Poster Presentation

The Effect of Gender of Victim and Gender of Perpetrator on Recall of a Crime

Lindsey Coyle, Emily Foy, Bethany Kasdon, and Sarah White

ABSTRACT

The relationship between gender of the victim of a crime, gender of the perpetrator of a crime, gender of the eyewitness of a crime, and recall of that crime were examined in a 2x2 independent groups factorial design. Forty-four female subjects were split into 4 conditions based on the gender of the victim and the perpetrator in the video scene they viewed: female victim and female perpetrator, female victim and male perpetrator, male victim and male perpetrator, and male victim and female perpetrator. The dependent variable, accuracy of recall, was measured using a open-ended questionnaire based on the scene. No relationship was found between gender of perpetrator, victim, and eyewitness on recall of a crime. Gender may not be as significant a factor in eyewitness testimony as previous research has suggested.

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND

3 previous research studies + 1 pilot study

¨ Powers, Andriks, & Loftus (1978) examined the types of details eyewitnesses recalled about a crime in correlation to the gender of the subject (gender-bias). They determined that the female participants recalled more information about actions in crime, and male participants recalled more information about physical or environmental conditions in crime scene.

study didn’t examine relationship between gender of the eyewitness and gender of the victim in a crime, or gender of the perpetrator of a crime.

¨ DeMaris, Pugh, and Harman (1992) studied the role of eyewitness gender in the accuracy of recall of a violent criminal offense. By testing both male and female eyewitnesses they found that each over reported actions within the violent crime scene, (reporting they occurred more often than they actually did) and underreported actions within the nonviolent crime scene. Also, they found that participants who were emotionally distressed by the content in the violent scene were significantly more accurate than those subjects who were less affected.

Study didn’t find a difference between the way male and female eyewitnesses recall events of a crime scene.

¨ Shaw and Skolnik (1994) investigated the relationship between gender and eyewitness recall of an event, concentrating on the validity of recall of various objects rather than a crime scene. Results confirmed a predicted own-sex bias effect. These findings are significant because they demonstrate a relationship between gender and recall.

¨ Our pilot study focused on the relationship between the gender of the eyewitness and the gender of the victim, measuring accuracy of female subject’s recall for male vs. female victim crimes. Although results were not significant, this study served as groundwork to add our second independent variable, gender of perpetrator.

HYPOTHESES

  1. Female participants will accurately recall more details when the victim is female.
  2. Female participants will accurately recall more details when the perpetrator is female.
  3. Female participants will accurately recall the most details when both the victim and the perpetrator are female.
  4. Subjects that report high levels of emotional distress will accurately recall more details of the crime.

OBJECTIVE

The present study tested the effects of gender of the victim and gender of the perpetrator of a crime on accuracy of eyewitness recall of that crime. The first independent variable, gender of the victim, varied over two levels, male and female. The second independent variable, gender of the victim, varied over two levels, male and female. The dependent variable, accuracy of eyewitness recall, was measured by responses to an open-ended questionnaire.

METHOD

SUBJECTS

MATERIALS

PROCEDURE

RESULTS

 

DISCUSSION

DESIGN PROBLEMS

IMPLICATIONS

FUTURE RESEARCH

PHOTO CAPTIONS

(These are questions that were taken from the questionnaire given to participants in order to measure their recall of the crime scene.)

What did Betty remind the person on the phone to do?

What did Dave say was the name of the park?

Where did the perpetrator first grab Betty?

What color was Dave’s shirt?

What is Dave’s height compared to the perpetrator?

What does Betty give the perpetrator?