30 Canadian J. Criminology 3 (1988)
News Media Use and Public Perceptions of Crime Seriousness

handle is hein.journals/cjccj30 and id is 7 raw text is: News Media Use and Public
Perceptions of Crime Seriousness1
ROBERT J. GEBOTYS
DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY
WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY
JULIAN V. ROBERTS
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, CANADA
AND
BIKRAM DAsGUPTA
DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY
WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY
Deux enqu~tes d'opinion publique ont examin6 la relation entre l'utilisation
des m6dias et le sentiment de la gravit6 de la criminalitd. Les r6pondants ont
d~clar6 dans quelle mesure ils 6taient renseign6s par les m6dias d'information
et ont cot6 la gravit6 de neuf infractions fr~quentes. I1 a aussi dt6 posd des
questions se rattachant A des variables d6mographiques et au fait d'avoir 6
victime ou non d'un crime. I1 s'est d6gag6 une relation sensiblement positive
entre m6dias et sentiment de la gravit6 de la criminalit6. De hauts scores
d'dcoute des informations t616visdes s'assortissaient de notes de gravitd 6lev6es.
Ce r6sultat cadre avec de r6cents travaux selon lesquels les nouvelles de
crimes des m~dias exercent un effet certain: en mettant l'accent sur des
crimes fort graves, les m6dias semblent influer sur le sentiment de la gravit6
d'autres infractions moins graves et non connexes. Par contraste avec des
recherches pr6c6dentes, le sentiment de la gravit6 de la criminalit6 se ressen-
tait sensiblement du sexe du r6pondant et du fait qu'il avait 6t6 rcemment
victime ou non d'un crime. Les femmes et les personnes qui n'avaient pas 6t6
victimes d'un crime au cours de l'ann6e pr6c6dente estimaient la criminalit6
plus grave que les hommes et que les victimes r6centes. Ces constatations sont
examin6es A la lumire d'autres recherches qui d~montrent l'influence qu'exer-
cent les m6dias d'information sur ce que pense le public de la criminalit6 et
du chAtiment.
Two public opinion surveys examined the relationship between media use
and perceptions of crime seriousness. Respondents indicated how frequently
they attended to the news media and rated the seriousness of nine common
offences. There were also questions dealing with demographic variables and
experiences with victimization. A significant positive relationship emerged
between media use and perceptions of crime seriousness. High scores on
television news viewing were associated with high seriousness ratings. This
result is consistent with recent work suggesting that media presentations of
crime have an anchoring effect: by emphasizing high serious crimes such as
homocide, the news media appear to affect perceptions of the seriousness of
other, less serious and unrelated offences. In contrast to earlier research,

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