Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Malkin, Albert


Dating violence impacts health across diverse cultural contexts; college campuses witness a heightened recurrence of such incidents. The prevalence of violence within relationships endures, manifesting in contemporary platforms like social media and dating apps. This study examined the role of perspective taking in shaping attitudes toward violence, and its influence on both perpetration and victimization. Undergraduate students (N=449) engaged in a behavioural perspective taking task and questionnaires encompassing demographics and the Attitudes Toward Dating Violence Scale. Regression analyses revealed that weaker perspective taking ability in both perpetrators and victims is associated with more accepting attitudes of dating violence. The knowledge derived from this study holds significant implications for enhancing education, prevention, and intervention initiatives, emphasizing the need to strengthen perspective taking skills and foster empathic understanding.

Summary for Lay Audience

Dating violence encompasses physical (e.g., slapping, shoving, choking, kicking), sexual (e.g., sexual assault, harassment, coercion), and/or psychological (e.g., mocking, belittling, yelling, stalking) harm inflicted or threatened by a current or former romantic or sexual partner. Despite the substantial risks posed to physical, sexual, and mental health, the prevalence of violence continues to rise. Dating violence is particularly rampant in environments common among younger populations, such as college campuses, accompanied by risk factors like substance use, hookup culture, and Greek system involvement. The surge in social media use has further expanded methods of violence perpetration, necessitating a critical examination of where prevention and intervention measures may be falling short.

To address this, it is crucial to consider the root of dating violence. The Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) emerges as a potential explanation for the pervasive dating violence observed today. The TRA forecasts individual behavior by assessing pre-existing attitudes and intentions, underscoring the importance of understanding individuals' attitudes toward dating violence. Furthermore, understanding why some individuals hold more accepting attitudes toward dating violence brings the concept of perspective taking into play. Perspective taking involves perceiving a situation or grasping a concept from a different perspective, such as that of another person. The absence of perspective taking raises questions about whether perpetrators can empathize with victims, ultimately influencing their attitudes.

To better comprehend the relationship between perspective taking, attitudes, and rates of dating violence, undergraduate students across North America participated in a survey including a behavioral measure of perspective taking and self-report questionnaires on their dating violence attitudes and involvement. Preliminary results suggest a significant association between the identified variables. Participants who identified as victims and/or perpetrators of dating violence exhibited significantly lower levels of perspective-taking ability and significantly higher levels of attitudes toward dating violence. These findings are interpreted within the context of a society that normalizes dating violence and could contribute to the development of more effective education, intervention, and prevention measures with the aim of reducing acceptance of violent attitudes and promoting the use of perspective-taking skills.

Available for download on Saturday, March 07, 2026