Presentation Title

The Hard Facts: The Influence of Crime and Education on Public Perceptions of Criminals

Start Date

April 2020

End Date

April 2020

Major Field of Study

Psychology

Student Type

Undergraduate

Faculty Mentor(s)

Veronica Fruiht, PhD

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

In 2015, nearly one-third of the working age population in the United States had a criminal record (Friedman, 2015). The societal view that criminals are bad has been instilled into US culture; however, behind the ‘criminal’ label is a human being and the perceptions that are held about criminals can influence their lives in a negative way. Through the examination of education as a means of intervention on stigma, prior research suggests that education significantly improves knowledge and positive attitudes towards stigmatized groups (Lam et al., 2019). The goal of the current study is to examine the influences of an educational intervention and crime severity on an individual's perception of criminals. The study included a sample of 50 participants recruited from a private institution in Northern California, as well as social media platforms. Participants were randomly assigned to watch an educational video or not, and were randomly assigned one of two vignettes varying in crime severity. Adapted versions of the Attitudes Towards Prisoners Scale (Melvin, Gramling & Gardner, 1985) and the Social and Task Measurement of Interpersonal Attraction Scales (McCroskey & McCain, 1974) were used to measure participants’ perceptions of the criminal. Results are expected to find that violent criminals are viewed as less socially attractive than nonviolent criminals, that those who watched the educational video view criminals as more socially attractive than those who did not view the video. Finally we expect an interaction between two variables such that the impact of the educational video will be stronger for violent than non-violent criminals. This demonstrates that through the use of education, negative perceptions towards criminals can be changed for the better.

Comments

This presentation was accepted for the Scholarly and Creative Works Conference at Dominican University of California. The Conference was canceled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic

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The Hard Facts: The Influence of Crime and Education on Public Perceptions of Criminals

In 2015, nearly one-third of the working age population in the United States had a criminal record (Friedman, 2015). The societal view that criminals are bad has been instilled into US culture; however, behind the ‘criminal’ label is a human being and the perceptions that are held about criminals can influence their lives in a negative way. Through the examination of education as a means of intervention on stigma, prior research suggests that education significantly improves knowledge and positive attitudes towards stigmatized groups (Lam et al., 2019). The goal of the current study is to examine the influences of an educational intervention and crime severity on an individual's perception of criminals. The study included a sample of 50 participants recruited from a private institution in Northern California, as well as social media platforms. Participants were randomly assigned to watch an educational video or not, and were randomly assigned one of two vignettes varying in crime severity. Adapted versions of the Attitudes Towards Prisoners Scale (Melvin, Gramling & Gardner, 1985) and the Social and Task Measurement of Interpersonal Attraction Scales (McCroskey & McCain, 1974) were used to measure participants’ perceptions of the criminal. Results are expected to find that violent criminals are viewed as less socially attractive than nonviolent criminals, that those who watched the educational video view criminals as more socially attractive than those who did not view the video. Finally we expect an interaction between two variables such that the impact of the educational video will be stronger for violent than non-violent criminals. This demonstrates that through the use of education, negative perceptions towards criminals can be changed for the better.