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The Maudsley Violence Questionnaire:

initial validation and reliability

Julian S. Walker
DClinPsy, Forensic Clinical Psychologist, Fromeside Clinic, Blackberry Hill, Stapleton, Bristol BS16 1ED, UK
Received 8 May 2003; received in revised form 12 February 2004; accepted 10 April 2004
Available online 2 June 2004
This paper describes the construction of the Maudsley Violence Questionnaire (MVQ) and the investigation
of the factor structure and reliability. The MVQmeasures a range of cognitions, relating to violent behaviour,
drawn from clinical and theoretical perspectives, but with justication of violence in response to threatened
self esteemand the legitimising of violence as central elements. 785 students (male and female) between 16 and
19 years of age, from a range of backgrounds were assessed using the MVQ and a Self Report Delinquency
Scale (adapted from Mak, 1993). A principal axis factoring analysis was conducted and two factors were
rotated using direct oblimin procedure. Although the separate factor analyses for men and women generated
the same factors, the respective factor loadings diered slightly. The male factor structure was used given that
men are responsible for the majority of violence and are likely to comprise the majority of respondents for the
MVQin forensic clinical practice. The scale comprised two factors: machismo (42 items) and acceptance of
violence (14 items); the Cronbach alpha coecients ranged from0.74 to 0.91; and, t-tests revealed a signicant
dierence between men and women on both the factor total scores. In accordance with predictions, self-re-
ported violence in men was predicted by both machismo and acceptance (most strongly by machismo);
however, for women self-reported violence was predicted more strongly by acceptance than machismo.
2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Violence; Questionnaire; Machismo; Cognitions; Beliefs; Delinquency
1. Introduction
Research into beliefs and thinking specically associated with violent oending is limited in
comparison to similar research into sex oending (see Abel, Gore, Holland, & Camp, 1989;
Tel.: +44-117-9025527; fax: +44-117-9585477.
E-mail address: (J.S. Walker).
0191-8869/$ - see front matter 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Personality and Individual Dierences 38 (2005) 187201
Blumenthal, Gudjonsson, & Burns, 1999; Hayashino, Wurtele, & Klebe, 1995; McGrath, Cann, &
Konopasky, 1998; Vanhouche & Vertommen, 1999; Ward, Hudson, Johnston, & Marshall, 1997).
The majority of research into violence and aggression has focussed on risk factors (Bjrkly, 1997;
Monahan, 1984; Monahan & Steadman, 1994) and anger (Novaco, 1975, 1994; Novaco & Welsh,
1989). Although Novacos work has considered triggering thoughts for anger, anger itself is
neither necessary nor sucient for violence and therefore is only one of the mediating psycho-
logical variables for aggression.
Slaby and Guerra (1988) showed the signicant predictive validity of beliefs supporting the use
of aggression in 1518 year old. Their 18 item belief measure included ve subscales: the legiti-
macy of aggression; aggression increases self esteem; aggression helps avoid a negative self image;
victims deserve aggression; and, victims dont suer. The victim related subscales were least
predictive of violence and the most predictive subscales were avoiding a negative self image,
increasing self esteem and legitimising aggression. The items were not factor analysed, but had
been generated in line with social learning theory.
Other studies have considered oending by assessing criminogenic or criminal factors, e.g. the
Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking styles (Walters, 1995, 1996) and the Psychopathy
ChecklistRevised (Cornell et al., 1996; Hare, 1991; Hare et al., 1990). There may be a number of
problems with these approaches. First, uncertain conceptual basis, e.g. the PICTS did not factor
analyse into the clinical scales used in the measure (Walters, 1995) and psychopathy has never
been recognised as a diagnosis by either of the classication systems, ICD-10 (1992) or DSM-IV
(1994). Second, both the PICTS and the PCL-R are generic measures of oending rather than
specic to violence. Third, the complexity of violence (Monahan & Steadman, 1994)in a violent
act there are likely to be multiple causal and exacerbating factors, ameliorating or protective
factors, individual dierences, and the inuences of other factors such as the environment and
victim behaviour and characteristics. This problem has lead McGuire and Priestly (1995) to
suggest that the whole focus of risk assessment needs to shift towards understanding what makes
this particular person commit this particular violent act at this particular time. Such an individ-
ualised approach requires the assessment of a variety of individual factors, psychological mech-
anisms and thoughts.
