An Empirical Assessment of the Affect of Crime Salience on Attitudes Toward Crime, Welfare and Immigration

Michael T. Costelloe, Florida State University
Ted Chiricos, Florida State University
Marc Gertz, Florida State University

As previous research has noted, the expected relationship between crime salience and punitive attitudes toward crime is rather straightforward. It is reasonable to expect that those who are most fearful of crime, more concerned about crime, and who have been criminally victimized in the past will express more punitive sentiments toward crime and criminals. The relationship between crime salience and punitiveness toward welfare and immigration may not be so apparent. It is reasonable to assume that there are many who associate the issues of crime, welfare, and immigration with similar populations, namely inner city minorities. Crime has long been associated with those perceived as alien and dangerous "others." Immigrants and the "undeseerving poor," for example, are often viewed as suffering from individual moral failings and as being disproportionately involved in criminal behavior. Using OLS and logistic regression, our study demonstrates that the affect of crime salience extends beyong attitudes toward crime.

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Updated 05/20/2006