ArticleLiterature Review

Is There Such a Thing as a Hate Crime Paradigm? An Integrative Review of Bias-Motivated Violent Victimization and Offending, Its Effects and Underlying Mechanisms

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Abstract

Despite the growing number of bias-motivated violence studies, the evidence available remains limited, and there are several gaps in our understanding of the complex relationship between negative attitudes and biased violence. In addition, the literature on this topic has many facets and nuances and is often contradictory, so it is difficult to obtain a clear overall picture. Research has made good progress in this area, but it still suffers from a lack of systematization and from a highly segmented approach to victimization and offending. To contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the subject, this integrative narrative review provides a critical reappraisal of the theoretical, methodological, and empirical research from a systemic perspective. To this end, 134 academic publications on personality and social psychology, clinical psychology, sociology, criminology, and related disciplines were examined. The evidence suggests that although bias-motivated violence shares characteristics with other types of offensive behavior, it is actually a unique phenomenon due to its background rooted in prejudice, identity, and attitudes in which the intersection of individual, psychosocial, and ecological factors is especially relevant. The impact on the victim and their community is diverse, but it has a series of distinctive severe psychological consequences that significantly reduce the probability that incidents will be reported. Here, we present a series of findings and reflections on bias-motivated violence and provide recommendations for research, practice, and policy.

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Objective: This study aimed to assess for the prevalence of interpersonal discrimination among undocumented Mexican immigrants residing in high-risk neighborhoods near the CaliforniaMexico border, identify relevant vulnerabilities, and determine its association with clinically significant psychological distress after controlling for socio-demographics, immigration characteristics, and history of trauma. Method: Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS) was used in this cross-sectional study to collect and analyze data from clinical interviews with 246 undocumented Mexican immigrants. The Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI-53) was used as the primary outcome measure to assess for clinically significant psychological distress. For all analyses, inferential statistics accounted for design effects and sample weights to produce weighted estimates. Logistic regression was used in the multivariate analyses. Results: 69% of participants reported interpersonal discrimination due to being undocumented with significant differences observed across sex, educational attainment, and income. Among participants with a history of interpersonal discrimination due to their undocumented status, 52% met criteria for clinically significant psychological distress with significant differences observed across age groups, years living in the U.S. and history of trauma. After controlling for relevant covariates, having experienced interpersonal discrimination due to being undocumented was the strongest significant predictor of clinically significant psychological distress, OR = 5.47, 95% CI [2.56, 11.7], p < .001, even beyond history of trauma. Conclusion: Overall, our findings emphasize the need for policies, advocacy, and the development and provision of contextually-sensitive interventions to address the high prevalence of interpersonal discrimination and its negative health effects among undocumented Mexican immigrants.
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This study compared honor killings, domestic violence homicides, and hate homicides committed by far-right extremists. Prior research has suggested that terrorists may differ from “regular” offenders whereas others suggest similarities. Data from the Extremist Crime Database were used to compare honor killings committed in the United States since 1990 to domestic violence and hate homicides (N = 48). Open-source documents were closed coded for criminal justice involvement, domestic violence history, motivation, and offenders’ mental illness. Honor killings were more likely to have a history of domestic violence in open sources than hate homicides, suggesting these three homicides may be more similar than different.
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When the economy declines, existing racial disparities typically expand, suggesting that economic scarcity may promote racial discrimination. To understand this pattern, we examined the effect of perceived scarcity on resource allocations to Black and White American recipients, and tested whether this effect depends on a decision maker's motivation to respond without prejudice. We proposed that scarcity would lead to increased discrimination among those with relatively low internal motivation but not those high in internal motivation. Indeed, we found that when resources were framed as scarce (vs. abundant or a control condition), low-motivation participants allocated less to Black than White recipients, whereas high-motivation participants allocated more to Black than White recipients (Studies 1 and 2). This pattern was strongest when decisions could be made deliberatively (Study 3), and anti-Black allocation bias emerged even in a non-zero-sum context (Studies 4 and 5), suggesting a strategic bias directed against Black recipients rather than in favor of White recipients. These findings indicate that the psychological perception of scarcity can produce racial bias in the distribution of economic resources, depending on the motivations of the decision maker-an effect that may contribute to the increase in racial disparities observed during economic stress. (PsycINFO Database Record
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Recent research demonstrates that intergroup contact effectively reduces prejudice even among prejudice-prone persons. But some assert that evidence regarding the benefits of contact among prejudice-prone individuals is “mixed,” particularly for those higher in social dominance orientation (SDO), one of the field’s most important individual differences. Problematically, person variables are typically considered in isolation despite being intercorrelated, leaving the question of which unique psychological aspects of prejudice proneness (e.g., authoritarianism, antiegalitarianism, cognitive style) are responsive to intergroup contact unresolved. To address this shortcoming, in a large sample of White Americans (N = 465) we simultaneously examined the contact–attitude association at varying levels of ideological (SDO, right-wing authoritarianism), cognitive style (need for closure), and identity-based (group identification) indicators of prejudice proneness. Examining a broad range of intergroup criterion measures (e.g., racism, support for racial profiling) we reveal that greater contact quality is associated with lower levels of intergroup hostility for those both lower and higher on a variety of indicators of prejudice proneness, simultaneously considered.
