In psychological research, as with any discipline, it is more important to understand the limitations of any study or data rather than to seek perfect data which can be used without provisos or considerations. My research to explore issues relating to male victims of domestic abuse was no exception. What follows is a reflection on the study, the limitations, addressing these limitations in further research and research gaps in this area in general.
The greatest limitation to my research, as it is to many in my situation, was the time and resources available to complete the study as this impacted the size of the respondent population as well as the profile. Because the survey used was online and targeted college students, there are limitations to its applicability as a sample. The results will be indicative of the profile of the respondent population, which differs from the total population of interest. Further, there are limitations because the sample size was not large enough to have strong confidence in its applicability. In short, this study serves as an initial exploration which can provide insight with regard to further study.
Because my study was based upon self-reported data, one limitation is the subjective bias of respondents. Whereas observational data provides quantitative information which can be compared, people have thoughts, feelings and insecurities which may prevent their full insight into their own behaviors (Kuan et al., 2014). That said, despite the limitation the study has provided insight into the attitudes and beliefs of male victims of domestic violence, which is not a quantifiable area of information and is better explored, but with this limitations in mind.
Another limitation, one which may also have impacts compounded with the first regarding the problem of self-reported data, is that of gender bias in society in general. While the intent of this study was to review aspects of the gender bias inherent in the situation of male victims of domestic violence, the general level of gender bias can inhibit or confound results. One example may be the hesitation that men feel with regard to revealing traits that are not aligned with positive perceptions of masculinity (Houle et al., 2015).
Addressing the limitations of the study could be accomplished through further research which sought to quantify and compare situations of male victims of domestic violence, understand qualitatively the experience of male victims of domestic violence and to understand profiles of male victims of domestic violence. Two further studies which would complement the existing study and further insights would be in depth case studies which recruited targeted individuals who are or have been male victims of domestic violence as well as observational studies which statistically compared the demographic information of male victims of domestic violence in order to find general patterns or indicators that have correlation.
There continue to be gaps in terms of what has been reported in the literature with regard to male victims of domestic violence. The issue of domestic violence has typically focused on the experiences of females, and often the issue of male victims has been overlooked in the existing knowledge base of studies and research. The profiles of male victims of violence, the dynamics of abuse and assessment of similarities and differences to that of female victims of domestic violence remains an area of opportunity for researchers.
All studies have limitations, and mine had limitations based on the population which responded, problems of subjectivity in self-reported data and confounding factors due to gender bias in society. Further research and studies can address both the knowledge which remains unknown, including limitations to my study and research gaps in the literature.
- Houle, J., Meunier, S., Tremblay, G., Gaboury, I., Francine de Montigny, P. H. D., Cloutier, L., … & MSERVSOC, F. O. B. (2015). Masculinity Ideology Among Male Workers and Its Relationship to Self-Reported Health Behaviors. International Journal of Men’s Health, 14(2), 163.
- Kuan, K. K., Zhong, Y., & Chau, P. Y. (2014). Informational and normative social influence in group-buying: Evidence from self-reported and EEG data. Journal of Management Information Systems, 30(4), 151-178.