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Psychological and Behavioral Effects of Bias and Non-Bias Motivated Assault, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1999
193 pages
This study was designed to determine whether measurable differences existed in the psychological and behavioral sequelae of victims who had experienced an aggravated assault differentiated by the offender's motive (i.e., bias or non-bias); this was done to assist in developing more informed law and policy regarding the more severe effects that a particular type of criminal offense may have on its victims.
The research obtained data from police department criminal incident reports, probation records, and victim surveys. Records were collected and analyzed for victims of aggravated assaults in Boston during 1992-97. The sample of 560 bias-motivated assault victims and 544 non-bias assault victims yielded 136 valid surveys. Sixteen psychological and 12 behavioral indicators were examined while controlling for the effects of 7 independent aspects between the two victim groups, i.e., bias versus non-bias motivated offenses, socioeconomic factors, medical treatment, family support, quality of police response, other victimization experiences, and prior arrests. The results show that victims of bias-motivated aggravated assault experienced some types of psychological stress for more prolonged periods and with more severity than non-bias victims (e.g., excessive involuntary recalls, depression, and nervousness). Regression analysis detected a significant difference in the psychological effects of victimization based on the offender's motive. Other determining factors in the level of psychological after-effects were the location of the incident and the level of satisfaction with police services. There were, however, no distinctive differences in the avoidance/preventive behaviors of bias-motivated and non-bias-motivated assault victims. Similar research should be conducted in other jurisdictions to determine whether these factors vary across regions or according to other victimization conditions. 33 tables, 82 references, and appended study instruments

Date Published: December 1, 1999