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“She had it coming” : The effect of Denial of the Victim arguments within simulated suspect interviews on blaming victims in a control and coercion context

Wüller, C.A.E (2021) “She had it coming” : The effect of Denial of the Victim arguments within simulated suspect interviews on blaming victims in a control and coercion context.

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Abstract:Taking action against the offenders of Coercion and Control cases is often difficult, because of missing physical evidence. Investigative interviews are often the only opportunity to gather any evidence against the suspect. Suspects are highly manipulative and make use of influencing behaviours to protect themselves from getting convicted. This study focussed on the effectiveness of denial of the victim in shifting attributions of blame to the victim. Denial of the victim is an influencing behaviour, suspects use during investigative interviews to shift attributions of blame away from themselves onto the victim. They make negative claims about for example the behaviour of the victim. Therefore, different victim behaviours were also included to check whether negative victim behaviour solely had an effect. The participants of this study had to fill out a questionnaire after reading a case description and an investigative interview about a C&C case. These were used as manipulations. There were three different versions of the case description, representing the different victim behaviours. Also, two different versions of the investigative interview were randomly presented to the participants, representing the suspect behaviour. The main findings were that denial of the victim arguments increased negative attributions to the victim and reduced perceived sympathy, but not the perceived empathy, with the victim. When the victim had engaged in negative behaviour prior to the offence, attributions of blame to the victim increased, while perceived sympathy with the victim decreased independent of suspect behaviour. Exploratory results showed that higher hostile sexism leads to lower perceived empathy with the victim, but only when denial of the victim is used. Interviewers need to be aware of these effects during investigative interviews with suspects, to mitigate the observed effects. In a next step, it also needs to be tested, whether the changes in attribution affect legal judgements.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/88213
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