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An Attractive Target: Do Perceptions of Physical Attractiveness Shape Victimization Risks in Women’s Prisons?

NCJ Number
Victims and Offenders Volume: Online Dated: 2024
Date Published
23 pages

This study evaluates whether perceptions of physical attractiveness affect victimization risks in women’s prisons.


This study uncovers an unintended consequence of physical attractiveness for imprisoned women, demonstrating their heightened susceptibility to in-prison victimization. Drawing on survey data collected from 223 women across two Pennsylvania prisons, this article investigates whether perceptions of physical attractiveness operate as protective or risk factors for victimization experienced while incarcerated. Logistic regression results show a significant positive association between interviewer-assessed perceptions of physical attractiveness and incarcerated women’s self-reported resident-on-resident victimization. Dominance analysis results indicate that perceptions of physical attractiveness ranked nearly as high as histories of abuse in predicting incarcerated women’s risk of victimization. Emerging research suggests that physical attractiveness may yield outcomes beyond preferential treatment, such as increasing the vulnerability to victimization during adolescence. Despite growing awareness of individual and institutional victimization risk factors during incarceration, research has yet to consider the role of physical attractiveness. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2024