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Effects of Item Order on the Perceived Seriousness of Crime: A Reexamination

Effects of Item Order on the Perceived Seriousness of Crime: A Reexamination

Abstract

This article examines the effects of item order on the perceived seriousness of crime. Previous research that addressed this question rotated only one offense to three locations on a questionnaire and concluded that item order had no effect. This research rotates several offenses, including violent, property, white-collar, and morals offenses. The perceived seriousness of an item was hypothesized to shift toward the severity of the preceding offense. The results substantiate this effect. In fact, item order was found to explain approximately the same amount of variation in the perceived seriousness of an offense as did respondents' demographic characteristics.
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