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The effects of cognitive busyness and question wording: Responses to an intimate partner abuse vignette

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(Thesis) M.A.
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This study examined the effects of question wording and cognitive busyness on participant decisions to leave or stay in a hypothetical abusive relationship. Participants asked whether they would leave were expected to make decisions closer to 'definitely leave' than participants asked whether they would stay, with the effect being more pronounced for cognitively busy participants. Participants read an abuse vignette and then half were instructed to memorize numbers to manipulate busyness. All participants imagined they were in the victim's position, tried to recall reasons from the vignette that were relevant to the decision, and indicated their decisions on a scale from 'definitely stay' to 'definitely leave'. As predicted, male decisions were closer to 'definitely leave' when asked whether they would leave than when asked whether they would stay. The opposite pattern, however, was found for female participants, with decisions being closest to 'definitely leave' when asked whether they would stay.
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