Setting the Stage for Social Change: Using Live Theater to Dispel Myths about Intimate Partner Violence

Academic Article


  • Research has demonstrated the ability of fictional narratives to educate about social and health issues. Although some entertainment-education efforts have used live theater as a mechanism for social change, very few use social science methods to demonstrate exposure effects. This project used live theater to increase understanding and knowledge about intimate partner violence, a pervasive and costly social and health problem. Audiences watched either a play about abusive relationships - emphasizing psychological abuse and the role of coercion and control - or a control play. Compared with controls, those who watched the abuse play were more knowledgeable and less accepting of myths about abusive relationships in a way that mirrored play content. Although both plays were highly transporting, transportation did not explain a significant amount of variance in the attitudes toward intimate partner violence. These results provide rare evidence for theater as a tool for social change.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 22960617
  • Author List

  • Dill-Shackleford KE; Green MC; Scharrer E; Wetterer C; Shackleford LE
  • Start Page

  • 969
  • End Page

  • 976
  • Volume

  • 20
  • Issue

  • 8