Explanations about crime and psychological distress in ethnic minority and white victims of crime: a qualitative exploration

Lloyd Carson, Malcolm D. MacLeod

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This study reports the findings of a qualitative analysis of ethnic minority crime victims' causal explanations of crime. The analysis indicated that usage of ascriptions involving ‘race’ or ‘racism’ appeared to be associated with relatively poor psychological adjustment. Usage of racial explanations did not, however, appear to be related to the type of incident, the seriousness of the incident, or satisfaction with the police response. It is suggested that crime explanations embodying immutable aspects of the self, such as ethnicity, might prevent adjustment, whereas those incorporating mutable features of the self or circumstances might act as effective coping strategies by allowing victims to perceive the incident as random or temporary and therefore unlikely to recur. This interpretation was supported by an analysis of the types of explanation utilized by distressed and non-distressed White victims in a matched control group. These findings are discussed in relation to models of attributional activity, coping and psychological status. Finally, their practical applications are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-375
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997


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