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Crime and Violence: Desensitization in Victims to Watching Criminal Events

Author

Listed:
  • Rafael Di Tella
  • Lucia Freira
  • Ramiro H. Gálvez
  • Ernesto Schargrodsky
  • Diego Shalom
  • Mariano Sigman

Abstract

We study desensitization to crime in a lab experiment by showing footage of criminal acts to a group of subjects, some of whom have been previously victimized. We measure biological markers of stress and behavioral indices of cognitive control before and after treated participants watch a series of real, crime-related videos (while the control group watches non-crime-related videos). Not previously victimized participants exposed to the treatment video show significant changes in cortisol level, heart rate, and measures of cognitive control. Instead, previously victimized individuals who are exposed to the treatment video show biological markers and cognitive performance comparable to those measured in individuals exposed to the control video. These results suggest a phenomenon of desensitization or habituation of victims to crime exposure.

Suggested Citation

  • Rafael Di Tella & Lucia Freira & Ramiro H. Gálvez & Ernesto Schargrodsky & Diego Shalom & Mariano Sigman, 2017. "Crime and Violence: Desensitization in Victims to Watching Criminal Events," NBER Working Papers 23697, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23697 Note: LE POL
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Amodio, Francesco, 2013. "Crime protection investment spillovers: theory and evidence from the city of Buenos Aires," Research Department working papers 251, CAF Development Bank Of Latinamerica.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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