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The Influence of Perpetrator and Victim Race and Gender on the Perception of Crime

23 July 2018


Recent reports show Black individuals are at a disproportionately high risk for being involved in a hate crime than are White individuals. With hate crime statistics remaining relatively constant over the past 10 years, this study aimed to replicate a primary study that concluded men and women viewed hate crimes differently, and assigned different levels of punishment based on the race of the perpetrator. The present study was an exploration of these previous findings with the addition of perpetrator gender as a consideration. A convenience sample of 143 individuals (Men = 63, Women = 79, Other = 1) were presented with a series of vignettes wherein the race and gender of both the perpetrator and victim varied. Participants then provided their determination of the recommended sentence for the perpetrator, how justifiable the crime was, how much blame could be attributed to the target individual, how often crimes like this occur, how much this crime fit the definition of hate crime, whether hate crimes should be punished more severely than crimes not motivated by hate, the recommended sentence if the race of the target were different from the race of the perpetrator, and whether it is fair to punish perpetrators for their feelings about the targets of their crimes. Results indicated that men and women respondents differed in their racial attitudes, which matches original research population conditions with men having a tendency for more racist ideology. Participants significantly differed on their vignette item responses when the perpetrator in the vignettes was White compared to Black, and when the perpetrator was a male compared to a female. Lastly it was determined the most important variables to predict participants’ scores on the vignette items would appeared to be race and gender of the perpetrator, whereas there were no significant victim variables that acted as predictors of participant vignette item scores. Further research should be conducted to assess for moderating variables that influence responses from participants due to contradictions in the RAS and GRBS control measures compared to results collected from participants’ vignette scores.


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