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International Perceptions of Stalking and Responsibility: The Influence of Prior Relationship and Severity of Behavior

Adrian J. Scott, Nikki Rajakaruna, Lorraine Sheridan, and Emma Sleath
Criminal Justice and Behavior; February 2014 vol. 41 no. 2 220-236.

Abstract
This study investigates the influence of prior relationship and severity of behavior on perceptions of stalking and responsibility with a combined sample of 1,080 members of the community from Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Participants were presented with 1 of 12 versions of a hypothetical stalking scenario and responded to scale items regarding the behavior of a male perpetrator toward a female target. Prior relationship and severity of behavior influenced perceptions of stalking and responsibility, and the pattern of findings was consistent across the three countries. The perpetrator’s behavior was perceived to constitute stalking, and necessitate police intervention and a criminal conviction to the greatest extent when the perpetrator and target were portrayed as strangers. In addition, the target was perceived to be the leastresponsible and the perpetrator was perceived to be the most responsible when they were portrayed as strangers.

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