Nobody gives a #%&!: a factorial survey examining the effect of criminological evidence on opposition to sex offender residence restrictions
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.
KeywordsSex 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.
- Champley, S. (2017). pwr: basic functions for power analysis. R package version 1.2–1. https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=pwr.
- Cohn, N. (2014). Explaining online panels and the 2014 midterms. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/28/upshot/explaining-online-panels-and-the-2014-midterms.html?smid=pl-share.
- Key, V. O. (2005). Public opinion and American democracy. In A. G. Serow & E. C. Ladd (Eds.), The Lanahan readings in the American Polity (4th ed., pp. 387–393). Baltimore: Lanahan Publishers.Google Scholar
- Levenson, J. S., Brannon, Y. N., Fortney, T., & Baker, J. (2007). Public perceptions about sex offenders and community protection policies. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 7(1), 137–161.Google Scholar
- McCroskey, J. C., & Richmond, V. P. (1996). Fundamentals of human communication. Prospect Heights: Waveland Press.Google Scholar
- Rivers, D. (2006). Sample matching: representative sampling from internet panels. Polimetrix White Paper Series.Google Scholar
- Shadish, W. R., Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (2002). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for generalized causal inference. Belmont: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
- Singleton, R., & Strait, B. (2010). Approaches to social research (5th edn.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Socia, K. M., & Rydberg, J. (2016). Sex offender legislation and policy. In T. G. Blomberg, J. M. Brancale, K. M. Beaver, & W. D. Bales (Eds.), Advancing criminology and criminal justice policy. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Stone, R., & Socia, K. M. (2017). Boy with toy or black male with gun: an analysis of online news articles covering the shooting of Tamir Rice. Race and Justice. https://doi.org/10.1177/2153368716689594.
- Tewksbury, R., Mustaine, E. E., & Payne, B. K. (2011). Community corrections professionals’ views of sex offenders, sex offender registration and community notification and residency restrictions. Federal Probation, 75(3), 45.Google Scholar
- YouGov. (2014). Latest findings in Economist/YouGov poll. Retrieved from http://today.yougov.com/news/categories/economist/.