul in Table 1 (some of which is
also found in Emery et al., 2018). T tests and chi-square statistics indicate significant
differences between the two cities. In all, 9.7% of Beijing women and 11.4% of Seoul
women have experienced physical violence by husbands in the last year, but the rates
are not significantly different.4 Mean secrecy about IPV was significantly higher in
Beijing (3.03) than in Seoul (2.56) (p < .001). On the contrary, totalitarian partner
control by husbands was substantially higher in Seoul (7.69%) than in Beijing (1.34%)
Table 1. Sample Descriptive Statistics (Some Also Found in Emery, Wu, & Chan, 2018).
Beijing Seoul Difference
N M SD N M SD T/χ2
Any husband IPV 289 9.69% 0.30 431 11.37% 0.32 0.43
Husband IPV severity 289 0.26 1.18 431 0.61 4.16 1.63
Wife’s IPV injuries 302 0.22 1.80 447 0.14 1.07 0.64
Secrecy about IPV 300 3.03 0.82 458 2.56 0.74 6.25***
Totalitarian partner control
298 1.39 0.55 455 1.86 0.75 6.63***
Totalitarian partner control
298 1.34% 0.12 455 7.69% 0.27 11.73***
Any totalitarian style husband
286 0.35% 0.06 427 2.11% 0.14 3.05
Confucian sex-role norms 301 2.14 0.48 459 1.77 0.47 6.72***
Soft ISC_IPV by friends 297 2.45 1.06 450 3.29 0.75 10.28***
Hard ISC_IPV by friends 295 1.36 0.56 450 1.85 0.77 7.16***
Neighborhood solidarity 302 11.10 2.93 462 11.45 2.64 0.63
Neighborhood ISC 302 10.18 3.20 462 11.83 2.58 5.12***
Household income (USD) 298 997 815 462 4,367 2,353 17.56***
Years in neighborhood 302 10.32 14.39 420 7.47 6.55 1.81
High-rise apartment 325 68.77% 0.46 414 41.79% 0.49 13.33***
Household size 290 3.37 1.07 450 2.71 0.92 7.62***
Wife’s age 292 42.82 12.07 453 44.27 9.57 1.27
Wife’s education (Years) 296 12.65 3.49 458 13.61 2.53 2.70**
Married 301 94.68% 0.22 435 92.18% 0.49 1.92
Note. IPV = intimate partner violence; ISC = informal social control.
p < .1. *p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
12 Violence Against Women 00(0)
(p < .001; see Emery et al., 2018). When totalitarian style violence is examined,
Seoul’s prevalence (2.11%) is marginally higher than Beijing’s (0.35%) (p < .10).
Beijing women reported more Confucian sex-role norms (2.14 vs. 1.77, p < .001).
Women in Seoul reported substantially higher mean ISC_IPV by friends for both pro-
tective (3.29 vs. 2.45, p < .001) and punitive (1.85 vs. 1.36, p < .001) varieties. Seoul
respondents reported higher averages of neighborhood informal social control of street
crime (11.83 vs. 10.18, p < .001). Monthly household incomes were significantly
higher in Seoul. More Beijing respondents lived in high-rise apartments (68.77% vs.
41.79%, p < .001). Women in the Seoul sample had more education (13.61 vs. 12.65
years, p < .01).
Table 2 shows the frequency of husbands’ IPV and wives’ injuries in the last year. As
with most violence data, the findings are extremely right-skewed (higher frequencies
are rare). It is worth noting that more high-frequency violence items (more than 20
times) were endorsed in Seoul than in Beijing. The only nonzero entry for more than 20
times in the past year for the Beijing sample was “had a bruise,” whereas in the Seoul
sample there were four violence items with nonzero percentages for more than 20 times
in the past year. Only 3.9% of women who reported any husband IPV reported such
high-frequency (more than 20 times) IPV. Strikingly, no women in the Beijing sample
endorsed husband violence items more than 20 times in the past year (the only item was
injuries). Thus, when injuries are excluded, 0% of the Beijing sample who reported any
husband IPV in the past year reported high-frequency husband violence, whereas 6.1%
of the Seoul sample reporting any husband IPV reported high-frequency husband IPV.
However, this difference was not statistically significant.
Table 3 shows the model for husband IPV severity. Wives’ secrecy about IPV was
not predictive of husband IPV severity. Confucian sex-role norms were marginally
negatively associated with husband IPV severity (B = −0.57, p < .10). Soft ISC_IPV
by friends was associated with less husband violence severity (B = −0.46, p < .01);
hard ISC_IPV by friends was associated with marginally more (B = 0.43, p < .10).
The relationship between soft ISC_IPV by friends and husband IPV severity appears
to be driven by the Seoul data, but the coefficients (B = −0.11 for Beijing and B =
−0.63 for Seoul) are not significantly different (B = 0.18, ns). Totalitarian style partner
control by the husband was associated with significantly more husband IPV severity
(B = 0.90, p < .001). This finding is driven by the Seoul data (B = 1.15, p < .01), and
the difference in the relationship between the Seoul and Beijing models was margin-
ally significant (B = −0.89, p < .10).
Wife’s education was significantly associated with lower husband IPV severity (B
= −0.27, p < .001), but increases in household income were associated with more (B
= 0.34, p < .001). However, increases in household income were marginally associ-
ated with less husband IPV severity in Beijing (B = −0.19, p < .10), but with signifi-
cantly more in Seoul (B = 0.50, p < .001). Cases requiring refusal conversion were
associated with significantly more husband IPV severity (B = 1.15, p < .05).
