Attribution of Responsibility: Sex-based Bias in Press Reports on Crime

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The growing body of research on the subject of women and the media has only recently begun to consider the treatment of female criminality. The present study examines the ‘chivalry hypothesis’ as related to media portrayals of female criminality. The data were obtained from a systematic content analysis of 724 press reports of crimes which appeared in Israel's leading dailies. The attribution-of-responsibility statements in these reports were classified by type of offence, offender's sex and other variables. A multivariate analysis, applying the log-linear procedure, reveals the effect of the interaction between the offender's sex and the type of crime on the tendency of the press to present the offender as a ‘pawn’ or as an ‘origin’ type criminal. In spite of the overall tendency to treat female criminality as a consequence of social or psychological factors (i.e. a ‘pawn’), the attribution of responsibility varies significantly across categories of crime, suggesting that sex-based bias in press reports of crime is highly dependent in the offence involved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-430
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication


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