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We estimate the effect of economic conditions during the Great Recession on racial animus, as measured by Google searches for a commonly used anti-black racial slur and hate crimes against blacks. Our empirical strategy exploits pre-recession cross-state variation in the size of two economic sectors particularly affected by the Great Recession: manufacturing and real estate. We find that states that were dependent on these sectors were hit hardest by the Great Recession, experienced the largest increases in racist internet searches, and experienced the largest increases in hate crimes against blacks.
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Hate is a global phenomenon as evidenced by recent increases in hate crimes in both the United States and the United Kingdom; unfortunately, these crimes are also substantially underreported in both nations. Following this, this research presents an examination of racially motivated hate crimes and victim reporting to the police in both nations using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey and the Crime Survey of England and Wales from 2003 to 2015. Results indicate that, overall, victim reporting has been increasing in the United Kingdom and decreasing in the United States. Disaggregating by victim and offender race, however, reveals divergent trends such that anti-black hate crime victim reporting is increasing in the United States and decreasing in the United Kingdom. Policy and research implications are discussed.
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Hate crime inflicts a variety of harms on victims, communities, as well as society at large. Scholars have long sought to understand the motivations and conditions behind hate crime offending. Green and his colleagues conducted the classic neighborhood studies examining the conditions that foster hate crime. Using data on hate crime in New York City from 1995 to 2010 from the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force, the current study replicates and extends Green and colleagues’ neighborhood studies, investigating whether their findings hold true over an extended period of time in New York City as the city underwent major demographic changes. Using a group conflict framework, the current study extends prior work testing hypotheses derived from defended neighborhoods, social disorganization, and strain theories to explain ethnoracial hate crime.
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Explaining negative attitudes towards immigration in general and threat due to immigration, in particular, has been a major topic of study in recent decades. While intergroup contact has received considerable attention in explaining ethnic threat, group relative deprivation (GRD), that is, feelings that one’s group is unfairly deprived of desirable goods in comparison to relevant out-groups, has been largely ignored in cross-national research. Nevertheless, various smaller-scale studies have demonstrated that GRD can have a decisive impact on prejudice. In the current study, we examine the association between GRD and ethnic threat systematically across 20 European countries, thereby controlling for intergroup contact and value priorities. The 7th round of the European Social Survey (ESS) includes questions assessing respondents’ feelings of group deprivation compared to immigrants and offers for the first time an opportunity to contextualise the threat-inducing effect of GRD across Europe. A multilevel structural equation model (MLSEM) demonstrates a considerable association between GRD and ethnic threat both on the individual and country levels. The results indicate that GRD is not only an important mediating factor between social structural positions and perceived threat, but also fully mediates the relation between contextual economic indicators and ethnic threat.
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The present paper contributes to the literature on the formation of attitudes and public views toward out-group populations by focusing on the relations between actual versus perceived and misperceived size of immigrant population (as indicators of competitive threat) and attitudes toward immigration. The analysis is conducted in the context of 17 European societies. The data for the analysis were obtained from the 2014 European Social Survey (ESS). The main findings lead to the conclusion that misperceptions of the size of immigrant population play a more important role than factual reality in shaping public views and attitudes toward immigration. Although perceived size is not totally detached from actual size, the discrepancy between actual and perceived size is found to be a more powerful predictor of opposition to immigration than actual size. The more inflated is the misperception the more pronounced is opposition to immigration. The impact of misperceptions, when measured as a discrepancy or a ratio, on anti-immigrant attitudes is more pronounced in countries with, proportionally, a large foreign-born population. The meaning of the findings and the relevance of misperceptions and cognitive maps in shaping public views are discussed.
