The Role of Emotions in Judgments of Crime Victims
A growing body of evidence shows that crime victims’ emotional expressions can influence legal judgments, such as credibility assessments. However, the role of emotions in judgments of crime victims in interpersonal settings outside the legal arena has not been explored, and a range of potentially moderating factors have been overlooked. Recent social functionalist models of emotion would predict that different emotional expressions, in interaction with expresser and context characteristics, affect observers’ judgments of a victim. In three studies, totaling 5 experiments and 1099 participants, these issues were addressed. Study I focused on people’s expectations about likely emotional responses to criminal victimization. In an experimental online questionnaire, respondents expected female (vs. male) victims to experience more situation-focused (e.g., fear) and inward-focused (e.g., sadness) emotions, and less other-focused (e.g., anger) emotions. Study II investigated observers’ inferences about victim vulnerability as a function of type of expressed emotion (anger vs. sadness; Experiment 1 and 2), victim gender (Experiment 1), and presentation mode (text vs. audio vs. video; Experiment 2). Results showed that, across all presentation modes, victims expressing sadness (vs. anger) were perceived as less resilient and in greater need of social support. However, the effect was observed only for male victims. Importantly, the effects was mediated by perceived victim warmth. The effect of emotion type and the mediation of warmth was supported in both experiments. Study III examined the role of observers’ imagined own emotional responses to a crime when judging victims’ credibility. Female participants perceived female victims of rape (Experiment 1) as more credible when victims’ displayed emotions matched the participants’ own imagined emotional reactions. The influence of this emotional overlap was replicated when male participants judged the credibility of a male robbery victim (Experiment 2). Furthermore, higher perceived intensity of victims’ emotional responses was associated with higher perceived credibility in both experiments. Taken together, the results of the current studies indicate that people have specific expectations about, and make social inferences from, crime victims’ emotional responses. These inferences appear to be moderated by victim gender, type and intensity of emotions expressed, and observers’ own self-simulated emotional responses to crimes. In short, this thesis suggests that emotions play an influential role in judgments of crime victims.
Parts of work
I. Wrede, O., & Ask, K. (2015). More than a feeling: Gender-specific stereotypes about victims’ emotional responses to crime. Violence and Victims, 30, 902-915. ::doi::10.1891/0886-6708.VV-D-14-00002II. Wrede, O., Ask, K., & Strömwall, L. A. (2015). Sad and exposed, angry and resilient? Effects of crime victims’ emotional expressions on perceived need for support. Social Psychology, 46(1), 55–64. ::doi::10.1027/1864-9335/a000221Wrede, O., Ask, K., Strömwall, L. A., & Styvén, C. (2015). “I believe you, I would feel the same way”: Emotional overlap and perceptions of victims’ credibility. Manuscript in preparation.
Doctor of Philosophy
Göteborgs universitet. Samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten
University of Gothenburg. Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Psychology ; Psykologiska institutionen
Fredagen den 20 november 2015, kl 10.00, Sal F1, Psykologiska institutionen, Haraldsgatan 1
Date of defence