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The Seriousness of Crimes: Normative Structure and Individual Differences

Peter H. Rossi, Emily Waite, Christine E. Bose and Richard E. Berk
American Sociological Review
Vol. 39, No. 2 (Apr., 1974), pp. 224-237
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2094234
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Seriousness of Crimes: Normative Structure and Individual Differences
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Abstract

Using ratings of the seriousness of a set of 140 crimes obtained from a household sample taken in Baltimore in 1972, the study explores certain collective characteristics of these ratings. Respondents largely agree on the relative ordering of crimes. Very few descriptive characteristics of the crimes account for much of the variation from crime to crime in the average ratings received. The more highly educated and the younger the respondents, the more likely were their ratings to agree with average ratings computed over the entire sample. These findings indicate that norms concerning crime seriousness are widely diffused throughout subgroups of our society.

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