alexa Paradoxical punishment as it relates to the battered woman syndrome.
Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences


Author(s): Long GM, McNamara JR

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Abstract The main goal of this article is to suggest some processes by which the behavioral interactions of an abusive couple can be developed and maintained. A summary of these processes as they have been adapted from the animal analog and human research follows. First, the pairing of abuse (punishment) with love and affection (reinforcement) could indicate that the battered woman responds to the reinforcement that follows an abusive incident. Second, the battered woman may seek to escape the fear of the tension-building phase but during the escape behavior she is punished (physical abuse), which fortifies and strengthens her initial fear. However, after the abusive incident, there is an absence of tension and fear (negative reinforcement) compounded by the positive reinforcement of the contrition phase. Thus, a cyclical pattern of behavior evolves and sustains itself. Possibly augmenting the vicious cycle is habituation or negative adaptation to the physical abuse, as well as the lack of opportunities to learn adaptive behavioral responses that may break the cycle of violence. Finally, the need for primary reinforcement (i.e., love and affection) may be so powerful that it somewhat mitigates the abuse endured to obtain it.
This article was published in Behav Modif and referenced in Anthropology

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