Perceptions of harm: Verbal versus physical abuse in stalking scenarios

Sheridan, Lorraine and Scott, Adrian J.. 2010. Perceptions of harm: Verbal versus physical abuse in stalking scenarios. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 37(4), pp. 400-416. ISSN 0093-8548 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Three studies employing student and community samples in the United Kingdom (total N = 514) explored the effects of verbal versus physical abuse upon judgments of seriousness, responsibility, and consequences in stalking scenarios. The first study manipulated verbal and physical abuse, the second manipulated presence and type of verbal threat, and the third manipulated physical injury. The findings confirmed that situational factors are at least as important an influence on judgments of stalking cases as are individual factors and that physical abuse was preeminent in decision making. Gender was also examined, and previous findings that female stalkers are wrongly perceived as less dangerous were again supported. It was concluded that because stalking is by nature diffuse, observers are readily influenced by what is most tangible in a stalking case.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Forensic Psychology Unit


23 November 2009Accepted

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Date Deposited:

18 May 2017 16:25

Last Modified:

12 May 2022 15:38

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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