Existing group tensions provide a convenient background against which one might both judge the severity of a violent crime and understand the underlying motivation for such an act. By changing the presented context, one should be able to influence the perceived severity of the crime. In the present experiment, 33 Israeli policemen were presented with a series of vignettes describing incidents of an assault with bodily harm. Information included in the incidents was varied systematically according to a 4-way factorial design: Context (Extremist or Criminal), Identity of Assailant (Jew or Arab), Identity of Victim (Jew or Arab), and Degree of Bodily Harm (Low or High). The participants were asked to rate the severity of the assault and of their understanding of the assailant's motivation. The findings are discussed in terms of attributional tendencies.
|International Journal of Group Tensions
|Published - 1997