Julia Schnepf

The labelling of femicides and guilt reversal in the media coverage of misogynist crimes: Does framing make a difference?

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In public, femicides are often given labels which trivialize the crime and excuse the perpetrator, such as «domestic drama», «crime of passion» or even «love killing». In Study 1 (N = 343), it was experimentally tested whether framing a typical femicide either as «domestic drama» or «murder» affects people’s reactions to and evaluations of the crime. Results of the study indicate no immediate main effects on the dependent variables, but moderation analyses revealed that participants with hostile sexist attitudes towards women reported fewer victim blaming when they were presented with the «murder» frame compared to the «domestic drama» frame. In Study 2 (N = 199), the additional effect of adding reverse guilt information on possible crime causes was studied. This time, participants reported higher victim blaming and more empathy with the male perpetrator when the text ended with a sentence claiming that the female victim has cheated on her partner compared to saying that the male perpetrator has a criminal and violent past. The findings indicate that the use of adequate crime labels and avoiding guilt reversal in media representations of femicides can help to improve peoples’ evaluations of misogynist violence.


  • framing
  • femicide
  • hostile sexism
  • domestic violence
  • violence against women


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