Numerous measures exist for anger, hostility, paranoia, impulsivity and empathy. A search of
the literature (by the author for this paper) revealed over 40 in current use and previous reviews
cite a similar or greater number (Gothelf, Apter, & Van Praag, 1997; Miller, Smith, Turner,
Guijarro, & Hallet, 1996) which may all relate to violent and aggressive behaviour, but these tend
to be personality measures, risk assessments or behavioural measures. Those that purport to
measure thoughts do not comprehensively measure the specic thoughts, beliefs and attitudes
which may principally relate to violence.
For the purpose of this study a questionnaire was developed to measure these thoughts, with
the potential for use with various groups of individuals. The intention was to evaluate individuals
thoughts and beliefs about violence, violent acts and beliefs about what is acceptable, justiable
and reasonable in various situations. The Maudsley Violence Questionnaire (MVQ) was designed
with reference to violence literature and to clinical experience with violent oenders, but with a
view to evaluating the statistical performance of the measure, through factor analysis, on a
normal population. The author has run a Violence Clinic for 6 years which has resulted in the
treatment of a number of violent individuals, some of whom have completed the MVQ. The MVQ
188 J.S. Walker / Personality and Individual Dierences 38 (2005) 187201
was also given to other professionals and several lay people to give their reections and to make
improvements. The feedback was generally positive from all groups and minor changes were made
before it was used in the current research. Furthermore, the MVQ was also reviewed by Dr. L.
Firestone (author of the FAVT, Firestone Assessment of Violent Thoughts; Doucette-Gates,
Firestone, & Firestone, 1999) who has used the MVQ in a similar (unpublished) study in Cali-
fornia, USA.
The FAVT is the only other violence specic measure which has undergone adequate factor
analysis and assesses thoughts and feelings from the perspective of an internal voicean
integrated system of negative thoughts and attitudes, antithetical to self and cynical and hostile
thoughts toward others (Doucette-Gates et al., 1999, p. 116) e.g. youre stupid, youre a failure.
The FAVT factor analysed into four robust factors: social mistrust; perceived disrespect/disre-
gard; negative critical thoughts; and, expression of overt anger. There are other attitude scales
which have been developed for use with children, but one is specic to gun violence (AGVQ,
Shapiro, Dorman, Burkey, Welker, & Clough, 1997); and the Attitudes towards violence scale is
brief (15 items on two factors) and has not been compared to self-reported violence (Funk, Elliott,
Urman, Flores, & Mock, 1999). From the perspective of a generic cognitive model (e.g. Beck &
Freeman, 1990), the FAVT appears to assess automatic thoughts (e.g. they dont give a damn
about you; youll show them whos the boss) while the MVQ looks at rules or dysfunctional
assumptions (e.g. it is ok to hit someone if they make you look stupid; if you are not willing to
ght it means you are weak and pathetic), core beliefs (e.g. I see myself as a violent person,
violence is second nature to me) and related cognitions. Given the lack of therapeutically driven
research into scales assessing violent thoughts, the development of the MVQ was seen as justied
from a research perspective and necessary from a clinical perspective. Furthermore, compared to
measures such as the PCL-R and the PICTS which can only be used on oender populations, the
MVQ was designed for use with individuals violent or otherwise, regardless of previous convic-
It is clear from past research and work by Novaco and others that there are patterns of dys-
functional thinking which may be associated with anger, aggression and violence (reviewed by
Novaco & Welsh, 1989). Furthermore, in sex oending literature, many scales exist which mea-
sure cognitions, beliefs and distortions that have been found to be important in sex oending (e.g.
Abel et al., 1989; Burt, 1980; Bumby, 1996), but few comparable measures exist for violence.
From theoretical perspectives whether a cognitive model (e.g. Beck & Freeman, 1990), Novacos
specic model of anger (1994), social learning theory (see Slaby & Guerra, 1988) or from attitude
behaviour research (Kraus, 1995) it is likely that certain cognitions predispose towards violence,
and that certain cognitions are reinforced by violent and aggressive behaviour, thus maintaining
the cycle of violent behaviour, as in other types of oending.
