Women, Violence and Victimization (crn: 32802)



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Psychology 1130: Special Topics in Psychology of Gender

Women, Violence and Victimization (CRN:32802)


Spring 2008
Instructor: Dr. Irene Hanson Frieze.

Department of Psychology. 3329 Sennott Square. 412-624-4336

e-mail: frieze@pitt.edu. Expect a reply within 24 hours.
Course Meets: 321 Cathedral. Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9:30-10:45am.
Description: Survey of research on interpersonal violence, with a focus on aggression within close relationships. Topics include attitudes about violence, general victim reactions to violence, and causes of aggression. These will be examined within the context of martial and dating violence, child and other family abuse, rape, child sexual abuse, and sexual harassment. Students will be expected to do observations related to the class at an agency addressing violence, or some other location where violence or sexual harassment occurs.
Course Objectives:


  • Understand current social science research on interpersonal aggression and violence. Be aware of how researchers define violence and some of the major research findings.

  • Be aware of community services for victims of interpersonal violence and of services for others affected by relationship violence.


Prerequisites: Research methods and at least 3 previous courses in psychology and/or sociology. Knowledge of basic statistics and research methods is assumed.
Cross-listing: This course is cross listed with Women’s Studies and is one of the courses that can be used for a Women’s Studies Certificate.
Required Texts: [on reserve in Hillman Library]

Hines, D. A., & Malley-Morrison, K. (2005). Family violence in the United States: Defining, understanding and combating abuse. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. [HM]


And other assigned readings announced in class.
Optional Text: [on reserve in Hillman Library]

Frieze, I. H. (2005). Hurting the one you love: Violence in relationships. Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth. [F]


Course Requirements: [based on 1000 total points]

  • Exams. There will be a midterm and a final exam. Each is worth up to 300 points for a total of 600. Exams will include essay questions and multiple choice questions. Sample exams from a previous class will be available on CourseWeb. Makeup or late exams will be all essays and are generally considered harder than the regular exams.

  • A late final exam will result in an automatic G grade, since it will be impossible to submit the grade in time.




  • Written reports. These can be either a description of observations relating to volunteer work related to class or more formal papers showing how course materials are relevant in your life or in the lives of people you know. These reports are worth a total of 300 points. See final pages of the syllabus for more information.




    • Observations at an Agency. Initial proposal and a final report with one observation relating to work at an agency dealing with victims of violence or with violent offenders. This observation should be discussed as it relates to the class, with appropriate citations to lecture and textbook material.

    • Personal Observation Reports. Two papers, discussing observations related to the class, with appropriate citations to lecture and textbook material.




  • Class Participation and Attendance. Up to 100 points. Class discussion is especially important for this course. Regular attendance is expected. This grade is based on how many classes are actually attended and by the level of participation in each class. Signing the class attendance sheets to document attendance is the student’s responsibility.




  • Extra Credit. [A total of 40 points can be earned through extra credit]. Presentation about a social agency working with victims of violence or with aggressors to the class. This must be scheduled in advance and is worth up to 40 points. The presentation should be about 20 minutes long, and should include transparencies or a laptop presentation and handouts for the class.



Assigning Grades.

975-1000=A+ 875-899=B+ 775-799=C+ 600-699=D

926-974=A 826-874=B 726-724=C Below 600=F

900-925=A- 800-825=B- 700-725=C-



Tentative Class Schedule
January 8-10. Introduction. Violence and aggression in everyday life. Violence in the family. Defining physical and psychological aggression.

  • [HM]. Chapter 1. Issues in the Definition of family violence and abuse. Chapter 2. pp. 31-34.

  • Optional: [F]: Chapter 1.


January 15 - 29. Causes of aggression. Learning to be violent. Biological factors.

  • Smith, S. L., & Donnerstein, E. (1998). Harmful effects of exposure to media violence… In Geen, R. G., & Donnerstein, E. (Eds.), Human aggression…(pp. 168-202). On reserve in Hillman Library

  • Renfrew, J. W. (1997). Aggression and its causes: A biopsychosocial approach. Chapter 2. On reserve in Hillman Library

  • [HM]: Chapter 1. pp. 15-27. Chapter 2. pp. 48-54.

  • [F]: Chapters 2 and 3.


January 29. Discussion of first paper assignment.
January 31. NO CLASS. Please work on your paper.
February 5 - 12. Reactions to victimization and other stressors.

  • [HM]. Pages 168-173

  • Optional: [F]: Chapter 4.


February 12. First paper due in class.
February 14 – 21. Sexual harassment and workplace aggression. Sexual harassment of children in schools.


  • Handouts available in class.


February 21 – March 4. Child abuse. Other forms of family violence. Effects of adult partner violence on children.

  • [HM]: Chapter 2. pp 34-37, 38-39, 45-47. Chapter 3. Cultural contexts. pp. 55-72. Chapter 4. Child physical abuse. Chapter 10. Elder abuse. Chapter 11. Hidden types of family violence…

  • Optional: [F]: Chapter 8. pp. 172-185.


March 6. First Exam. [Review in class on March 4].
March 11 – 13. No class. Spring Break
March 18 - 25. Domestic partner violence and dating couple violence.

  • [HM]: Chapter 2. pp. 39-45. Chapter 3. pp. 72-81. Chapter 7. Wife abuse. Chapter 8. Husband abuse. Chapter 9. Abuse in gay/lesbian …relationships. Chapter 12. pp. 299-316.

  • Optional: [F]: Chapters 5 and 6.


March 25 – April 8. Rape, martial and date rape, and forced sex.

  • Handouts available in class.

  • Optional: [F]: Chapter 7.


April 10. Second paper due in class.

April 8 - 17. Incest and child sex abuse.

  • [HM]: Chapter 5. Child sexual abuse

  • Optional: [F]: Chapter 8. pp. 186-196.


Final Exam. Scheduled time is Wednesday, April 23. 8-9:30am

…………………………………………..

Requirements for Observation Reports
Grading for the observation reports is based on primarily on accuracy and completeness in discussing course material. All reports should refer to lecture AND textbook material in APA format (including lecture dates and page numbers from the readings). Grades also relate to correctly following the assignment, completeness of the analysis done, and clarity of the presentation. Due February 12 and April 10.
Option 1: Observations at an agency where the student is volunteering.

This will involve your finding an agency where you can volunteer for at least 30 hours during the semester. The work should involve working with victims of relationship violence or with violent offenders or with people affected in some way by violence in relationships. Highly recommended. Doing this can also result in an extra credit presentation to the class.


The first paper is a proposal identifying the agency and the types of work that will be done. For the final report, you should include:

  1. Description of the agency or organization and your duties.

  2. Log outlining hours worked and what was done.

  3. Report on what was observed and how this relates to issues discussed in class or in the required readings. This should include at least one specific observation, described in detail, and related to course lectures and readings.

  4. Report on whether or not the project was meaningful and what might be done to make this type of volunteer project better for future students.


Option 2: Personal Observation Reports: For each paper:

  1. Describe the data that will be used. This can be either an objective description of a personal experience, or a description of interviews done with at least 2 other people about their relevant experiences. For interviews, explain how people were selected and what questions you asked them.

  2. Discussion of how you interpret what you observed or found out through the interviews, as it relates [or does not relate] to course material. Describe the relevant part of lecture and the readings relating to your observation, WITH CITATIONS What are your conclusions about the relevant course material?


First Observation. Motivations or explanations for violent or aggressive behavior. [Use personal observations or interviews with others who have personal knowledge of interpersonal violence in their lives. Make it clear where your data come from.
Second Observation. Anything relevant to the class.

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