Biased hate crime perceptions can reveal supremacist sympathies

  1. Wolfgang Stroebe
  2. Arie Kruglanski

Date created: | Last Updated:


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Description: People may be sympathetic to violent extremism when it serves their own interests. Such support may manifest itself via biased recognition of hate crimes. Psychological surveys were conducted in the wakes of mass shootings in the U.S., New Zealand, and the Netherlands (total N = 2,332), to test whether factors that typically predict radicalization also predict biased hate crime perceptions. Path analyses indicated a consistent pattern of motivated reasoning: hate crime perceptions were directly predicted by prejudicial attitudes and indirectly predicted by an aggrieved sense of disempowerment and consequent white/Christian nationalism. After the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, disempowerment-fueled anti-Semitism predicted lower perceptions that the gunman was motivated by hatred and prejudice (Study 1). After the Christchurch mosque shootings, disempowerment-fueled Islamoprejudice predicted lower hate crime perceptions (Study 2a), whereas after the Utrecht tram shooting (perpetrated by a Turkish-born immigrant), disempowerment-fueled Islamoprejudice predicted higher hate crime perceptions (Study 2b). Finally, after the El Paso shooting, the indirect effect of disempowerment was mediated by the perceived symbolic threat of Hispanic immigrants (but not realistic threat), suggesting a link to concerns about cultural supremacy rather than material concerns over jobs and crime (Study 3). Altogether, biased hate crime perceptions can be purposive and reveal supremacist sympathies.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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