Reporting Crimes to the Police Depends on Relationship Networks: Effects of Ties Among Victims, Advisors, and Offenders

Lauren K. Knoth, R. Barry Ruback

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

A victim’s decision to report a crime to the police is typically made after talking with someone else, usually a friend or relative, but sometimes a stranger. The advice this person gives depends primarily on the seriousness of the crime, and to some extent on the gender and age of the victim. The present research, which used experimental vignettes, examined the role of social networks in reporting: How do the relationships among a victim, the advisor, and the offender affect the advice to report or not to report a violent or nonviolent crime? Results from Study 1 indicated that relationships matter: Crimes are least likely to be reported if the offender is part of the same triad as the victim and the advisor, and crimes are most likely to be reported if the victim, the advisor, and the offender are all strangers. Study 1 also found that males are more likely to protect friends who are offenders (by advising against reporting), while females are more likely to protect friends who are victims (by advising them to report). Study 2 found that the effect of these relationships on reporting is conditioned by the nature of the organization to which the offender belongs, such that males are particularly likely to protect their friends in athletic organizations and fraternities when accused of minor property crimes. Both studies found that gender differences in the advice to report are moderated by characteristics of the crime and triad structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2749-2773
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Volume34
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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