Aggregate neighborhood characteristics were not related to husband’s IPV severity in
either city. The full interaction model suggests that the model is different between cit-
ies (χ2 = 41.2, df = 13, p < .001).
Table 2. Husbands’ Violence and Wives’ Injuries in the Last 12 Months.
Beijing Seoul
Slap 95.64 2.35 1.34 0.67 0.00 0.00 0.00 93.23 2.71 2.71 0.90 0.00 0.23 0.23
Push/grab/shove 93.27 4.71 1.68 0.34 0.00 0.00 0.00 95.22 1.14 1.59 0.91 0.23 0.23 0.46
Punch/kick/bite 95.62 2.36 1.01 1.01 0.00 0.00 0.00 96.20 2.01 0.89 0.45 0.22 0.22 0.00
Hit with object 94.61 3.03 1.01 1.01 0.00 0.34 0.00 93.88 2.49 2.04 0.91 0.23 0.00 0.45
Beat up 98.64 1.02 0.00 0.00 0.34 0.00 0.00 97.94 0.92 0.46 0.23 0.00 0.23 0.23
Knife or gun 98.66 1.34 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 97.99 0.89 0.89 0.00 0.22 0.00 0.00
Wives’ injuries
Had bruise 96.31 2.68 0.00 0.34 0.00 0.00 0.67 96.64 1.79 1.12 0.22 0.00 0.22 0.00
Needed doctor 97.66 1.67 0.00 0.67 0.00 0.00 0.00 97.32 1.56 0.45 0.45 0.22 0.00 0.00
Table 3. Explaining Husband Violence Severity.
Full model
(n = 587, 84)
Beijing model
(n = 258, 52)
Seoul modela***
(n = 329, 32)
Interaction modelb
(n = 587, 84)
Level 1
Confucian sex-role norms –0.570.32 0.002 0.17 –0.79 0.58 –0.860.44
Secrecy about IPV 0.06 0.19 –0.02 0.10 0.19 0.33 0.18 0.26
Soft ISC_IPV by friends –0.46** 0.16 –0.11 0.09 –0.630.33 –0.47** 0.18
Hard ISC_IPV by friends 0.370.22 0.01 0.16 0.560.33 0.31 0.23
Totalitarian partner control 0.90*** 0.22 0.22 0.15 1.15** 0.35 1.17*** 0.26
Wife’s age –0.005 0.01 –0.010.007 –0.01 0.03 –0.004 0.01
Married –0.10 0.36 0.06 0.18 –0.17 0.70 –0.06 0.36
Wife’s education (Years) –0.27*** 0.06 0.004 0.03 –0.60*** 0.12 –0.26*** 0.06
Household income (1,000 USD) 0.34*** 0.08 –0.190.11 0.50*** 0.11 0.36*** 0.08
High-rise apartment 0.11 0.30 –0.340.19 –0.07 0.53 0.07 0.30
Household size –0.19 0.15 0.03 0.08 –0.280.29 –0.14 0.15
Refusal conversion 1.15* 0.51 0.22 0.31 10.29 0.83 1.10* 0.51
Level 2
Neighborhood SES (neighborhood mean) 0.07 0.12 –0.003 0.06 –0.20 0.27 0.06 0.12
Years in neighborhood (mean) 0.01 0.02 0.01 0.01 –0.21 0.14 0.007 0.02
Neighborhood solidarity (mean) 0.14 0.14 0.05 0.07 –0.53* 0.34 0.14 0.14
Neighborhood ISC (mean) –0.02 0.13 –0.05 0.07 –0.004 0.28 –0.03 0.14
Beijing 1.37* 0.61 1.78 1.85
Full model
(n = 587, 84)
Beijing model
(n = 258, 52)
Seoul modela***
(n = 329, 32)
Interaction modelb
(n = 587, 84)
Beijing × Confucian Sex-Role Norms 0.50 0.63
Beijing × IPV Secrecy –0.20 0.38
Beijing × Soft ISC_IPV 0.18 0.29
Beijing × Hard ISC_IPV 0.10 0.39
Beijing × Totalitarian Partner Control –0.890.48
Variance components
Intercept 0.00 0.00 0.02 0.07 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Level 1 residual 11.42*** 0.68 1.51*** 0.15 18.04*** 1.44 11.43*** 0.68
R2 within (between) .12 (.06) .03 (.22) .18 (.09) .08 (.32)
R2 overall .11 .07 .19 .22
Note. Hierarchical linear modeling coefficients followed by standard errors. IPV = intimate partner violence; ISC = informal social control; SES =
socioeconomic status.
aFull interaction model shows Seoul model significantly different from Beijing (χ2 = 41.2, df = 12, p < .001).
bInteractions: χ2 = 4.6, df = 5, p = .46.
p < .1. *p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
Table 3. (continued)
16 Violence Against Women 00(0)
IPV Secrecy and Confucian Sex-Role Norms
Hypothesis 1 postulated relationships between IPV secrecy and husband’s IPV sever-
ity. When ISC_IPV by friends, Confucian sex-role beliefs, totalitarian partner control,
and individual and neighborhood characteristics were controlled, there was no rela-
tionship between IPV secrecy and husband’s IPV severity. This suggests that IPV
secrecy (or alternately disclosure) may be most important because of relationships
with network informal social control of IPV and totalitarian partner control. It is pos-
sible, however, that the IPV secrecy variable is not directly related to husband’s IPV
because women suffering from IPV who also endorsed high IPV secrecy were less
likely to endorse IPV items on the survey. This would suggest a higher number of false
negatives for husband’s IPV when IPV secrecy and totalitarian style control are both
high and is congruent with Johnson’s (1995) argument that disproportionately higher
numbers of totalitarian cases drop out of quantitative data.
