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Describe what Psychologists have found out about crime-victim interaction.

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Introduction

a) Describe what Psychologists have found out about crime-victim interaction. (10) One surprising fact that psychologists have found is that, in general, those members or groups of society that are statistically more vulnerable to be a victim of crime are those who fear it the least, and vice versa. For instance, Hollin (1992) carried out research on fear of crime, in which young men pertained to having the least fear of becoming a victim of personal assault, while the responses of elderly women showed them to be the most fearful. This is a mismatch Empey's (1982) findings, which shows young males, who tend to feel 'invincible' to be the most frequent victims of personal assault, and elderly and apparently 'vulnerable' women to be the least! Empey also concluded that, in general, males, the young and black are statistically more vulnerable than females, the elderly and whites to become a victim of crime. From these observations, we can see that the fear and reality of crime are two separate issues, often connected to social stereotypes of who is most at risk. Psychologists have also found that the media provides the public with a misrepresented view of crimes levels and circumstance than compared to the statistical data provided by official crime statistics. An example is the BCS (British Crime Survey), the government's annual survey into adult's experience of victimisation in the previous year. ...read more.

Middle

These socialisations also apply to the young and elderly, and explain why crime surveys show young men to have a lesser crime related fears, while being statistically more likely to become a victim of crime. These observations are based on social psychology, and can be compared to Zimbardos theory of social roles in society, which he tested in his prison simulation. In this experiment, he found that his participants would conform to the role in which they were assigned (prisoner or guard), and exhibited the characteristics of their role. For example, the guards assumed their authority with relish, and begun to humiliate and persecute the prisoners as portrayed in the media. Similarly, the prisoners were completely subservient to the guards, and some assumed their roles so well that they forgot it was an experiment. Of course, Zimbardos study raised several ethical questions as to the harm he caused his participants. This issue is in contrast to the methods used for crime psychology, which generally use unobtrusive methods such as the questionnaire. Since crime surveys use a large number of participants, the most widely used tool for them is questionnaires, since they can be administered to many people and be standardised to maintain validity. However, questionnaires have several drawbacks, since survey methods are quantitive, which doesn't allow for contextualisation of responses, in other words why a person has a particular fear or worry, it just registers that they do. ...read more.

Conclusion

To combat this lack of trust, it would be beneficial to the police to abandon their traditional uniforms. This might seem drastic, but as Tajfel has proven, when we see clear noticeable differences between two groups of people, we tend to discriminate against them. Since the police are clearly distinguishable by their uniforms and equipment (panda cars etc), then they are, in effect, a separate group from average citizens who report crimes. Perhaps if the police were not viewed as 'them' then people would feel more comfortable in reporting their crimes to them. An increased police presence would also help improve the reputation of the police and therefore the amount of trust that the public have in them. Concerning the police not being able to help if people they report a crime, the police would probably overcome this if they solved more crimes! I would start a police support unit, this would help to capitalise on the research done by Feldman, Summers and Ashworth. They said that victims of violent crime are more likely to report crime if they have support from the police when they enquire about making a report. Also, I think that you would have to start to do something to improve the reputation of the police all together, this would mean a major shake up in the policing system. A2 Psychology WES Oliver Quaye 13.3 Crime 1 October 2002 ...read more.

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