Article
There is ample evidence of the beneficial effects of intergroup contact in reducing negative attitudes towards immigrants. Although the valuable role of institutional support, one of the initial optimal conditions for contact, has been demonstrated, the impact of actual immigration integration policies, as a manifestation of institutional support, remains unknown. In the current study, we examine how country-level migrant integration policies, assessed by the MIPEX indicator, shape the relationship between everyday contact and threat perceptions associated to immigration. Multilevel regression analyses were conducted with European Social Survey Round 7 data from 20 European countries (N = 32,093 citizens). Everyday contact was related to less symbolic and realistic threat perceptions. Moreover, on the country level, tolerant policies (a high MIPEX score) were related to higher everyday contact and lower symbolic threat perceptions. Confirming that institutional support facilitates the effects of contact, a cross-level interaction revealed that the link between everyday contact and symbolic threat was stronger in high rather than low MIPEX countries. The pattern of results was partially replicated when contact quality and cross-group friendships were assessed, though integration policies did not moderate the effects of these intergroup contact measures. These findings extend the body of multilevel contact research and are crucial for application as they show that integration policies have the potential to guide national majority members’ perceptions regarding immigrants.
Article
The current study examines the following questions: (1) the extent to which individual basic human values are linked with attitudes towards immigration; (2) whether symbolic threat by immigration mediates this relation; and (3) whether cultural values moderate the relations between individual values, threat, and attitudes towards immigration. The empirical analysis relies on the 2014/2015 data from the immigration module of the European Social Survey (ESS) for West and East European countries. We find that universalistic individuals expressed lower threat due to immigration and higher support of immigration while conservative individuals displayed the opposite pattern. Symbolic threat mediated the association between values and immigration attitudes, but in most countries the mediation was partial. The associations between values, symbolic threat, and attitudes towards immigration were stronger in countries characterised by higher levels of intellectual and affective autonomy and weaker in countries characterised by higher levels of cultural embeddedness. The findings provide support for the centrality of human values in the formation of threat and attitudes towards immigration.
Article
Hate crimes are notoriously underestimated evident by significant differences reported between the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Between 2004 and 2012, an average of 269,000 victimizations were reported by the NCVS; simultaneously, UCR hate crime statistics reported an average of 8,770 incidents (FBI UCR Hate Crime Statistics, 2004-2012) implicating sizable hate crime underreporting. We present two hypotheses to explain the dark figure of hate crime reporting. First, we hypothesize that bias crime victims, relative to nonbias crime victims, are less likely to report their victimization to police. Second, we hypothesized that misperceptions of police legitimacy by groups with strained relations with police who are also at risk for hate victimization explain declinations to report. Using stepwise logistic regression, controlling in subsequent models with victim, offender, and situational factors previously found to increase nonbias crime victim reporting, we detected an increasingly stronger propensity for bias crime victims to not report their victimization. We also found that victim misperception of police legitimacy evident by the absence of confidence (29.2%) and victim decisions to report to different official (22.3%) largely explain underreporting. Implications for victim perceptions of police legitimacy and their ability to discharge procedural justice are discussed. Improved public relations with communities who sustain a strained relationship with police in conjunction with proactive, clear enforcement policies, and practices are suggested.
Article
Crime is a serious social problem, but its causes are not exclusively social. There is growing consensus that explaining and preventing it requires interdisciplinary research efforts. Indeed, the landscape of contemporary criminology includes a variety of theoretical models that incorporate psychological, biological and sociological factors. These multi-disciplinary approaches, however, have yet to radically advance scientific understandings of crime and shed light on how to manage it. In this paper, using conceptual tools on offer in the philosophy of science in combination with theoretical work represented in this special volume of Psychology, Crime and Law, I provide some perspective on why explanatory progress in criminology has remained elusive and evaluate some positive proposals for attaining it.