The items in the MVQ were designed to assess attitudes and beliefs which predispose towards
or legitimise violence and to reect the existing underlying theories of violent/aggressive behaviour
from a cognitive perspective. Items were developed in particular which related to the masking of
low self esteem with aggression, or the promotion of violence in response to threatened self esteem
(see Salmivalli, 2001). Items were generated by applying a cognitive behavioural formulation to
violence (Walker & Bright, in preparation) and it appeared that many dysfunctional assumptions
(rules), attitudes and beliefs were extensions of normal beliefs which justify an aggressive response
to a variety of perceived provocations. The central theme of perceived provocation concerned
J.S. Walker / Personality and Individual Dierences 38 (2005) 187201 189
seeing violence as a justiable and perhaps the only response to embarrassment or threatened self
esteem (Gilligan, 1996). That is not to say that violence was used to promote self esteem in an
instrumental way, but that it is used when seen as necessary and justied by the aggressor. Gil-
ligans (1996) formulation for violence suggested that several factors in combination are necessary
for violence. These factors include low self esteem and anger, but also the crucial trigger of
humiliation as perceived by the aggressor, and in addition the lack of adequate alternative re-
sponses to save face. These key concepts of respect and physical bravery in humiliating situations
were the central themes underlying the development of the items for the MVQ. The items were
generated in the form of rules (or dysfunctional assumptions) for various potentially humiliating
situations, or beliefs which may support or legitimise violence. Furthermore, the frequency of
violence in society lead to the development of a questionnaire based on normal thinking processes
to explore whether a more extreme thinking pattern could be found that related to increased
violence. To the authors knowledge, this is the rst time such a measure of this specic set of
violent thoughts has been adequately developed with reference to thinking structures within the
cognitive model (which has become a treatment model of choice for aggression and violence, both
in the community with various populations, and in prison; Beck & Fernandez, 1998; Robinson &
Porporino, 2001); appropriately factor analysed with a large sample; and, compared against a
normal distribution of violent behaviour.
In the present study, the MVQ was validated initially with a normal adolescent population for
several reasons. First, the beliefs used, although partly generated from an oending perspective,
represent extensions of normal beliefs. Second, it remains dicult to acquire a large enough
sample of reliably responding oenders for an initial analysis of such a questionnaire. Third,
adolescents are old enough to have developed a belief system which is important in predicting
behaviour (Kraus, 1995). Fourth, there is considerable evidence of the continuity of antisocial
behaviour through adolescence into adulthood (Farrington & West, 1993), and in particular
aggressive behaviour (Eley, Lichtenstein, & Mott, 2003). The developmental understanding of
violence has also been emphasised by other authors (e.g. Fonagy, 2003; Gilligan, 1996; Slaby &
Guerra, 1988).
This paper presents the results of an exploratory factor analysis of the MVQ completed by 785
school students (age 1618) attending schools in London. Concurrent validity with self report
delinquency is also presented. It was predicted that those showing more evidence of violence
related cognitions would show elevated rates of self reported violent behaviour.
2. Method
2.1. Participants
The participants were 785 students from nine schools within the London area. Schools ap-
proached were from a range of London Education Authorities, a range of academic achievement
levels and dierent areas of London. The majority of schools were mixed comprehensive; however,
single sex, voluntary aided and foundation schools were also represented. Schools were chosen to
reect the broad socio-economic and educational background of school students aged 1618 in the
London area. Of the potential sample of 1828 (total students in both sixth form years from all nine
190 J.S. Walker / Personality and Individual Dierences 38 (2005) 187201
schools) 785 represented 42%. It was not possible to determine whether the missing students had
left school prior to the research, refused to attend or truanted on the day the research took place.
The nal sample included 480 (61%) male and 305 (39%) female participants. Their ages ranged
from 16.0 to 19.8 years (mean 17.2 years, standard deviation 0.678). There was no signicant
dierence between the ages of the male and female students (t 1:366, p 0:172). 380 students
(48.4%) were of White Caucasian background, (compared to 70.7% for the general adult popu-
lation of London). 87 students (11.1%) were of BlackAfrican/Caribbean/other background. 179
students (22.9%) were of AsianIndian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi background. The remainder were
40 (5.1%) mixed race and 99 (12.6%) othermainly Western/European. When the ethnicity for
males alone was considered, the percentages were close to the gures for London.
Regarding academic attainment, 646 (82.3%) participants achieved ve or more passes, A to C
grades, at GCSE level. The average percentage with ve A to C passes of the schools sampled was
50.5%. The comparable gure for London is 45.5% and nationally is 50.0% (DFES: Department
for Education and Skills, 2002).
