Blame attribution as a moderator of perceptions of sexual orientation-based hate crimes.

University of Alabama, Box 870348, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA.
Journal of Interpersonal Violence (Impact Factor: 1.64). 08/2009; 25(5):848-62. DOI: 10.1177/0886260509336962
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Blame attribution is a valuable mechanism explaining decision making. However, present literature mainly employs blame attribution as a dependent variable. The shortcoming of this fact is that blame attribution offers a potentially valuable explanatory mechanism for decision making. The authors designed two studies to investigate blame attribution as a moderator of sentencing decisions in sexual orientation-based hate crimes. Study 1 showed that mock jurors punished perpetrators of hate crimes more severely than a control condition. Also, degree of victim blame influenced punitive decision making. In Study 2, mock jurors extended findings that perpetrators of hate crimes are more harshly punished than those of other types of crimes. Victim and perpetrator blame failed to moderate decision making in this more complex scenario. Results are discussed in relation to hate crimes definitions and attribution theory.

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    ABSTRACT: We examined blame attribution as a moderator of perceptions of hate crimes against gay, African American, and transgender victims. Participants were 510 Texas jury panel members. Results of vignette-based crime scenarios showed that victim blame displayed significant negative, and perpetrator blame significant positive, effects on sentencing recommendations. Also as hypothesized, victim and perpetrator blame moderated the effect of support for hate crime legislation. Interaction patterns suggested that both types of blame attribution influence sentencing recommendations, but only for participants disagreeing with hate crime legislation. Three-way interactions with victim type also emerged, indicating that the effects of both types of blame attribution show particular influences when the victim is gay, as opposed to transgender or African American. Implications for attribution theory, hate crime policy, and jury selection are discussed.
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