A comparison of public perceptions of cisgender male and transgender male stalking perpetrators

Published date14 November 2022
Date14 November 2022
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Criminal psychology,Sociology,Sociology of crime & law,Deviant behaviour,Public policy & environmental management,Policing,Criminal justice
AuthorLydia Caroline Cook,Simon C. Duff
A comparison of public perceptions of
cisgender male and transgender male
stalking perpetrators
Lydia Caroline Cook and Simon C. Duff
Purpose The purpose of this study is to compare perceptions of male cisgender and male transgender
stalking perpetrators. There present study compared participants’ perceptions of whether behaviour
constituted stalking, posed a threat, had a risk of violence and required police intervention when the
perpetrator was transgender or cisgender. The present study also sought to replicate the prior-relationship
misconception in stalking literature and to investigate whether perceptions of transgender perpetrators
changed based on the age and gender of the perceiver.
Design/methodology/approach Participants readvignettes outlining the relationship betweenvictim
and perpetrator as well as a description of the stalking behaviours. Participants then reported their
perceptionsof the four dependent variables on Likert-typescales.
Findings The prior-relationship misconception was replicated. There w ere no significant differences in
perceptions of transgender and cisgender perpetrators acro ss the four dependent variables. There were also
no significant differences in perceptions based on the gender of th ep erceiver. Contrary to expectations, older
participants perceived transgender perpetrators as l ess threatening than younger participants.
Research limitations/implications The prior-relationshipmisconception is robust to gender identity
of the perpetrator. The participants in the present study seemedto make judgements based on stalking
behaviour and notthe gender identity of the perpetrator. Futureresearch should replicate this study with
more severestalking behaviours and with greatervariation in gender identity.
Originality/value To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to compare perceptions of
cisgender and transgender males in the context of stalking perpetration. There is also considerationof how the
demographics of the perceiver could impact these perceptions. This study also contributesto research on the
prior-relationship misconception by demonstrating that the misconception is robust to gender identification of
the perpetrator.
Keywords Stalking, Misconception, Prior relationship, Transgender, Threat, Cisgender
Paper type Research paper
Public perceptions of stalking
Stalking is considered a relatively new crime; despite the prolonged existence of intrusive
and proximity-seeking behaviours (Van Der Aa, 2018); the UK did not introduce legislation
specific to stalking until 2012 (Petherick, 2017). Prior to this, stalking-like behaviours were
legislated by the Protection from Harassment Act, introduced in 1997 (Maple et al.,2011).
At present, there is no statutory definition of stalking (Van Der Aa, 2018). However, both
literature and legislation discuss systematic, repetitive and intrusive behaviours (Van Der
Aa, 2018) that cause the victim fear or apprehension(Petherick, 2017).
The criminalisation of stalking-like behaviours under the Harassment Act sparked empirical
interest in public perceptions of stalking, namely, how the public perceived the crime, and
Lydia Caroline Cook and
Simon C. Duff are both
based at the Forensic and
Family Psychology, School
of Medicine, University of
Nottingham, Nottingham,
Received 19 September 2021
Revised 1 March 2022
Accepted 21 July 2022
Public significance statement:
The present study explores
how public misconceptions
about stalking can impact
perceptions of threat with
regards to prior relationship
between victim and perpetrator
and the gender identification of
the perpetrator. These
misconceptions can be
addressed through accurate
media portrayals of stalking,
through police response to
victims and through referrals to
appropriate victim-support
Data availability statement:
Ethical approval for this
research was provided by
Nottingham University Ethics
Committee (reference
number 4762001).
DOI 10.1108/JCP-09-2021-0037 VOL. 13 NO. 2 2023, pp. 105-119, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2009-3829 jJOURNAL OF CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGY jPAGE 105

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