2.2. Measures
2.2.1. The Maudsley Violence Questionnaire (MVQ)
Prior to the functional analysis, the draft MVQ comprised 97 items covering a range of beliefs
and rules that may provide support, justications or injunctions to violence. The key theme in the
design of the questionnaire was the use of violence in response to embarrassment and for the
protection of self esteem (Gilligan, 1996; Salmivalli, 2001). This theme was specically targeted by
the researcher because of support in the literature suggesting that other authors have considered
that beliefs which legitimise violence and belief in the use of violence to enhance self esteem are
important predictors of violent behaviour (Funk et al., 1999; Doucette-Gates et al., 1999; Shapiro
et al., 1997; Slaby & Guerra, 1988). 97 items were generated through consultation with colleagues
and through listing common beliefs reported by violent oenders in therapy. It was expected that
approximately half of these would be lost following the factor analysis leaving a more feasible and
robust clinical measure. Each item is rated true/false.
The measure was reviewed prior to the study by a number of professionals, lay people and
patients/oenders to rene the readability of the questionnaire and to remove any ambiguous or
confusing items. The draft and nal (post factor analysis) versions of the MVQ are available from
the author on request.
2.2.2. Self Report Delinquency scaleUK
The Self Report Delinquency Scale was originally designed for use in Australia (Mak, 1993)
and comprised 34 items. It was subsequently revalidated for use in Western Australia (Carroll,
Durkin, Houghton, & Hattie, 1996) where two items were removed and six added. The measure
included a four item lie scale, and the latest unpublished version (52 items) also contained a 10
item risk taking behaviour scale. Although other delinquency scales exist, this was chosen because
of its comprehensiveness, appropriateness to adolescents and because the format is self report
For the purpose of this study, the questionnaire was revised for use in the UK (specically in
Londonthe target population) using exactly the same method as used by the original authors,
J.S. Walker / Personality and Individual Dierences 38 (2005) 187201 191
who (recognising that criminal trends may vary across area and time) revised the questionnaire
before using it on a new population. The original 34 items plus the six added in the second version
(covering theft, vehicle oences, drug oences, assault, vandalism, public disorder etc.) were listed
and the lie scale removed. In a letter to a range of professionals involved in forensic work with
adolescents (six forensic clinical psychologists, four forensic clinical psychologists working with
children, seven magistrates, four police ocers, 10 school teachers and four probation ocers
from youth oending teams), they were asked to conrm which of the behaviours they regarded as
delinquent and to add any they thought were missing. From the original measures, four lie scale
items were removed, only two risk taking items were retained and seven items were added from a
list of additional behaviours suggested by several respondents that were regarded as common or
important delinquent behaviours. The nal list included those delinquent behaviours endorsed by
a majority of respondents, along with the additional items, to give a 45 item questionnaire
appropriate to adolescents in the UK. The questionnaire uses a four point response format for the
frequency of each delinquent behaviour over the preceding 12 months (never, once, several times,
once per month). For analysis purposes three scores were used, the total delinquency score from
all 45 items on the questionnaire, the total score for the nine violence items and the total score for
the remaining 36 non-violent (or other) items.
2.3. Procedure
Having designed the MVQ and revised the Self Report Delinquency Scale for use in the UK,
10 schools were contacted which tted within the various criteria for the studyi.e. that they
covered a range of areas of London, that they included a range of ethnic backgrounds and
academic abilities and that they were willing to be involved in the study. All 10 schools ap-
proached agreed to take part, and nine were able to oer visits within the timescale of the
studyone had no spare timetable space that year. All schools were visited on two occasions
separated by one week. On the rst visit, a lecture was given to the sixth form students on
psychology and information sheets were distributed to all students present along with letters to
take home to discuss with their parents/guardians. The importance of condentiality and ano-
nymity were emphasised, as was the importance of individuals views and the importance of the
research itself.
Students were asked to return the following week to take part in the study. The issue of in-
formed consent was considered carefully; as individuals over the age of 16 years are able to give or
withdraw their own consent to participate in research there was no need to gain parents or
guardians consent. However, it was deemed appropriate and polite to send a letter home to
parents and guardians to suggest they discussed the research with their son or daughter and
contact the researcher if they had any objections or questions. None of the parents or guardians
contacted the researcher. On the second visit, the students were asked to provide demographic and
educational attainment information and to complete the MVQ and Self Report Delinquency
Scale. Although the students were supervised by school teaching sta and the researcher, students
were asked to refer all questions to the researcher in case the information discussed compromised
condentiality with teaching sta. All questionnaires were handed to the researcher on comple-
tion; in most cases the majority of students completed the questionnaires prior to the end of the
192 J.S. Walker / Personality and Individual Dierences 38 (2005) 187201
All data was coded and analysis was completed using SPSS Version 10. A factor analysis of
the MVQ was completed for male and female participants separately; the results were then
compared and correlated with a view to having a single questionnaire for males and females, but
with dierent norms. Concurrent validity was assessed by comparing the results of the MVQ
with self report data on violence and other delinquent behaviour from the Self Report Delin-
quency Scale.
