Quality & Quantity

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 1331–1348 | Cite as

The framing of risks and the communication of subjective probabilities for victimizations

  • Ivar KrumpalEmail author
  • Heiko RauhutEmail author
  • Dorothea Böhr
  • Elias Naumann


What does ‘likely’ mean, when respondents estimate the risk to become a victim of crime? Victimization risks can either be interpreted as gains (“being spared of offences”) or as losses (“becoming a victim of crime”). Because losses are perceived as more severe, respondents will state lower subjective victimization probabilities in the loss-frame, compared to the gain-frame. We demonstrate such a framing-effect with data from an experimental survey. Furthermore, we show that the meaning of vague quantifiers varies with the frequency and the severity of the event. Respondents assign to the same vague quantifiers (e.g. ‘unlikely’) higher likelihoods in terms of percentages for frequent and for less severe events than for infrequent and for severe events. In conclusion, respondents do not use vague quantifiers consistently so that it is problematic to compare subjective risks for different victimizations.


Response effects Framing Vague quantifiers Survey methodology Conversational norms 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Chair of Sociology, in particular of Modeling and Simulation, CLU E6ZurichSwitzerland

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