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Sociodemographic group-specific strategies for stress management may contribute to racial and gender disparities in health outcomes in the USA. We aimed to systematically review theoretical and empirical investigations of factors influencing variation in response to and management of identity-related stress among black and white Americans. OvidPsychInfo and PubMed databases were searched to identify eligible studies. Criteria were participant age of ≥ 18 years, conducted in the US sampling black or white participants, and published in English in a peer-reviewed journal. The final sample included 167 articles. Theories suggesting social status inequities as the primary contributor to disparate strategies employed by black and white women and men to manage social identity-related stress were most frequently tested and supported. Studies disproportionally focused on how women and black persons cope as targets of prejudice and discrimination rather than on how management strategies of men or white persons are affected as perpetrators. Finally, there was theoretical support for an interactive effect of race and gender on stress management, but empirical evidence was lacking, particularly among black men, white women, and white men. The literature could be strengthened through the use of prospective cohorts and nationally representative samples, as well as study designs accounting for potential within-race and within-gender variation in the effects of social identity-related stressors on coping. With greater consistency in methodology, future empirical studies may yield additional information regarding group differences in stress management pertinent to clarifying mechanisms for the health consequences of exposure to social inequity among black and white women and men.
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Researchers have examined the correlates of inter-group relationships, relying heavily on Blau’s (The American Journal of Sociology, 83, 26–54, 1977) macrostructural opportunity theory. The results of these studies have given mixed support for the relationship between social structure and inter-racial violence. This study builds on existing research on inter-group violence by examining what social structural correlates may influence intra- and inter-group violence using the macrostructural opportunity theory as a guiding framework. Data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System as well as the American Community Survey are utilized to construct a large sample of counties across the United States. The findings provide mixed support for Blau’s hypotheses, with heterogeneity and segregation showing some effects on inter-group violence, while racial inequality remains largely a non-significant predictor.
Article
Although most crime in intraracial, studies suggest that interracial victimization is more injurious. This may be especially true for racially motivated offenses; however, studies of hate crime have not disaggregated which racial dyads are associated with injury, and whether they are more injurious than interracial victimizations generally. Likewise, studies of interracial violence often assume a theoretical framework grounded in racial animosity, but cannot test motivation directly. Using the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), this study compares injuries across intraracial, interracial, and bias-motivated offenses. We find differences across racial dyad and the presence of racial animosity, however, the results are largely driven by the race of the offender. Implications for racial animosity theory, adversary effect, and hate crime literatures are discussed.
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The need for fresh responses to hate crime has become all the more apparent at a time when numbers of incidents have risen to record levels, both within the UK and beyond. Despite progress within the domains of scholarship and policy, these escalating levels of hate crime – and the associated increase in tensions, scapegoating and targeted hostility that accompanies such spikes – casts doubt over the effectiveness of existing measures and their capacity to address the needs of hate crime victims. This article draws from extensive fieldwork conducted with more than 2000 victims of hate crime to illustrate failings in relation to dismantling barriers to reporting, prioritizing meaningful engagement with diverse communities and delivering effective criminal justice interventions. It highlights how these failings can exacerbate the sense of distress felt by victims from a diverse range of backgrounds and communities, and calls for urgent action to plug the ever-widening chasm between state-level narratives and victims’ lived realities.
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This study examines the impact of macrolevel indicators of social environment on officially recorded crime motivated by racial bias and xenophobia across 44 regions in 7 European nations between 2002 and 2011. In doing so, we estimate multilevel Poisson regression growth models where time is nested within subnational units, which avoids direct comparison of biased crime across different nations. We test the utility of various theoretical frameworks that have proven to be of relevance in explaining crime motivated by bias. The results reveal that the role of a hostile social climate is of particular interest, as xenophobic and racially motivated crimes are higher in regions with higher levels of anti-immigrant sentiment and higher levels of ethnic discrimination, in line with the “Doing Difference” approach developed by Perry. Consistent with the Power-Differential Hypothesis and Group Contact Theory, xenophobic and racially motivated crime rates are negatively associated with the percentage of the foreign-born population. Finally, the results reveal that xenophobic and racially motivated crime rates are higher in regions with lower levels of social integration, which is congruent with social disorganization theory. We conclude with a discussion of the effects of social climate on crime motivated by bias.