3. Results
The rst analysis was to assess the adequacy of the sample for factor analysis. The Kaiser
MeyerOlkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy was 0.849 which is above the recommended cut
o of 0.6 (Kaiser, 1974); Field (2000) suggests that KMOs above 0.8 are very good; and
Bartletts test of Sphericity was signicant (p < 0:001), so factor analysis was seen as appro-
priate for this data set. Kass and Tinsley (1979) recommended a minimum of ve participants
per variable (97 variables in this study) up to a maximum of 300 participants (see also Ta-
bachnick & Fidell, 1996), which meant that either the sample as a whole (n 785), the male
respondents only (n 480) or the female respondents only (n 305) could be used for factor
analysis. Comrey and Lee (1992) suggested that 300 participants was a good sample size for
factor analysis, 100 is poor and 1000 is excellent. The correlation matrix suggested a desirable
balance of correlating variables, with very few correlating highly. The recommended factor
loading cut o for a sample of 300 is 0.298 (Stevens, 1992), so 0.3 was chosen for the analyses in
this study.
3.1. Factor analysis of the MVQ
The factor analysis (principal axis factoring) revealed seven factors with Eigen values greater
than 2 and 26 factors with Eigen values greater than 1. (Following a preliminary factor analysis
and statistical advice, it was decided that the seven lie scale items would be removed as those
items with high enough loadings did not constitute a sucient number for a reliable or feasible
lie scale). According to a Scree test (Klein, 1994) only two factors were retained for rotation
using direct oblimin procedure. These two factors were not only meaningful and conceptually
interpretable, but revealed similar items when male and female data were analysed separately.
Male and female items, although similar, showed slightly dierent loadings for individual items.
It was decided that the male factor structure be used for three reasons: men account for the
majority of violent oending within institutions and the community; most individuals com-
pleting the measure in clinical and criminal justice settings are likely to be male; and, the
majority of respondents in the present study were male, giving the largest subsample. The
congruence between the factor loadings for male and female participants was moderate
(r 0:462, p < 0:001).
The 56 items making up two factors, which accounted for 19.6% of the variance (for male
participants only) are shown in Table 1. Factor 1 (42 items) accounted for 15.1% of the variance
and factor 2 for 4.4%. Only items loading above 0.3 were used to form the factors. All items that
loaded greater than 0.3 on both factors were removed, as was one item from factor 2 that loaded
J.S. Walker / Personality and Individual Dierences 38 (2005) 187201 193
Table 1
Factor loadings for MVQ
Factor 1 Machismo Factor
Factor 2 Acceptance of violence 1 2
1. Being violent shows you are a man 0.643 )0.089
2. It is OK to hit someone if they make you look stupid 0.617 0.029
3. If you are not willing to ght it means you are weak and pathetic 0.610 )0.040
4. If I felt threatened by someone, I would stop them by attacking
them rst
0.591 )0.072
5. Being violent shows you are strong 0.579 )0.060
6. Fighting can help to sort out most disagreements 0.575 )0.059
7. It is OK to hit someone who upsets you 0.573 0.139
8. Sometimes you have to be violent to show that you are a man 0.568 0.052
9. Physical violence is a necessary sign of strength and power 0.559 )0.085
10. Real men are not afraid of ghting 0.549 )0.085
11. If someone attacked me verbally, I would attack them physically 0.535 )0.013
12. I expect real men to be violent 0.525 )0.073
13. Being violent shows that you can assert yourself 0.516 0.045
14. If I dont show that Im tough and strong, people will think Im
weak and pathetic
0.508 0.070
15. People who irritate you deserve to be hit 0.496 0.024
16. Most people wont learn unless you physically hurt them 0.494 0.060
17. I would rather lose a ght and get beaten up than embarrass myself
by walking away
0.481 0.117
18. It is shameful to walk away from a ght 0.467 0.075
19. If I am provoked, I cant help but hit the person who provoked me 0.464 0.088
20. When I cant think of what to say, its easier to react with my sts 0.459 )0.036
21. It is OK to hit someone who threatens to make you look stupid 0.455 0.095
22. If trouble starts, I wouldnt think about itI would just get stuck in
and ght
0.450 0.202
23. It is OK to be violent if someone threatens to damage your property 0.447 0.147
24. If I were in a potentially violent situation, I would automatically
confront the person threatening me
0.442 0.150
25. You wont survive if you run away from ghts and arguments 0.431 0.099
26. You can never face people again if you show you are frightened 0.424 )0.050
27 When you are pushed to your limit, there is nothing you can do
except ght.
