Standard Article


  1. Julie C. Weitlauf

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0840

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Weitlauf, J. C. 2010. Self-Protection. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1.

Author Information

  1. Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University School of Medicine

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Broadly speaking, self-protection refers to all actions undertaken in the hopes of preventing potentially harmful personal consequences (physical, emotional, financial, or otherwise) that may result from the aggressive acts of others. Within the United States, acts of self-protection are colloquially referred to as “self-defense” and often discussed in the context of women's response to male-female violence. Given the prevalence of violence against women and the historical (though erroneous) attribution that the prevention of such violence is the responsibility of the female victim, it is not surprising that great interest in self-defense exists. However, as this topic is highly complex and spans many disciplines (i.e., psychology, criminal justice, law), all discussion must first be placed in context. The empirical literature delineating the psychological benefits of self-defense training as a form of rape prevention for women is the focus here. Implications regarding the use of weapons in the name of self-defense and the potential legal consequences of all acts of self-defense are not included in this discussion.


  • assertiveness;
  • physical self-efficacy;
  • rape prevention;
  • self-defense;
  • self-protection