Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation




Clinical-Community Psychology

First Advisor

Suzanne Swan


This paper proposes an integrated model illustrating the mechanisms by which religiousness may serve to influence individual beliefs regarding intimate partner violence (IPV) and the potential for subsequent abusive behavior. Intimate partner violence is a serious public health issue in the US, affecting over 25% of women at some point in their lives (CDC, 2010; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). Religion is a near ubiquitous aspect of American culture, with over 80% of Americans reporting some kind of belief in a higher power (Gallup, 2008. Overall, the literature shows that religiousness typically serves as a protective factor against IPV, but digging deeper, there is evidence to suggest that religiousness can serve as both a risk and a protective factor for IPV.

The present study proposed a model in which the relationships between religiousness, masculine power over women, and empathy would be mediated by endorsement of fundamentalist beliefs, as well as the potential for compassion towards close others to moderate those relationships. For this sample of 536 male college students, endorsement of fundamentalist beliefs partially mediated the relationship between religiousness and empathy. While religiousness by itself was positively associated with increased empathy, religiousness indirectly was associated with decreased empathy through fundamentalism. Conversely, religiousness had no direct relationship with masculine power over women, but was indirectly related to increased masculine power over women through fundamentalism. Compassionate love had no significant moderating effects on these relationships. Implications for research and intervention are discussed.


© 2015, Peter Warren