0.420 0.105
28. Men who are gentle get walked on 0.418 0.027
29. I believe that if someone annoys you, you have a right to get them
back, by whatever means necessary
0.412 0.086
30. If you dont stick up for yourself physically you will get trodden on 0.400 0.212
31. I see myself as a violent person 0.399 0.040
32. Violence is second nature to me 0.398 )0.069
33. I just seem to attract violence 0.386 )0.017
34. Fear is a sign of weakness 0.381 0.034
35. I enjoy ghting 0.375 0.070
36. It is normal for men to want to ght 0.369 0.096
37. If I get angry, hitting out makes me feel better 0.368 0.132
38. It is OK to hit your partner if they behave unacceptably 0.350 )0.135
39. It is OK (or normal) to hit women if you need to teach them a
0.349 )0.107
194 J.S. Walker / Personality and Individual Dierences 38 (2005) 187201
0.291 on factor 1 and 0.334 on factor 2. Other than this all the factor loadings clearly favoured
one factor rather than the other.
These 56 items were reanalysed using the same factor analytic procedure, which conrmed the
factor structure, with all the items showing highly similar factor loadings. All the results presented
here are from the initial factor analysis. However, the loadings for the reanalysis are available
from the author on request. The 56 items that were retained (shown in Table 1) comprise the
MVQ (available from the author on request) which consisted of the following two factors:
1. Machismo: 42 items had salient loadings on this factor. They included items related to embar-
rassment over backing down, justication of violence in response to threat and attack, violence
as part of being male and strong and the weakness associated with fear and non-violence.
2. Acceptance of violence: 14 items had salient loadings on this factor. They included overt
enjoyment and acceptance of violence (in the media and in sport) and injunctions against or
rejection of violence as an acceptable behaviour.
3.2. Mean and standard deviation scores
Table 2 shows means and standard deviations for men and women on the two factors. Sig-
nicant dierences were found between men and women on both factors with men scoring sig-
nicantly higher on both factors. In particular the dierence between male and female scores on
acceptance was most marked.
Table 1 (continued)
Factor 1 Machismo Factor
Factor 2 Acceptance of violence 1 2
40. Sometimes you have to use violence to get what you want 0.326 0.172
41. Some people only understand when you show them through
physical strength
0.319 0.208
42. I tend to just react physically without thinking 0.318 0.039
43. I am totally against violence )0.037 0.497
44. I hate violence )0.069 0.493
45. It is OK (or normal) to hit someone if they hit you rst 0.184 0.475
46. I wouldnt feel bad about hitting someone if they really deserved it 0.172 0.465
47. Because anyone can suer hurt and pain, you should not hit other
0.095 0.442
48. I enjoy watching violence on TV or in lms )0.001 0.427
49. I enjoy watching violent sports (e.g. boxing) 0.123 0.410
50. If someone cuts you up in trac, its OK to swear at them 0.043 0.407
51. It is OK to have violence on TV )0.089 0.395
52. It is OK to hit someone who threatens your family 0.260 0.380
53. When I have hurt people, I feel bad or even hate myself for it
0.090 0.363
54. It is OK to hit someone who threatens your partner 0.250 0.356
55. Fighting can make you feel alive and red up 0.150 0.353
56. It is OK to have violence in lms at the cinema )0.113 0.337
J.S. Walker / Personality and Individual Dierences 38 (2005) 187201 195
3.3. Correlation between the MVQ factors
The two factors were signicantly correlated, and for men and women the correlations were
similar; r 0:438 (p < 0:001, n 382) for men and r 0:554 (p < 0:001, n 222) for women.
3.4. Reliability of the MVQ
To investigate the MVQs internal consistency-reliability, Cronbach alpha was computed for
the two factors, separately for men and women. Table 3 shows the reliability of the two MVQ
factors. The factors internal-consistency reliability ranged from 0.728 to 0.914, the highest being
for men on the machismo factor. The average inter-item correlations ranged from 0.129 to 0.212.
3.5. MVQ scores and self-reported delinquency
Table 4 shows the correlations between factor scores and self-reported delinquency for male
and female participants. The prediction that those with higher rates of self-reported violence
Table 4
Correlations of MVQ factors with self-reported violence and delinquency
Self-reported delinquency F1. Machismo (valid N) F2. Acceptance (valid N)
Violence (9 items, maximum score 36) Male 0.496

(388) 0.351

Female 0.263

(230) 0.403

Othernon-violent delinquency
(36 items, maximum score 144)
Male 0.331

(381) 0.368

Female )0.001
(226) 0.248

Totalviolence and other
(45 items, maximum score 180)
Male 0.391

(381) 0.390

Female 0.055
(226) 0.308


p < 0:001.
