Perceptions of White-Collar Crime Seriousness: Unpacking and Translating Attitudes into Policy Preferences

Sally S. Simpson, Miranda A. Galvin, Thomas A. Loughran, Mark A. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives: Test the role of individual and crime characteristics on public opinions of white-collar crime seriousness and support for crime reduction policy; consider the relationship between perceptions of crime seriousness and support for public policies to reduce white-collar crime. Methods: Data from a nationally-representative survey. Respondents (n = 2,050) rated ten white-collar crimes, relative to a street crime (burglary) and also indicated their relative support (i.e., willingness to pay) for 16 policies to reduce various types of white-collar crime. Models incorporate respondent-level random effects to account for multiple ratings per respondent. Results: Crimes committed by organizations are perceived more seriously than those committed by individuals. Perceptions of a white-collar crime as more serious than burglary increase the likelihood of supporting prevention programs. Race and political party are related to both perceptions of crime seriousness and support for prevention policy. Conclusions: There may be less consensus around perceptions of white-collar crime seriousness than for other crime types. Perceptions of crime seriousness are a function of both individual and crime characteristics that structure assessments of risk, harmfulness, and wrongfulness. Group differences may be related to differences in awareness of the scope, harms, and perceived victimization risk associated with particular crime types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-622
Number of pages41
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Perceptions of White-Collar Crime Seriousness: Unpacking and Translating Attitudes into Policy Preferences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this