Article
Exposure to potentially traumatic events is a global health problem, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Assessments for symptoms resulting from trauma exposure rely heavily on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which may not be relevant in all regions of the globe. We examined posttrauma symptoms that were not limited to Western constructs of mental health (i.e., PTSD). In a systematic review, we searched nine databases to identify posttrauma symptoms arising in qualitative literature published before July 17, 2017. A total of 17,938 records were identified and 392 met inclusion criteria. The 392 studies represented data on 400 study populations from 71 different nationalities/ethnicities. The presence and frequency of posttrauma symptoms were examined across all regions. Fisher’s exact tests were also conducted to compare frequencies in posttrauma symptoms across region and gender. Based on a weighted analysis across regions, a list of global posttrauma symptoms (N = 85) was compiled into an item bank. We found that the majority of DSM-5 PTSD symptoms were mentioned across regions (with the exception of inability to recall specific aspects of the trauma and blame of self or others for the event). Across all regions, we also found a number of symptoms mentioned that were not part of PTSD and its associated features. Findings suggest that assessing posttrauma symptoms solely based on PTSD may be limiting to global populations. Research, policy, and practice implications are discussed.
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This meta-analysis summarizes the results of research on the relationships of majority group members' endorsement of assimilation, colorblindness, multiculturalism, and the relative relationships of colorblindness and multiculturalism to ethnic prejudice. Random effects analyses found that assimilation was positively related to explicit prejudice ( g. = 0.80), multiculturalism was negatively related to both explicit ( g. = -0.26) and implicit prejudice ( g. = -0.19), and colorblindness was negatively related to explicit prejudice ( g. = -0.07). Multiculturalism was more closely associated with low prejudice than colorblindness ( g. = 0.15). Effect sizes varied as a function of methodology (experimental vs. correlational), country in which research was conducted (United States vs. other countries), and, in experimental studies of multiculturalism, type of prime used (abstract vs. concrete). Discussion points include methodological issues, groups used as targets of prejudice, national diversity norms, additional issues raised in the studies reviewed, and directions for future research.
Article
The strong positive association between offending and victimization, or the victim–offender overlap, has received considerable amount of research attention in recent years. Empirical research has made important strides in unpacking the sources of the phenomenon, but important questions remain unanswered. Ambiguity surrounds the utility of certain theoretical explanations for the overlap, the nature of the phenomenon, and the methodological tools used to examine its etiology. Owing to these knowledge gaps, the scientific meaning of the victim–offender overlap is unclear. Moreover, a number of potentially important theoretical arguments are rarely subject to empirical testing in this line of research. The purpose of this article is to use a narrative review methodology to provide a critical reappraisal of the theoretical, empirical, and methodological research on the victim–offender overlap and offer directions for ways forward to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon. This review includes critical analysis of 78 academic publications, along with a table that summarizes the key findings and conclusions from 18 critical empirical studies that have contributed to our understanding of the victim–offender overlap. We offer recommendations for the continued development of theoretical and methodological tools to better understand this complex phenomenon.
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Questions related to violence, vulnerability, and sexual and gender minorities continuing to occupy a focal place in U.S. public discourse. We reviewed findings from 20 years of research on that topic to make recommendations for policy, practice, and future research. This article synthesizes findings from 102 peer-reviewed articles as well as a small number of unpublished studies and grey literature. We found no data to support the idea (widespread in popular discourse) that those in the sexual or gender majority require protection from sexual or gender minority individuals. Instead, this wide body of research indicates that sexual and gender minorities are themselves at elevated risk for physical and sexual assault, harassment, bullying, and hate crime victimization throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Contradicting the image of hate crimes as perpetrated by strangers or acquaintances, we find that bias-related verbal abuse, physical, and sexual assault by close family members contribute heavily to observed victimization rates. Further, despite the perception that society is becoming more welcoming, victimization disparities appear to be stable or widening since the 1990s. More studies with probabilistic sampling approaches, standardized measures, and larger samples of gender minorities are needed. However, widespread victimization of sexual and gender minorities is clearly an urgent issue, demanding attention from clinicians, program developers, and policy makers.
Article
Whereas research on generalized prejudice is dominated by variable-centered approaches, which focus on communalities between different types of prejudice, we propose a complementary person-centered approach, looking for subgroups of people characterized by similar patterns of prejudice. To this end, we compare the results of a variable-centered (using confirmatory factor analysis [CFA]) and a person-centered (using latent class analysis [LCA]) approach to generalized prejudice. While CFA points to a multidimensional solution with a strong overlap between prejudice dimensions, LCA distinguishes five prejudice patterns that cannot be organized along a linear continuum of more versus less prejudiced dispositions. Explanatory models for the two solutions are estimated. Results show that the two methods are largely complementary in conceptualizing generalized prejudice.