Nigeria had the largest change, with 65 percent of men and 52 percent of women rejecting domestic violence in 2008, compared with 48 percent and 33 percent, respectively, in 2003.
In the study, researcher Rachael Pierotti analyzes data on hundreds of thousands of people collected in Demographic and Health Surveys funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Half of the countries surveyed are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Pierotti, a graduate student in sociology, said that in many countries like Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, men were even more likely to reject violence than women were.
In general, Pierotti found that people were most likely to say that violence was justified if a wife neglected the children and least likely to consider it justifiable if a wife burned the food.
In two countries - Madagascar and Indonesia - attitudes among both men and women changed in the wrong direction. During the period studied, the percentage of men and women rejecting domestic violence decreased in those countries.
Pierotti found that attitudes about the use of domestic violence changed significantly among all age groups.
She found that those who lived in urban areas, and who had more education, were more likely to reject wife beating than those who lived in rural areas and who had relatively less education. She also found that in many of the countries, those with access to newspapers, radio, and television were more likely to reject wife beating.