A Multidimensional Approach to the Problem of Crime Seriousness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The interest of the discipline in explaining the attribution of severity to offenses has been enduring but the methods of the past have contributed little to our understanding of the concept of severity and its components. This study introduces a new method designed to address the methodological and theoretical concerns of working criminologists. Randomly selected respondents sorted index cards containing descriptions of specific crimes. First, they grouped the cards by perceived similarity of offenses, then they ranked the offenses within each group according to perceived severity. The authors, after applying smallest space analysis to the results of the card sort, conclude that two discrete variables account jointly for the perception of crime severity by the citizen: Presence of criminal intent and degree of injury. The implications of replacing unidimensional methods with this new approach are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-191
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'A Multidimensional Approach to the Problem of Crime Seriousness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this