Double standards in sentence structure: Passive voice in narratives describing domestic violence

Alexandra K. Frazer, Michelle D. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Previous research has shown that passive voice predominates in mass media reports describing male violence against women. However, there has been little systematic study of narratives describing female violence against men. The authors analyzed the impact of perpetrator gender on verb voice, first in a content analysis of published news stories and second in a new procedure for eliciting written narratives with male or female perpetrators. Results reveal an increased frequency of passive voice when perpetrators are male. These findings suggest that writers specifically prefer the passive voice to describe male-on-female violence rather than for violent or negative acts in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-71
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009



  • Domestic violence
  • Gender differences
  • Interpersonal violence
  • Language production
  • Mass media
  • Verb voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language

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