Gaslighting and its application to interpersonal violence

Dickson, Prashansa, Ireland, Jane Louise orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5117-5930 and Birch, Philip (2023) Gaslighting and its application to interpersonal violence. Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice . ISSN 2056-3841

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The study examines the nature of gaslighting and how it relates to interpersonal aggression. It does so first through application of a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) to understand how gaslighting is understood academically. This RAE captured 50 articles, with 12 retained for thematic review. Results were then used to develop a Gaslighting Behaviour Measure, which was then applied in an online study of adults (n = 386; 77.2% women). Five themes were identified from the REA; Components of gaslighting; Gaslighting as a tool for abuse; Perpetrators as damaged manipulators; Experiences and characteristics of victims; and Institutional and racial gaslighting. In the ensuing study, results demonstrated that emotional abuse was broadly related both to the perpetration and experiencing of gaslighting, indicating that it may represent an extension of emotional abuse. The relationship to trait aggression was limited and primarily isolated to victims presenting with higher levels of trait aggression capturing more emotional components (e.g. anger/hostility). The importance of context in understanding the relationship between gaslighting, emotional abuse and aggression was indicated, with some complexity found. Suggestions for future research are made.

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