Nobody gives a #%&!: a factorial survey examining the effect of criminological evidence on opposition to sex offender residence restrictions

  • Jason Rydberg
  • Christopher P. Dum
  • Kelly M. Socia



This short report tests whether altering messages concerning the presentation (i.e., criminal justice actor experience vs. summary of scientific findings) or nature of criminological research findings (i.e., lack of crime control effect vs. collateral consequences) regarding the (in)efficacy of sex offender residence restrictions (SORR) would subsequently affect public support for this policy.


The experimental conditions were presented in a factorial survey delivered to a national online panel, which was subsequently matched to a sampling frame representative of US adults on the basis of gender, age, race, education, ideology, and political interest (N = 970). Analysis of variance was used to estimate the impact of the experimental manipulations on SORR opposition.


Support for SORR was high across all experimental conditions, and no manipulations were statistically associated with variation in opposition to the policy.


The results support limited previous research suggesting that the public would continue to support SORR even in the lack of evidence to its effectiveness. This research suggests that altering the presenter or nature of research evidence subsequently produces no opinion change, at least in the form that was executed here. Further research on the mechanisms underlying the recalcitrance of SORR support is necessary.


Sex offender policy Public opinion Opinion change Punitive attitudes Factorial survey experiment 



This research was supported by the efforts of the Center for Public Opinion at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The authors would like to thank David Wilson and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback, and Andy Harris for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. This research was previously presented at the annual meeting for the American Society of Criminology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, in November 2017. The electronic supplementary material includes data and R script to replicate the analysis as it is presented in this manuscript.

Supplementary material

11292_2018_9335_MOESM1_ESM.csv (188 kb)
ESM 1 (CSV 187 kb)
11292_2018_9335_MOESM2_ESM.txt (10 kb)
ESM 2 (TXT 10 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Criminology and Justice StudiesUniversity of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyKent State UniversityKentUSA
  3. 3.School of Criminology and Justice Studies, Center for Public OpinionUniversity of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA

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