Hypothesis 2 postulated a relationship between Confucian sex-role norms and hus-
band’s IPV severity. In the full model, this relationship is counterintuitively negative,
although this is only marginally significant. The interaction term for Beijing–Seoul
differences in relationship is not significant. However, the coefficient for Confucian
sex-role norms is .002 for Beijing and –.79 for Seoul, suggesting the relationship is
strongly influenced by the Seoul data. This negative relationship contradicts previous
findings for Korea. Emery et al. (2013) found a large positive relationship between
Confucian sex-role norms and husband IPV when husband-perpetrated child abuse
was present. However, Emery et al.’s (2013) data were collected in 1999. It may be
that both the direction and the sign of the effect changed in Korea between 1999 and
when these Korean data were collected in 2012. Specifically, it is possible that in
2012, particularly in the more progressive capital of Seoul rather than in Korea gener-
ally, the presence and severity of husband violence are beginning to undermine the
legitimacy of patriarchal authority in the eyes of victims. However, this speculative
hypothesis requires testing in future research.
Totalitarian partner control. Hypothesis 3 postulated a positive relationship between
totalitarian partner control and husband IPV severity. Consistent with the findings of
Graham-Kevan and Archer (2003), totalitarian partner control was positively associ-
ated with husband’s IPV severity in the combined data and in the Seoul data. The
marginally significant interaction term suggests the relationship is strong in Seoul and
weak to nonexistent in Beijing. This difference between Seoul and Beijing is striking,
as are the bivariate differences between the two cities. Despite the existence of signifi-
cantly higher female education and household income in Seoul (factors typically con-
sidered to be protective against husband IPV), the rate of husband violence is higher
(albeit not significantly) in Seoul. Moreover, totalitarian style partner control is sub-
stantially and significantly higher in Seoul (7.7% of couples) than in Beijing (1.3% of
couples). Differences in totalitarian type husband violence are only marginally signifi-
cant, but it is worth noting that the prevalence is 6 times higher in Seoul (2.11%) than
Emery and Wu 17
in Beijing (0.35%). A separate analysis (multilevel model not shown) of this striking
finding confirmed that reported differences in totalitarian partner control remained
highly significant when IPV secrecy was controlled (p < .001). This finding suggests
that reported differences between Beijing and Seoul in totalitarian style partner control
by the husband and totalitarian type husband violence are not a product of cultural dif-
ferences in willingness to report IPV.
Informal social control of IPV by friends. Hypothesis 4 postulated that ISC_IPV by friends
would be negatively associated with husband IPV severity. The data generally sup-
ported this prediction for soft (protective) ISC_IPV by friends. Soft ISC_IPV by
friends was associated with lower husband IPV severity in the combined data and was
marginally significant in the Seoul data. The protective relationship was substantially,
but not significantly, weaker in the Beijing data. On the contrary, hard ISC_IPV by
friends was marginally associated with more, not less, husband IPV severity in the
combined data, but the finding does not hold for Beijing. Soft ISC_IPV by friends may
be a protective factor for husband IPV. The negative finding for soft ISC_IPV by
friends in combination with the protective findings of Emery, Trung, and Wu (2015)
and Emery, Wu, Kim, Pyun, and Chin (2017) reinforces the suggestion that softer
forms of informal social control may be more effective. This, in turn, adds to the grow-
ing literature on all forms of social control that suggest procedural justice as perceived
by the perpetrator has much influence on the efficacy of social control (cf. Watson,
Angell, Vidalon, & Davis, 2010). The continued protective findings for softer forms of
control suggest that violence prevention programs need to pay attention to how
bystanders intervene. The findings for hard informal social control by friends are also
important to consider. These findings suggest, if anything, that punitive informal
social control of IPV may be a risk factor. On the contrary, reverse causality bias for a
positive finding is not statistically conservative. In everyday parlance, this means that
the negative finding for soft (protective) informal social control ought not to appear if
more severe violence increased the likelihood of a response. The fact that the result is
significant suggests that the underlying relationship is strong. A positive relationship
between hard control and husband IPV, in contrast, would be made even stronger if
severe IPV elicited more informal control by friends. In that case, it is difficult to say
whether the relationship between hard ISC_IPV and husband IPV severity is the result
of true increased risk or reverse causality bias.
Disorder and Deviant Order Revisited: Beijing and Seoul
One of the most striking aspects of the findings was the differences in the models
between the two cities because they were unexpected. Given two Confucian capitals
with rates and severity levels of husband IPV which are not statistically different, it
seemed logical to assume that the processes by which that violence was engendered
were similar. We no longer believe this to be the case. IPV secrecy and Confucian sex-
role norms are significantly higher in Beijing than in Seoul. Totalitarian partner con-
trol and all forms of informal social control (soft ISC_IPV by friends, hard ISC_IPV
18 Violence Against Women 00(0)
by friends, and informal social control of street disorder) are higher in Seoul than in
Beijing. The prevalence of any totalitarian style husband violence is marginally higher
in Seoul, but this marginally significant difference belies the fact that the rate is 6
times higher in Seoul. Despite the fact that Seoul is significantly wealthier and more
educated, it has a higher rate of totalitarian style violence.