Table 3
Internal-consistency reliability of the MVQ factors
MVQ factor Number of
(valid N)
(valid N)
Average inter-item
correlations males
Average inter-item
correlations females
F1. Machismo 42 0.914 (399) 0.861 (243) 0.212 0.129
F2. Acceptance 14 0.755 (424) 0.728 (246) 0.184 0.160
Table 2
Means and standard deviations of MVQ factors scores and t-tests of dierences between males and females
Factor Males (SD) (valid N) Female (SD) (valid N) t-value
F1. Machismo 9.23 (7.62) (400) 5.37 (5.19) (243) )6.98
F2. Acceptance 10.33 (2.85) (424) 6.39 (3.08) (246) )16.73

p < 0:001.
196 J.S. Walker / Personality and Individual Dierences 38 (2005) 187201
would show more violence related cognitions was supported by the data. Both men and women
showed strong signicantly positive correlations between self-reported violence (nine violence
items from the Self Report Delinquency Scale UK) and scores on both factors, machismo and
acceptance. For men, machismo was the strongest predictor of violence, and also for men, ma-
chismo and acceptance predicted non-violent delinquency. However, for women, violence was
most strongly predicted by acceptance, and although acceptance also predicted non-violent
delinquency in women, machismo did not.
4. Discussion
This study demonstrated that attitudes, beliefs and rules that theoretically relate to violence and
aggression can be measured, and correlate with self-reported violent behaviour. The factor
analysis of the MVQ showed that these beliefs are associated with violence for both men and
women and comprise two robust and reliable factors: machismo and acceptance of violence.
The Attitudes Towards Violence Scale (Funk et al., 1999) also factor analysed into two factors,
culture of violence which shows some similarity to acceptance of violence, and reactive violence
which has some commonality with machismo. However, the Attitudes Towards Violence Scale
was brief (15 items), measured specic attitudes seen to be important for children, and was not
validated against violent behaviour even in self report. The rst two factors (of four) on the
Attitudes towards Guns and Violence Questionnaire (Shapiro et al., 1997) were aggressive re-
sponse to shame and comfort with aggression, which are also similar to machismo and
acceptance respectively. The AGVQ, did correlate with self-reported gun possession and violence,
but the measure was specically designed to assess gun related attitudes and attitudes towards
gun violence; it was designed for use with children rather than as a clinical tool for adults.
This study used a large sample with good representation of the diversity of socio-economic and
ethnic/cultural backgrounds of young people between the age of 16 and 19 in the London area.
Such a large sample made the use of factor analysis appropriate and gave meaningful factors, with
good alpha reliabilities, which correlated well with self-reported violence.
The two factors that emerged were interesting at a theoretical and clinical level. The rst
machismo seems to relate to the stereotypical expectations of men, to do with toughness and
manliness. The attitudes reected suggest that violence and aggression are not only expected of
men, but are desirable in that they are associated with strength and assertiveness; the implication
being that if you are violent, you are strong and thus more of a man than those who back down or
do not ght. This is entirely consistent with the theoretical basis of the questionnaire (Gilligan,
1996; Salmivalli, 2001; Walker & Bright, in preparation); with the authors clinical experience; and
clinicians working in prisons and secure hospital facilities will be aware of the importance of
machismo, particularly in all male environments. What is so interesting in this study, is that such
views are prevalent in both men and women (more so in men) from mid to late adolescence, in
society in general. Furthermore, as predicted, the prevalence of these attitudes and beliefs is also
associated with a salient behavioural outcome, namely violent and aggressive behaviour. This
nding is consistent with other violence research (Doucette-Gates et al., 1999; Shapiro et al., 1997;
Slaby & Guerra, 1988) and general psychological literature (Kraus, 1995) which supports the
correlation between attitudes and behaviour.
J.S. Walker / Personality and Individual Dierences 38 (2005) 187201 197
The questionnaire was primarily based on males, who comprise almost the entire population of
referrals for violence, aggression and anger management (Siddle, Jones, & Awenat, 2003), com-
prise the majority of the prison population, a signicant proportion of whom are incarcerated for
violence oences. This study was in line with societal trends in that male students reported a
signicantly higher score for violent behaviour (2.92, n 452) on the Self Report Delinquency
Scale compared to women (1.49, n 279, t 8:675, p < 0:001). This is similar to ndings of
gender dierences for anger in prison inmates (Suter, Byrne, Byrne, Howells, & Day, 2002).
