What is it about?
This study examines the factors that may influence practitioner and public attitudes toward violent offenders. Due to growing immigration from Arab countries to western societies and existing prejudice toward Arabs, we decided to compare attitudes toward Arab offenders with attitudes toward Jewish and African offenders. The research variables included participant and victim ethnic affiliation as well as observer cultural background (ethnicity & religious affiliation). We asked participants to read a case of stabbing, in which we manipulated offender and victim ethnicity. The findings indicate that offenders who belong to minority groups are blamed more. Also, our findings challenge the notion that attitudes toward offenders are related to the cultural tendency for punitiveness, while supporting hypotheses based on defensive attribution theory. Attribution of blame to offenders was found to be based on the observer's ethnic similarity to the offender and the victim. Furthermore, in some cases, such as offenders who belong to majority group (in Israel - Jewish offenders) the attribution of blame is a result of a three way interaction between offender ethnicity, victim ethnicity, and observer cultural background
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Why is it important?
From the theoretical point of view, this research contributes to the literature by emphasizing ethnic similarity and dissimilarity with the offender and victim. It seems that defensive attribution is more relevant to understanding the attitudes towards offenders who belong to minority groups than hypotheses regarding minority threat. Because findings of prior studies on attitudes toward criminals conducted in Israel are consistent with those found in the literature, our findings are relevant not just for Israeli criminal justice system. Thus, the results of this research have practical implications for the training of practitioners who work with offenders and possibly for juror selection.
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This page is a summary of: Attribution of Blame Toward Offenders: Victim and Offender Ethnicity, and Observer Ethnic and Religious Background, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, November 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0886260519885914.
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