Emery’s (2011) discussion of the importance of order resulted in a classification
system for IPV which ranked couples partly on the basis of the degree of relationship
order. However, the logic was rooted in two fundamentally different explanations for
IPV. Feminist accounts, like Dobash and Dobash (1979), conceptualized IPV as deviant
order. That is, in contravention to the laws of society, a powerful man established a
regime of violence in the household which backed up his authority and supported his
privileges. The number of rules and regulations, and adherence to them in such house-
holds, could be quite high (cf. Emery, Wu, & Tsolmon, 2015; Stark, 2007). Social dis-
organization theory, on the other hand, links crime generally (Kornhauser, 1978) and
IPV specifically (Browning, 2002) to neighborhood-level disorganization or disorder.
We believe that our findings show an indirect, but more or less consistent, story of hus-
band IPV engendered more by deviant order in Seoul and more by disorder in Beijing.
Lack of social trust in urban China, perhaps related to historic levels of rural to
urban migration, is well documented (Zhang et al., 2015). In such an environment,
secrecy of all kinds, including IPV secrecy, may be high, and the reliability of social
networks may be low. The data show that IPV secrecy is higher in Beijing and all
informal social control is lower. Previous research shows that the protective qualities
of informal social networks may be degraded in such a climate of disorganization and
distrust (Gracia & Herrero, 2007; Rose & Campbell, 2000). Soft ISC_IPV by friends
appears to be a protective factor against husband IPV severity in Seoul, but not Beijing.
Similarly, totalitarian partner control is a strong predictor of husband IPV severity in
Seoul, but not Beijing, with a statistically significant difference between the relation-
ships in the two cities. Furthermore, when other variables such as wife’s education are
held constant, the relationship between household income and husband IPV severity is
marginally negative in Beijing, but significantly positive in Seoul. A negative coeffi-
cient for income is consistent with a social disorganization story. The significantly
positive coefficient we observed is not, and it constitutes an anomaly with respect to
social disorganization theory.
The annual prevalence rates of 9.7% and 11.4% suggest that 570,000 women in
Beijing and 212,000 women in Seoul suffered physical violence at the hands of their
husbands in the last 12 months. These are probably underestimates. All of these women
are at risk of injury, posttraumatic stress disorder, and other forms of psychological
distress (Plicha, 1996; Tolman & Rosen, 2001). However, policy and intervention
must take into account etiological differences in husband’s IPV.
In Seoul, our findings suggest that policy and intervention need to target totalitarian
partner control as a principal component of the serious husband IPV problem. This
suggests social change is needed to alter normative expectations of men and women in
intimate relationships. Although wives in Seoul are at higher risk of totalitarian partner
control, it appears that they are also better protected by their friends. In Beijing, we
Emery and Wu 19
argue that policy is needed to increase social trust and social integration. All forms of
informal social control we measured, including the neighborhood informal social con-
trol component of collective efficacy (Sampson et al., 1997), were lower in Beijing.
Without an attempt to remedy this, the informal networks that traditionally helped to
protect women will remain weak and less effective. Failure to address this problem
will allow the gains made by Chinese women toward gender equality to be under-
mined by social disorganization. This is particularly important because although the
prevalence rate of husband IPV is slightly (and nonsignificantly) higher in Seoul and
husband IPV severity is also higher, on average in Seoul, when the model controls are
introduced, a suppression effect is found. In the final model when other variables are
controlled, the coefficient for Beijing is positive. This indicates that when other vari-
ables are controlled, being in Beijing is a risk factor for husband IPV severity. Not only
is the relationship significant, but the direction has the opposite sign of the bivariate
relationship. Post hoc analyses revealed that the biggest reason for this change was due
to the household income being controlled. This suggests that when the positive hus-
band IPV severity–household income relationship in Seoul, along with its higher
household income, is taken into account, husband’s IPV severity may be significantly
worse in Beijing. The human costs of disorder are high.
These findings are subject to self-report bias, particularly because only one member of
each couple was interviewed. Because the quantitative data are cross-sectional and
nonexperimental, findings cannot be said to indicate causal relationships and can only
be generalized to Seoul and Beijing. Some null findings in the Beijing model may
have occurred because of a lack of statistical power. The lack of a relationship between
IPV secrecy and husband’s IPV severity may have occurred because study participants
high in secrecy also kept their IPV secret from the researchers. Finally, the measure for
totalitarian partner control is the same as the measure used previously for controlling
behaviors of intimate terrorists (Johnson & Leone, 2005). Hence, it cannot be said to
adequately reflect Emery’s (2011) totalitarian control.
Soft informal social control of IPV by friends was independently associated with less
husband IPV severity. When it comes to IPV, it appears that friendship and trust can
make a difference. Our findings suggest that informal social control by friends can be
protective, but how and where matter. It appears that it may not be effective when it is
punitive in approach or in places where social trust is low. Too frequently, cultural
characteristics are relegated to the sidelines in the study of IPV. Our findings suggest
that this is a bad idea; the etiology of IPV appears to vary substantially, and not idio-
syncratically, in different cultural contexts. This is true even when rates are similar. If
gains in women’s equality are to be protected, governments, collectivities, and the
individuals that constitute them must commit to creating societies that continue to
20 Violence Against Women 00(0)
extend the logic of equal political rights to the home and that have enough trust to
allow people to protect one another from harm.
We thank the H.F. Guggenheim Foundation for major support. We also thank Robert Sampson
and Chris Browning for blazing the trail and Sharon Foley for suggesting the measurement of
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship,
and/or publication of this article.
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship,
and/or publication of this article: Data collection in Beijing and Seoul was made possible by a
grant from the H.F. Guggenheim Foundation.
