Date of Award


Document Type


Primary Advisor

Suzie Macaluso

Secondary Advisor

David Dillman

Committee Reader

Curtis Clements


Crime in the United States has been and will continue to be a public problem (Saad, 2007). Thus, it is important to know how the public perceives different types of crime. For the focus of this study, perceptions of crime seriousness will be analyzed based on the race of the criminal and the type of crime committed (white-collar vs. non-violent property crime) as the variables of interest. This exploratory research will be used to discover the relationship between the factors of a specific crime and the public’s perception of the seriousness of that crime in terms of seriousness and punishment. Surveys will be administered to the student body and faculty of a private university in West Texas. These surveys will present questions in the form of a case study in order to identify how one’s perception of crime seriousness changes as the two independent variables change. This is foundational research for directly analyzing the effects of race and type of crime on a community’s perception of crime seriousness by using different case studies to present the scenarios. Other studies have looked at these variables of interest (Herzog, 2003; O’Connell & Whelan, 1996), but none have been completed here in the United States. The goal of this study is to reveal any biases present within the university’s community that could explain a difference in perceptions of crime seriousness. It is likely that the public’s perception of crime seriousness influences the perceived effectiveness of the criminal justice system here in the United States.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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