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Perceptions of intimate partner stalking and cyberstalking: Do perpetrator and victim gender and victims' responses to stalking influence perceptions of criminal behaviour and responsibility?


Legal and Criminological Psychology

Published online on


["Legal and Criminological Psychology, EarlyView. ", "\nAbstract\n\nPurpose\nWhile the gender of stalking victims and perpetrators may affect perceptions of stalking, limited research has examined whether victim responses to stalking (i.e. ignoring or confronting the perpetrator) are similarly influential. The present study examined whether perpetrator and victim gender and victim response (ignore vs. asking the perpetrator to stop) were related to perceptions of stalking and cyberstalking.\n\n\nMethods\nParticipants (N = 223) from the United States were randomly assigned to one of four vignettes (gender × victim response) that included both in‐person stalking and cyberstalking behaviours. Perceptions assessed included: whether police intervention was necessary, whether the scenario constituted a crime, and how responsible the perpetrator and victim were for the situation. They also rated how distressing they believed the in‐person (vs. cyberstalking) behaviours would be.\n\n\nResults\nMost of the participants believed police intervention was required (57.4%), yet fewer believed a crime occurred (32.7%). Overall, in‐person stalking behaviours were seen as more distressing than were cyberstalking behaviours. Men were perceived as more responsible than women when they were both victims and perpetrators. There was an interaction between gender and victim response to stalking, such that male victims who ignored the perpetrator were considered less in need of police intervention than female victims who ignored the perpetrator (and male and female victims who confronted the perpetrator).\n\n\nConclusions\nBoth male victims and perpetrators may be perceived as more responsible by juries and informal supports. Men may be viewed as less in need of law enforcement support unless they have already confronted their pursuer.\n\n"]