Perceived threat, blaming attribution, victim ethnicity and punishment

Rozmann Nir, D. Walsh Sophie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In cases of inter-group crime, research has shown that attitudes of majority population members toward a supposed defendant are influenced by his or her ethnicity, and, moreover, that levels of perceived (group) threat toward out-group defendants can impact on levels of punishment severity which members of the majority population believe they should receive. However, little research has focused on the ethnicity of the victim and/or on blaming attribution. Based on the theory of Defensive Attribution and Integrative Threat Theory, the purpose of the current study was to extend current understandings to examine a conceptual model in which 1) victim ethnicity moderates and 2) blaming attribution mediates the relationship between ethnic threat perceptions and the support for harsh punitive sanctions toward an out-group perpetrator involved in an intra/inter-racial offence. The study included 230 Israeli-Jewish students, who read a scenario describing an Arab perpetrator of crime and either a Jewish or Arab victim, and answered questions regarding perceived Arab threat, perpetrator blaming and attitudes to punishment. In line with hypotheses, findings showed that blaming attribution toward the perpetrator partially mediated the relationship between threat perceptions and support for harsh punitive sanctions. Furthermore, results showed that ethnic similarity between the observer and victim moderated the relationship between threat perceptions and punitiveness. Results suggest the importance of highlighting understandings of majority-minority relations in the field of criminology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-40
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
StatePublished - Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Blaming attribution
  • Intergroup relations
  • Perpetrator ethnicity
  • Punishment severity
  • Threat perception
  • Victim ethnicity


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