Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Number of Pages
Studies and victimization surveys suggest that many, if not most, crimes are not reported to legal authorities. The overarching aim of this project was to examine the roles of individual and contextual differences in bystanders’ willingness to report crimes to, and cooperate with, legal authorities. A sample of 1,434 adults in the U.S. completed a survey in which they read and responded to crime vignettes and responded to items theoretically measuring individual differences in legal socialization, perceived legitimacy, the need for cognitive closure, right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, and the general willingness to cooperate. Bystanders’ relationship to the victim, relationship to the suspected perpetrator, and the crime severity were experimentally manipulated between vignettes. I used latent variable models to examine the measurement structure of key concepts and the relationships between individual differences and the general willingness to cooperate; I used multilevel models to examine how both individual and situational differences predict the willingness to cooperate in hypothetical crime scenarios. Results supported multidimensional measurement models of legal socialization and perceived legitimacy, showed associations between dimensions of legal socialization and perceived legitimacy, and robust associations between dimensions of legal socialization, perceived legitimacy, and the willingness to cooperate. In addition, the need for cognitive closure, right-wing authoritarianism, and social dominance orientation explained a substantive amount of variance in the willingness to cooperate, but the relationships were different depending on the particular facet of right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation and, in some instance, the relationships changed depending on situational factors, especially the relationship to the victim. The need for cognitive closure, right-wing authoritarianism, and social dominance orientation were associated with dimensions of both legal socialization and perceived legitimacy, offering empirical support for theoretical integration. Further, crime severity and the bystander’s relationship to the perpetrator had the strongest main effects on the willingness to report across different types of crime and controlling for every individual difference measure. The relationship to the victim also affected the willingness to cooperate, but the magnitude and direction of the relationship depended on individual differences. The findings both support and extend prior theory and studies. I discuss their implications, as well as limitations of the current study and directions for future research.
Legal socialization; Legitimacy; Motivated social cognition; Need for cognitive closure; Right-wing authoritarianism; Social dominance orientation
Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Psychology | Social Psychology
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
West, Matthew P., "Bystanders’ Willingness to Report Crimes and Cooperate with Legal Authorities: The Role of Individual and Contextual Differences" (2021). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 4219.
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