The clinical importance of this study is that while certain easily measurable factors predict
violencebeing male, having a history of violence (Martinez, 1997). Being male does not narrow
the eld in terms of prediction, nor is it a factor amenable to change. Violent history is another
static risk factor, but some men who have been violent in the past are able to give up violence and
some do not, the history does not help the assessor determine who is who. The risk of violence
may be related to personality factors such as tendency to anger or impulsivity, but these tend to be
more stable and physiologically determined leaving them perhaps less amenable to change. The
present author believed there to be an important omission in violence researcha measure which
could pick up the important beliefs that may support or be injunctions against violencei.e.
cognitive risk and protective factors. The rst factormachismoappears to be just such a
collection of risk factors, including attitudes, beliefs and rules which support, justify or show an
expectation of violence, particularly in men; while the acceptance of violence seems to refer to a
number of attitudes and beliefs which suggest either an acceptance or an outright rejection of
violence in society, both in individual behaviour, and in the media.
From the literature it was clear that existing measures were either too specic (AGVQ), too
brief to include the full range of important cognitions in violence (ATVS), assessed certain aspects
of cognitions in violence (FAVT), or were designed for use with children rather than with adults in
clinical and custodial settings. In fact, the closest comparable measure to the MVQ in terms of
theoretical background, development and subject matter is the FAVT. The subscales of the FAVT
(social mistrust; perceived disrespect/disregard; negative critical thoughts; and, expression of overt
anger) appear to be complimentary to rather than overlapping with the MVQ, and from a cog-
nitive perspective represent triggers or automatic thoughts for aggression and violence. A measure
was required that covered the additional important cognitions (in particular dysfunctional
assumptions or rules), which predicted violent behaviour and was consistent with existing research
ndings in the related eld of attitudes towards violence. The MVQ is the result of this endeavour,
but the performance of the measure in clinical and forensic settings remains to be evaluated.
The MVQ does not measure personality, however the factors may be relatively stable because
they are likely to be reinforced by peers, media and confrontational situations (being laughed at
for backing down, or the belief that it is harder to walk away from a ght). The collection of
items seemed to reect a cognitive style (rather than a cognitive distortion), that had important
behavioural correlates. The cognitive style most likely to put people (especially men) at risk of
violence is a tendency towards machismo in combination with an acceptance of violence. As with
gender dierences found in related research into anger (Suter et al., 2002), this cognitive style is
expressed dierently and to diering extents by men and women, and is a dimensional concept
that is continuous with normal thinking. Given that machismo and acceptance are cognitive
styles, having some independence but also correlated, that may combine to elevate risk, it is
helpful that they are measured separately on the MVQ. Moreover, being cognitive styles rather
198 J.S. Walker / Personality and Individual Dierences 38 (2005) 187201
than personality dimensions means that they may be amenable to change, either through matu-
ration or through direct intervention. It would be interesting to assess whether the convicted
violent oender who does not repeat their violence shows a drop in acceptance and machismo
which could also be reinforced through incarceration. It may be that cognitive therapy approaches
to violence could work at the cognitive style level and reduce risk through challenging machismo
and acceptance of violence. A change in cognitive style on the MVQ should be measurable, but
the performance of the MVQ in clinical settings is an area for future research.
One of the limitations of this study in terms of validating the MVQ was that no test-retest
reliability analysis could be completed within the timescale. Such information, together with
information about change following interventions aimed at challenging violent cognitive styles
would be a signicant contribution to the literature. Such projects, which would necessarily be
conducted with clinical and oender samples, comprise the future work of the author and others.
Future work will also include the comparison of the MVQ factors with other personality
variables and comparable measures. It is predicted that, although the MVQ does not measure
personality, the cognitive styles assessed by the measure are likely to be relatively stable and
therefore relate to personality traits. In particular, an association would be predicted between
MVQ factors and antisocial personality characteristics and oending related traits.
Prof. Gisli Gudjonsson for supervision, support and encouragement, Dr. Paul Barrett for
patient and comprehensive statistical help, Dr. Lisa Firestone for enthusiasm about the MVQ and
reviewing the project; the South London and Maudsely NHS Trust for allowing me time to
undertake this research; and, the schools, teachers and pupils who took part in the research.
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