Observer reactions to emotional victims of serious crimes: Stereotypes and expectancy violations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Negative observer reactions towards victims may be related to people’s expectations of the characteristics and demeanor of an ideal victim. We examined how expressed emotion, victim sex, and type of victimization influence observers’ perceptions of victim credibility, victim character, and harm. Our hypothesis was that angry victims, male victims, and victims of sexual violence are perceived less positively than sad victims, female victims, and victims of physical violence. Additionally, we anticipated that expectancy violations following expressed agentic/high status, or passive/low-status emotions of the victim would lead to negative reactions. Participants (N = 335) read a written victim impact statement, by a male or female victim of a sexual or physical assault, in which anger or sadness was expressed. The results show that observers generally respond more negatively to male victims than to female victims, and to victims expressing anger rather than sadness. However, a two-way interaction between expressed emotion and type of crime revealed that expressed emotion only significantly influences character derogation and victim credibility in cases of physical violence. Finally, emotion expectancy violations based on ex-ante expectations lead to derogation and diminished credibility. The discussion focuses on how emotion expectancy violations seem intimately tied to stereotype-ridden features of victimization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalPsychology Crime & Law
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2018

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Expressed Emotion
Crime Victims
stereotype
offense
emotion
credibility
anger
victimization
violence

Keywords

  • Victimization
  • observer reactions
  • emotion
  • expectancy violation
  • gender stereotypes

Cite this

@article{733d3ad805364c1789a0f2c55163cee0,
title = "Observer reactions to emotional victims of serious crimes: Stereotypes and expectancy violations",
abstract = "Negative observer reactions towards victims may be related to people’s expectations of the characteristics and demeanor of an ideal victim. We examined how expressed emotion, victim sex, and type of victimization influence observers’ perceptions of victim credibility, victim character, and harm. Our hypothesis was that angry victims, male victims, and victims of sexual violence are perceived less positively than sad victims, female victims, and victims of physical violence. Additionally, we anticipated that expectancy violations following expressed agentic/high status, or passive/low-status emotions of the victim would lead to negative reactions. Participants (N = 335) read a written victim impact statement, by a male or female victim of a sexual or physical assault, in which anger or sadness was expressed. The results show that observers generally respond more negatively to male victims than to female victims, and to victims expressing anger rather than sadness. However, a two-way interaction between expressed emotion and type of crime revealed that expressed emotion only significantly influences character derogation and victim credibility in cases of physical violence. Finally, emotion expectancy violations based on ex-ante expectations lead to derogation and diminished credibility. The discussion focuses on how emotion expectancy violations seem intimately tied to stereotype-ridden features of victimization.",
keywords = "Victimization, observer reactions, emotion, expectancy violation, gender stereotypes",
author = "Alice Bosma and Eva Mulder and Antony Pemberton and Ad Vingerhoets",
year = "2018",
doi = "10.1080/1068316X.2018.1467910",
language = "English",
pages = "1--21",
journal = "Psychology Crime & Law",
issn = "1068-316X",
publisher = "Routledge",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Observer reactions to emotional victims of serious crimes

T2 - Stereotypes and expectancy violations

AU - Bosma, Alice

AU - Mulder, Eva

AU - Pemberton, Antony

AU - Vingerhoets, Ad

PY - 2018

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N2 - Negative observer reactions towards victims may be related to people’s expectations of the characteristics and demeanor of an ideal victim. We examined how expressed emotion, victim sex, and type of victimization influence observers’ perceptions of victim credibility, victim character, and harm. Our hypothesis was that angry victims, male victims, and victims of sexual violence are perceived less positively than sad victims, female victims, and victims of physical violence. Additionally, we anticipated that expectancy violations following expressed agentic/high status, or passive/low-status emotions of the victim would lead to negative reactions. Participants (N = 335) read a written victim impact statement, by a male or female victim of a sexual or physical assault, in which anger or sadness was expressed. The results show that observers generally respond more negatively to male victims than to female victims, and to victims expressing anger rather than sadness. However, a two-way interaction between expressed emotion and type of crime revealed that expressed emotion only significantly influences character derogation and victim credibility in cases of physical violence. Finally, emotion expectancy violations based on ex-ante expectations lead to derogation and diminished credibility. The discussion focuses on how emotion expectancy violations seem intimately tied to stereotype-ridden features of victimization.

AB - Negative observer reactions towards victims may be related to people’s expectations of the characteristics and demeanor of an ideal victim. We examined how expressed emotion, victim sex, and type of victimization influence observers’ perceptions of victim credibility, victim character, and harm. Our hypothesis was that angry victims, male victims, and victims of sexual violence are perceived less positively than sad victims, female victims, and victims of physical violence. Additionally, we anticipated that expectancy violations following expressed agentic/high status, or passive/low-status emotions of the victim would lead to negative reactions. Participants (N = 335) read a written victim impact statement, by a male or female victim of a sexual or physical assault, in which anger or sadness was expressed. The results show that observers generally respond more negatively to male victims than to female victims, and to victims expressing anger rather than sadness. However, a two-way interaction between expressed emotion and type of crime revealed that expressed emotion only significantly influences character derogation and victim credibility in cases of physical violence. Finally, emotion expectancy violations based on ex-ante expectations lead to derogation and diminished credibility. The discussion focuses on how emotion expectancy violations seem intimately tied to stereotype-ridden features of victimization.

KW - Victimization

KW - observer reactions

KW - emotion

KW - expectancy violation

KW - gender stereotypes

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