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Using risk of crime detection to study change in mechanisms of decision-making | 2024
Barnes JC, Moffitt TE, Tanksley PT, Tasharrofi S, Poulton R, ... Show all » Caspi A 2024. « Hide
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. , 2024, 126(3), 477-491.
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Show abstract » Perceptions of crime detection risk (e.g., risk of arrest) play an integral role in the criminal decision-making process. Yet, the sources of variation in those perceptions are not well understood. Do individuals respond to changes in legal policy or is perception of detection risk shaped like other perceptions—by experience, heuristics, and with biases? We applied a developmental perspective to study self-reported perception of detection risk. We test four hypotheses against data from the Dunedin Longitudinal Study (analytic sample of N = 985 New Zealanders), a study that spans 20 years of development (Ages 18–38, years 1990–2011). We reach four conclusions: (1) people form their perception of detection risk early in the life course; (2) perception of detection risk may be general rather than unique to each crime type; (3) population-level perceptions are stable between adolescence and adulthood; but (4) people update their perceptions when their life circumstances change. The importance of these findings for future theoretical and policy work is considered.
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