1. Paraphrased, like the title, from A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens, 1859/1998, p. 1).
2. In addition to being documented in previous research, these profound differences have
been experienced directly by the authors. The first author has lived in Seoul for a total of
9 years and in Beijing for 2 years. The second author has lived in Beijing for more than
10 years and in Seoul for 5 years. The first author is proficient in Korean, and the second
is fluent in Chinese. The lived experience of both involves much time in both Chinese
and Korean families. Hence, everyday experiences teach us to expect serious differences
between Beijing and Seoul.
3. The Beijing-Seoul Families and Neighborhoods Study (BSFNS) data were used by Emery,
Wu, and Chan (2018) to study determinants of controlling relationships. Hence, some
descriptive statistics presented in Table 1 are the same as those presented in their article.
4. These are likely to be underestimates, as the 273 husbands not included in our analyses
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Author Biographies
Clifton R. Emery is an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong and an affiliate of
Yonsei University in Seoul. His research interests include informal social control of intimate
partner violence and child maltreatment, theories of violence and maltreatment, and North
Korean refugees.
Shali Wu is a professor at the School of Management at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South
Korea. She got her graduate training in statistics, psychology, and business from the University of
Chicago. Her interests include cross-cultural decision making and collective family decision mak-
ing in an East Asian context. She is also affiliated with Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
... In order to remedy the problems associated with non-experimental approaches, Emery et al. (2017) developed an experimental vignette approach to study the effect of informal social control on intimate partner violence. Using a random sample of married men from Seoul, South Korea, they manipulated the men's perceptions of the likelihood of informal social control by neighbors, randomly assigning the men to high or low informal social control conditions. ...
... Using a random sample of married men from Seoul, South Korea, they manipulated the men's perceptions of the likelihood of informal social control by neighbors, randomly assigning the men to high or low informal social control conditions. Somewhat counter-intuitively, Emery et al. (2017) found that although high informal social control appears to have the expected effect for those who have perpetrated family violence in the past year, there is no deterrent effect on self-estimated likelihood of IPV perpetration for the nonperpetrating part of the sample. Using random samples of parents from the populations of Seoul, South Korea and Novosibirsk, Russia, we randomly assigned parents to high or low informal social control conditions. ...
... Likewise, the findings suggest that informal social control may not be of benefit in primary prevention of physical abuse (preventing parents who have never abused from becoming abusers). However, the significant finding for hypothesis 2 replicates the findings of Emery et al. (2017) and does suggest support for the argument that notification of the presence of informal social control can function as an accusation, with the attendant consequences documented in the forensic psychology literature (Bensley et al. 2004;Brinke and Porter 2012). When the accusation implicit in informal social control is founded (when the participant has in fact perpetrated child abuse), participants reacted in a way consistent with the predictions of informal social control theory. ...
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Evidence that informal social control by neighbors is negatively associated with child maltreatment is increasing, but extant studies are almost entirely cross-sectional and observational. We developed an experimental protocol for this vignette study to assess the effect of perceived informal social control on self-estimated probability of physical child abuse. Probability proportional to size cluster sampling of neighborhoods was used to obtain an experimental sample of 100 fathers from Seoul and 102 parents from Novosibirsk. In the experimental protocol, participants were told that the informal social control of child maltreatment scale was the most important scale, and that they had hence been given an example of the form “filled out by a neighbor.” Participants were randomly assigned to high or low social control by neighbors, provided the questionnaire, and were debriefed afterwards. Random effects regression models found a significant interaction between the treatment and perpetrator status in Seoul. Informal social control appears to have the desired deterrent effect on those who have perpetrated abuse. However, consistent with forensic research on those who are incorrectly accused of crime, results for non-perpetrators did not conform to this pattern.
... While perpetrators of IPV are unlikely to seek professional help to address their behavior, their close social supports including friends and family may be aware of the situation (Ashley & Foshee, 2005;Emery, Wu, Kim, Pyun, & Chin, 2017). Studies have suggested that informal social control by family members may be a protective factor in reducing severity of IPV, and that perceived neighborhood social control reduces the likelihood that a perpetrator will respond to a relationship problem with violence (Emery et al., 2017;Emery, Yang, Kim, Arenas, & Astray, 2016). ...
... They illuminate how friends may react in today's climate of domestic violence awareness, demonstrating that ingroup bias may not be as influential as previously thought. Friends of offenders may be in a unique position to recognize their friend's violence, offer support for behavioral change, and potentially reduce reoccurrence of violent offending (Banyard, 2011;Emery et al., 2016). It is important that friends actively voice disapproval and address IPV behaviors to avoid inferring acceptance and normalization of the violent behavior (McMahon & Banyard, 2012). ...
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Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a prevalent problem worldwide. Friends of perpetrators may be in a unique position to support or affect change. However, little is known about the influence of friendship with a perpetrator on responses to IPV. Social identity theory describes an ingroup bias whereby ingroup perpetrators of violence are viewed as less personally responsible than outgroup perpetrators. This bias has been consistently found for impersonal ingroup relationships, but there is limited research in relation to friends of perpetrators. Drawing on social psychological theories, this study aimed to explore the impact of friendship with a perpetrator on responses to IPV—specifically, on attributions of causality and social rejection. A fictional vignette depicting IPV perpetrated by either a friend or a stranger was presented to 174 university students, who then completed a questionnaire on attributions and social rejection. Results indicated that participants attributed high blame to the perpetrator regardless of their relationship, but friends of the perpetrator were significantly more likely than strangers to attribute the cause of the violence to external factors. Friends of perpetrators were likely to continue the friendship, though social rejection was significantly more likely when the perpetrator was attributed high blame and internal causality. Ingroup bias was not consistently present across all outcomes, demonstrating the complexity of social relationships and IPV. The findings suggest expectancy based on past behavior may influence attributions for violence in existing relationships. The combination of high blame, external attributions, and low social rejection was discussed in relation to opportunities for friends to intervene to prevent IPV. The multifaceted influence of friendship on responses to IPV perpetration suggests the need to consider relationship factors when designing violence prevention campaigns and bystander intervention programs.
