Gender framing effects in victim surveys
AbstractCrime victimization surveys are important sources of trend information and provide data for basic criminological research. In recent years, victim surveys have proliferated and their strengths are well known. The aim of this study is to increase the methodological literature on victim surveys by analysing framing effects, defined as the way the survey instrument communicates its topic and aim, especially in terms of the gendered nature of violence. Three experimental frames were applied to independent, random samples of the adult Finnish population: male-to-male violence frame, female-to-male violence frame, and male-to-female violence frame. The impacts of these frames were analysed in relation to two outcome variables: self-assessed propensity to report hypothetical borderline incidents in a victim survey and reporting of prior personal violent victimization. Thus, we utilized measures of both intended survey reporting behaviour and real survey reporting behaviour. The findings indicate that the male-to-female violence frame increases the willingness of the respondents to report borderline cases to survey researchers, regardless of other factors. It also increases the prevalence of reported prior victimizations. The female-to-male frame has a similar but weaker framing effect. The findings are discussed from the point of view of the ‘conversation’ paradigm of survey methods research.