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NCJ Number: 51550 Find in a Library
Title: OBSERVERS' REACTIONS TO AN INNOCENT VICTIM - EFFECT OF CHARACTEROLOGICAL INFORMATION AND DEGREE OF SUFFERING
Author(s): J S FRIDMAN; W AUSTIN
Corporate Author: University of Virginia
United States of America
Date Published: 1976
Page Count: 6
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22901
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Sale Source: University of Virginia
Dept of Psychology
Charlottesville, VA 22901
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS STUDY ASSESSES THE INFLUENCE OF CHARACTEROLOGICAL INFORMATION AND DEGREE OF SUFFERING ON OBSERVERS' REACTIONS TO SUFFERING OF INNOCENT VICTIMS. DEROGATION OF VICTIM IS NOT AN AUTOMATIC RESPONSE.
Abstract: AT THE TIME OF THIS STUDY, RESEARCH EXAMINING OBSERVERS' REACTIONS TO THE SUFFERING OF OTHERS WAS BASED ON THE 'JUST WORLD HYPOTHESIS' WHICH STATES THAT WHEN AN INDIVIDUAL WITNESSES A PERSON'S APPARENT UNDESERVED SUFFERING, THE OBSERVER'S BELIEF IN A JUST WORLD IS THREATENED. THE MAIN PURPOSE OF THIS STUDY WAS TO EXAMINE THE EFFECTS OF THE OBSERVERS' CONCEPTS OF THE KIND OF PERSON THE VICTIM IS BELIEVED TO BE (CHARACTEROLOGICAL INFORMATION) ON THEIR ATTITUDES TOWARD THE VICTIM'S SUFFERING. IT ALSO INVESTIGATED THE EFFECT OF THE DEGREE OF THE VICTIM'S SUFFERING ON OBSERVERS' ATTITUDES. IT WAS SUGGESTED THAT OBSERVERS WOULD BE SYMPATHETIC TOWARD A VICTIM HELD IN HIGH REGARD AND THAT UNFAVORABLE INFORMATION CONCERNING THE VICTIM WOULD PRODUCE AN EMPATHY-INHIBITING ORIENTATION IN CONTRAST TO THE 'JUST WORLD HYPOTHESIS.' RECENT FINDINGS SUGGEST THAT THE FOLLOWING VARIABLES AFFECT OBSERVERS' BEHAVIOR: (1) PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT; (2) PERCEIVED COMPLICITY IN VICTIM'S SUFFERING; (3) ANTICIPATION OF A SIMILAR FATE; (4) EXPECTATIONS OF FUTURE INTERACTIONS WITH THE VICTIM; AND (5) VICTIM RESPONSIBILITY. THE EXPERIMENT INVOLVED A 3 X 5 FACTORIAL DESIGN WITH CHARACTEROLOGICAL INFORMATION (FAVORABLE, UNFAVORABLE, OR NEUTRAL) AND DEGREE OF SUFFERING (NO SUFFERING, MINOR INJURY, SEVERE INJURY, IMMEDIATE DEATH, OR PROLONGED DEATH) SERVING AS THE INDEPENDENT VARIABLES. THREE NO SUFFERING CONDITIONS SERVED AS CONTROL GROUPS. THE SUBJECTS, WHO WERE TOLD THAT THE PRIMARY INTEREST WAS TO INVESTIGATE THE COMPREHENSION OF MEDIA INFORMATION, WERE 262 UNDERGRADUATES TAKEN FROM AN INTRODUCTORY PSYCHOLOGY COURSE. AFTER READING A BOGUS NEWS RELEASE, SUBJECTS FILLED OUT A NINE ITEM QUESTIONNAIRE OF FACTUAL INFORMATION AND OPINIONS WHICH SERVED AS DEPENDENT MEASURES. THIS EXPERIMENT DEMONSTRATED THAT THE 'JUST WORLD HYPOTHESIS' CANNOT ADEQUATELY ACCOUNT FOR THE VARIANCE IN OBSERVERS' REACTIONS TO THE SUFFERING OF INNOCENT VICTIMS. IT IS CONCLUDED THAT CONTEXTUAL VARIABLES PLAY A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN OBSERVERS' REACTIONS TO VICTIMS AND THAT CHARACTER INFORMATION AND SUFFERING AFFECT DISTANT OBSERVERS' RATINGS OF VICTIMS. FOOTNOTES, TABULAR DATA, AND REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (JCP)
Index Term(s): Attitudes; Behavior patterns; Behavioral and Social Sciences; Studies; Victimization; Victimology; Witnesses
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=51550

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