... Acts of informal social control by neighbors has robustly shown to be protective against physical abuse (Emery, Trung, et al., 2015;Emery et al., 2017), abuse related injuries (Emery, Eremina, et al., 2015) and intimate partner violence (Emery, Thapa, et al., 2015). Informal social control could be an important barrier between child neglect and adverse consequences of neglect, such as death, depression and stunting. ...
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There is growing attention towards neighbourhood and contextual approaches to address and prevent child maltreatment. However, research into neighbour’s protective intervention (protective informal social control) in child neglect has seen little attention. Even amongst the limited research, the findings have not been consistent. The limited research on the subject is partly explained by the contested issue, which centres on the question; how do neighbours witness and intervene in non-aggressive forms of maltreatment, such as neglect? This article aimed to contribute to address this question by exploring thresholds in child neglect amongst ordinary residents. It draws on narrative interviews with seventeen female parents from seven settlements in Ghana. Severity of neglect, consistent exposure and poor parental capacity were key threshold measures reported. It emerged that threshold criteria (high or low) vary based on the subtypes of neglect. Whilst medical and supervisory neglect attracts low threshold criteria, more than one-time exposure is required to meet threshold in food neglect. The findings contrast the uncritical approach of lumping up subtypes of neglect. Instead, it advocates for the development of a context-based measure for protective informal social control of neglect that accounts for subtype effects. Such development should follow an item response theory approach.
... Examples of structural interventions in disadvantaged neighborhoods are community economic investment and development, or neighborhood greening initiatives (Boggess and Chamberlain, 2020;Branas et al., 2011;Garvin et al., 2013;Kuo and Sullivan, 2001;Kondo et al., 2018;Niolon et al., 2017). Examples of strategies targeting the neighborhood social environment are community mobilization for awareness raising, increasing informal social control, collective action, and bystander interventions (Banyard et al., 2020;Cohen et al., 2008;Emery et al., 2017;Hatcher et al., 2020;Holliday et al., 2019). In this regard, evidence from criminological research suggest that place-based policing strategies are particularly effective when trust, informal social control, and collective action among neighbors is also mobilized (Sampson, 2012;Weisburd, 2018;Weisburd et al., 2020). ...
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We conducted a small-area ecological longitudinal study to analyze neighborhood contextual influences on the spatio-temporal variations in intimate partner violence against women (IPVAW) risk in a southern European city over an eight-year period. We used geocoded data of IPVAW cases with associated protection orders (n = 5867) in the city of Valencia, Spain (2011-2018). The city's 552 census block groups were used as the neighborhood units. Neighborhood-level covariates were: income, education, immigrant concentration, residential instability, alcohol outlet density, and criminality. We used a Bayesian autoregressive approach to spatio-temporal disease mapping. Neighborhoods with low levels of income and education and high levels of residential mobility and criminality had higher relative risk of IPVAW. Spatial patterns of high risk of IPVAW persisted over time during the eight-year period analyzed. Areas of stable low risk and with increasing or decreasing risk were also identified. Our findings link neighborhood disadvantage to the existence and persistence over time of spatial inequalities in IPVAW risk, showing that high risk of IPVAW can become chronic in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Our analytic approach provides specific risk estimates at the small-area level that are informative for intervention purposes, and can be useful to assess the effectiveness of prevention efforts in reducing IPVAW.
... The estimated prevalence of PA in various API communities in the United States, for example, ranges from 18% to 52%, which is comparable with or slightly higher than the range of estimates found with other populations (Chang, Shen, & Takeuchi, 2009;Hicks, 2006;Yoshihama, Blazevski, & Bybee, 2014). Yet, API individuals and families access mental health and other formal services at much lower rates (David, 2010(David, , 2011Javier et al., 2014), define abuse within their own cultural contexts, and navigate uniquely hesitant and complex informal support networks (Emery, Yang, Kim, Arenas, & Astray, 2017;Preisser, 1999;Rajan, 2018;Snell-Rood, 2015). Scholars and service providers must work with the diversity of API communities, including Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders, groups especially neglected in the American and Asian American psychological literatures, to create services that are relevant for these communities and address the numerous sociocultural dynamics that social network members are navigating. ...
