Qual Quant (2011) 45:1331–1348
The framing of risks and the communication of subjective
probabilities for victimizations
Ivar Krumpal · Heiko Rauhut · Dorothea Böhr ·
Published online: 23 June 2010
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010
Abstract What does ‘likely’ mean, when respondents estimate the risk to become a victim
of crime? Victimization risks can either be interpreted as gains (“being spared of offences”) or
as losses (“becoming a victim of crime”). Because losses are perceived as more severe, respon-
dents will state lower subjective victimization probabilities in the loss-frame, compared to
the gain-frame. We demonstrate such a framing-effect with data from an experimental survey.
Furthermore, we show that the meaning of vague quantiﬁers varies with the frequency and
the severity of the event. Respondents assign to the same vague quantiﬁers (e.g. ‘unlikely’)
higher likelihoods in terms of percentages for frequent and for less severe events than for
infrequent and for severe events. In conclusion, respondents do not use vague quantiﬁers
consistently so that it is problematic to compare subjective risks for different victimizations.
Keywords Response effects · Framing · Vague quantiﬁers · Survey methodology ·
“I thought you’d never come here again,“ I said.
“Every time I see you, you say the same thing,” she said, laughing. As always, she sat
down next to me at the bar and rested both hands on the counter. “But I did write you
a note saying I wouldn’t be back for a while, didn’t I?”
“For a while is a phrase whose length can’t be measured. At least by the person who’s
waiting,” I said.
I. Krumpal (
) · D. Böhr · E. Naumann
Department of Sociology, University of Leipzig, Beethovenstr. 15, 04107 Leipzig, Germany
H. Rauhut (
Chair of Sociology, in particular of Modeling and Simulation, CLU E6, Clausiusstrasse 50,
8092 Zurich, Switzerland