University of Twente Student Theses


The role of social projection in direct and indirect estimations of cybercrime among young adults

Wieschebrock, A.P. (2017) The role of social projection in direct and indirect estimations of cybercrime among young adults.

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Abstract:Indirect estimations are used to examine the prevalence rates of criminal behavior by asking people how many percent of their group members they think have committed any form of cybercrime or digitized crime in the past. It is assumed that these estimations reduce the occurrence of social desirability. In the current study, a higher (compared to a lower) identification with the ingroup is expected to lead to a greater use of social projection in these indirect estimations, as people base the prevalence rates more on their own criminal behavior and experiences. Because of this process, indirect estimations would provide a clearer picture of actual prevalence rates. In turn, greater projection should predict higher indirect estimations. Therefore, the use of social projection was hypothesized to mediate the positive association between identification and indirect estimations that was found in previous research. A between-groups design was employed with an experimental manipulation of group identification (high versus low). Participants were recruited among members of a sports group or among the first-year computer science students at the University of Twente and answered both indirect as well as direct estimations about different cybercrime offenses such as hacking and committing identity theft. In addition, the use of social projection in the indirect estimations was assessed. The mediation hypothesis could not be supported because no association was found between the group identification manipulation and indirect estimations. Additionally, no consistent link between social projection and the indirect estimations was found either. A possible explanation of the unexpected findings could be that the characteristics of the groups that are used in indirect estimations play a significant role. Hypothetically, the more the identity content of the group is clearly defined, the less social projection would be used by participants, meaning that the proposed model could possibly still be applied while using larger, unclearly defined groups. Finally, it is possible that social desirability also plays a role in indirect estimations, when using small groups as in the current study. Consequently, it is important to further examine the conditions under which social desirability, social projection, and identification play a role in indirect estimations to determine the validity of this form of questioning in finding actual prevalence rates of cybercrime and digitized crime.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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