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Community-based research shows that 22% of Filipino Americans report experiencing at least one form of partner abuse (PA) during their lifetime, a higher prevalence rate than those documented among other Asian ethnic groups (Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, 2018). Victims with support resources are less likely to experience negative health outcomes and revictimization, and one of the most important sources of support is family and friends (Coker, Watkins, Smith, & Brandt, 2003). The vast majority of PA victims disclose first to family and friends and turn to them most for informal support (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). There is little research, however, that has involved asking family and friends directly about how they responded to loved ones involved in abusive intimate partnerships. The purpose of this study was to explore in depth family members’ and friends’ responses to Filipino loved ones involved in PA relationships. We used a constructivist–interpretivist research paradigm and phenomenological methods to conduct 29 in-depth interviews with family members and friends. Findings indicate that participants considered it important to respond in ways that allowed them to maintain their connection with loved ones and support their welfare, and 2 types of response categories emerged: communication responses and actions taken. Findings illuminate the importance of working collaboratively with family and friends to cocreate definitions of PA as well as identify PA responses that consider a collective perspective on individual well-being and address the dynamic relationship, social, and cultural contexts in which family and friends respond. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)
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Evidence from a growing research literature on the causes and effects of informal social control (ISC) and bystander interventions carried out by nonprofessionals against intimate partner violence (IPV) shows anomalies and unexplained counterintuitive findings. This study employs a new experimental vignette design to examine the hypothesis: high bystander legitimacy (in the eyes of potential perpetrators) will moderate the effects of (1) incipient ISC and (2) perceived ISC, on parent's self‐estimated likelihood of perpetrating IPV. The data consist of 210 rural Korean parents randomly drawn from Kyunggi province using a three‐stage cluster probability proportional to size approach. Parents were randomly assigned to low and high incipient ISC, perceived ISC, and collective legitimacy conditions, following a 2 × 2 × 2 experimental vignette approach. Hypotheses were tested using regression models with standard errors corrected for district clusters. Incipient ISC was associated with significantly less self‐estimated likelihood of perpetrating IPV. An interaction between high bystander legitimacy and incipient ISC was negative (B = −8.88, p < 0.01). The interaction between perceived ISC and legitimacy was not significant. However, the interaction between perceived ISC and female gender was positively associated with self‐estimated likelihood of perpetrating IPV (B = 8.61, p < 0.05). The findings suggest that the presence of a legitimate bystander (whom the potential perpetrator believes has a legitimate right to be concerned about his or her family) may deter parents from perpetrating IPV. Programs to boost ISC and bystander intervention should include modules that strengthen collective legitimacy.
This chapter examines the rationale for the development of the informal social control of child maltreatment scale. It examines the strengths of the scale vis a vis the collective efficacy approach and points to limitations that require improvement. It argues that measurement of informal social control of maltreatment must be shifted into three dimensions: from whether informal social control occurs to how, from a single act to sustained intervention, and from a single individual or family to an entire community. The chapter concludes with a critique of the field’s neglect of the theoretical underpinning of the logic of informal social control and suggests remedies that can improve the theoretical coherence of the construct and fit with empirical findings.
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Introduction The USA has the highest rate of community gun violence of any developed democracy. There is an urgent need to develop feasible, scalable and community-led interventions that mitigate incident gun violence and its associated health impacts. Our community-academic research team received National Institutes of Health funding to design a community-led intervention that mitigates the health impacts of living in communities with high rates of gun violence. Methods and analysis We adapted ‘Building Resilience to Disasters’, a conceptual framework for natural disaster preparedness, to guide actions of multiple sectors and the broader community to respond to the man-made disaster of gun violence. Using this framework, we will identify existing community assets to be building blocks of future community-led interventions. To identify existing community assets, we will conduct social network and spatial analyses of the gun violence episodes in our community and use these analyses to identify people and neighbourhood blocks that have been successful in avoiding gun violence. We will conduct qualitative interviews among a sample of individuals in the network that have avoided violence (n=45) and those living or working on blocks that have not been a location of victimisation (n=45) to identify existing assets. Lastly, we will use community-based system dynamics modelling processes to create a computer simulation of the community-level contributors and mitigators of the effects of gun violence that incorporates local population-based based data for calibration. We will engage a multistakeholder group and use themes from the qualitative interviews and the computer simulation to identify feasible community-led interventions. Ethics and dissemination The Human Investigation Committee at Yale University School of Medicine (#2000022360) granted study approval. We will disseminate study findings through peer-reviewed publications and academic and community presentations. The qualitative interview guides, system dynamics model and group model building scripts will be shared broadly.
Research shows that dating violence is characterized by bigger ratios than those found among married couples of mutual and less severe forms of violence. The aim of this study is to increase knowledge about the violence experienced by female students at the Complutense University of Madrid and Yonsei University of Seoul. A quantitative study with 435 interviews (308 with Spanish students and 127 with South Koreans) was carried out during the 2015–2016 academic year. Findings dating violence has decreased in both universities. Currently, women are experiencing new forms of control through communication technologies and it is still necessary to increase awareness about equality of roles and rights between women and men. Important differences found between data from Madrid and Seoul, in terms of the role played by women and the severity of violence, raise questions about different kinds of dating violence and missing variables which may explain its etiology.
Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious social problem that is often hidden, unnoticed or ignored. However, few studies have explored the effects of partner violence onset and/or persistence on the mental health of individuals. Thus, we aimed to investigate the association between IPV onset and depressive symptoms in both married men and women. Methods: In this study, nationally representative data from the Korea Welfare Panel Study were employed to track 1040 men and 3732 women for a period of six years (2010–2015). Depressive symptoms were scored according to the 11-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D-11). Results: Of our study population, 415 men (39.9%) and 866 women (23.2%) suffered from continuous intimate partner violence, meaning that they reported experience of IPV in both the previous and current year of investigation. Such subjects had significantly higher CES-D-11 scores (men β: 1.745, p ≤ 0001; women β: 1.970, p ≤ 0001) as did subjects whose partners turned violent from non-violent (men β: 1.623, p ≤ 0001; women β: 1.594, p ≤ 0001) than those with continuously non-violent partners (reference group). Subjects whose partners turned non-violent from violent continued to be more depressed (men β: 0.312, p ≤ 009; women β: 0.880, p ≤ 000) than those with continuously non-violent partners. Through subgroup analysis, we also found that lower SES, as a covariate relative to educational attainment, household income, and economic status, was associated with worsened depression following IPV onset. Unemployed women with consistently violent partners (β: 2.957, p ≤.0001) and unemployed men with newly violent partners (β: 3.010, p ≤.0001) were more depressed than the employed or self-employed. Conclusion: Our findings reveal that continuous IPV, as well as its onset, can have serious consequences for the mental health of its victims.
