This research explores perceptions of white-collar crime with a focus on gender.
Public perceptions of white-collar crime have shifted from indifference to awareness based on recent, highly publicized corporate collapses and Ponzi schemes. This research explores perceptions of white-collar crime with a focus on gender. Participants (N = 900) read 1 of 6 crime scenarios involving either a white-collar crime (Ponzi scheme, embezzlement, corporate crime) or a street crime (auto theft, burglary, prostitution) committed by a male or female offender. Respondents then rated the behavior on seriousness, harshness of punishment, and offender motivation (i.e., greed and stress). Overall, the results support previously observed patterns showing that citizens see white-collar crime as a serious societal problem. Ponzi schemes are seen as more serious than the three street crimes. The findings also show differences between male and female respondents on the issues of offense seriousness, punishment, and offender motivation, but attitudes toward offenders' gender are more ambiguous. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.