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Perceptions of White-Collar Crime Seriousness: Unpacking and Translating Attitudes into Policy Preferences

NCJ Number
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 60 Issue: 5 Dated: 2023 Pages: 582-622
Date Published
41 pages

The authors discuss their research methodology and outcomes regarding public perception of white-collar crime seriousness and its implications for public policy and support for prevention programs.


This paper reports on research that had the primary objectives of testing the role of individual and crime characteristics on public opinions of white-collar crime seriousness and support for crime reduction policy, as well as considering the relationship between perceptions of crime seriousness and support for public policies to reduce white-collar crime. The authors describe their research methodology, which involved collecting data from a nationally representative survey. Models incorporated respondent-level random effects to account for multiple ratings per respondent. Results suggested that crimes committed by organizations are perceived more seriously than those committed by individuals. The authors state that perceptions of a white-collar crime as more serious than burglary increase the likelihood of supporting prevention programs; and race and political party are related to both perceptions of crime seriousness and support for prevention policy. They conclude that there may be less consensus around perceptions of white-collar crime seriousness than for other crime types. Perceptions of crime seriousness are a function of both individual and crime characteristics that structure assessments of risk, harmfulness, and wrongfulness. Group differences may be related to differences in awareness of the scope, harms, and perceived victimization risk associated with particular crime types. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2023