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Previous findings on the relationship between neighborhood informal social control and child abuse have been mixed. We implemented a scale created by Emery, Trung, and Wu to study protective informal social control of child maltreatment (ISC_CM) by neighbors in a three-stage random cluster sample of 541 families in Seoul, South Korea. Random-effects regression models found that protective ISC_CM significantly moderated the relationship between very severe abuse and child injuries. Very severe abuse was associated with fewer injuries when levels of protective ISC_CM were higher. Implications are discussed.
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Totalitarian style partner control is seldom studied apart from intimate partner violence (IPV) independently as an outcome. This article uses a comparative study of Beijing and Seoul to begin to address this gap in the research. We collected three-stage probability proportional to size cluster samples of married/partnered women from Beijing (n = 301) and Seoul (n = 459), using refusal conversion to keep response rates high. We hypothesized (1) totalitarian style partner control will be positively associated with Confucian sex role norms at the (a) individual and (b) neighborhood levels, (2) totalitarian style partner control will be positively associated with IPV secrecy at the (a) individual and (b) neighborhood levels, and (3) totalitarian style partner control will be positively associated with the need for refusal conversion. Mixed effects (multilevel) regression models supported all three hypotheses at the individual level. Surprisingly, neighborhood socioeconomic status was positively associated with totalitarian style partner control. The combined data conceal important differences between Beijing and Seoul. The rate of totalitarian style partner control is more than 5 times higher in Seoul, and Confucian sex role norms, at both the individual and neighborhood levels, predict totalitarian style control there. Based on our findings, we infer that cultural emphases on face may play very different roles in the etiology of totalitarian partner control in the two cities.
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It is often said that intimate partner violence (IPV) happens “behind closed doors”; however, research on IPV and other crimes suggests that witnesses are sometimes present. This suggests that bystanders may be in a position to help victims or potential victims of violence. Bystander behavior has been studied primarily in school settings, and consequently, little is known about how often it occurs or what its effects may be in the broader community. This study examined IPV incidents in a rural sample to assess the presence and potential impact of bystanders on victim-reported outcomes. One thousand nine hundred seventy-seven adult participants completed a questionnaire that asked about five violent behaviors (my partner threatened to hurt me; pushed, grabbed, or shook me; hit me; beat me up; sexually assaulted me), bystander characteristics, and victim outcomes (fear; injury; disruption of daily routines; mental health). Adult or teen bystanders were present for each IPV approximately one third of the time, except in the case of sexual assault (14.3%). When a bystander was present, victims reported higher rates of injury, greater disruption in their routines, and poorer mental health. When a bystander’s safety was threatened, victims reported more physical injury and more routine disruption. A considerable number of IPV incidents do not happen behind closed doors, and the presence of a bystander was associated with worse outcomes for victims. Prevention efforts for adult IPV may need to take a more cautious or nuanced approach to encouraging bystander action, especially when confronted with more severe incidents. Bystander safety should be a priority for violence prevention.
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Objective: Despite ample qualitative and anecdotal evidence that informal social control by extended family members is elicited by and has an impact on intimate partner violence (IPV), quantitative research on this topic is largely absent. Likewise, the literature on coercive control is underdeveloped in East Asia. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationships between informal social control by family members, coercive control, and husbands’ IPV in a Chinese context. Method: Using data from a 3-stage cluster sample of 302 married and partnered Beijing women, we developed a 2-item measure of protective informal social control of IPV by adult family members. Both partial least squares and random effects regression models were used to evaluate hypotheses to guard against methodological artifacts. Results: Protective informal social control of IPV by adult family members was associated with significantly less IPV by the husband. Higher levels of protective informal social control of IPV were associated with a significantly weaker coercive control—IPV relationship for husbands’ IPV severity. Conclusion: The findings suggest that the protective/punitive distinction is a vital one for research on IPV. Moreover, findings indicate that highly controlling relationships are associated with less violence when protective control is present. Hence, interventions that boost protective control may help protect women against some of the most injurious, lethal forms of IPV.
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We argue that the concept of power has been inadvertently sidelined in recent theory and research on husband violence. Three types of relationship power may matter with respect to husband violence: attempted power, actual power, and achieved power. Analyses of a randomly selected representative sample of 270 married or partnered women in Kathmandu showed that actual power was related to husband violence prevalence, severity, and injury. Achieved power was related to husband violence prevalence and severity, and attempted power was related to husband violence injury. Implications are discussed.
Forced hospitalization of people with mental disorders has long been a critical issue in the mental health services. Coercion and Aggressive Community Treatment is the first sustained description and analysis of what happens when `aggressive' treatment becomes `coerced' treatment. Mental health professionals poignantly discuss the tension they feel between wanting to do everything to treat desperately ill people and the need to respect the rights of these same people who want to make their own decisions, even if this means forgoing treatment.
Family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors are often the first to know that a woman has been abused by an intimate male partner. What is the proper course of action for those with knowledge of abuse? Using a wide range of empirical data from international sources, Renate Klein documents informal third parties as the first port of call, sources of support and interference, and gatekeepers to formal services. Family and social network members disrupt ongoing assaults, respond to disclosures of abuse, and provide solace and practical help. These networks do not always side with victims, however, and may either sympathize with or actively support perpetrators. Klein illuminates the complexities of these contingent situations. Her analysis highlights the potential of informal third parties for effective intervention, demonstrating their significant role in promoting societies free from rape and domestic violence.