The Role of the Media in Shaping Responses to Sexual Offending

  • Craig A. Harper
Part of the Sexual Crime book series (SEXCR)


It is well documented that media outlets set the agenda for how we discuss controversial topics, and sexual crime is no exception. What is less understood, though, are the psychological mechanisms that these organisations use when presenting information. This chapter explores the theoretical world of dual-process cognition. There is a focus on heuristics, which are mental shortcuts that we use to make decisions without requiring a lot of mental effort. Examples of how media outlets capitalise on these heuristics in their presentation of sexual offending are discussed. In the second half, emerging research on attitudes towards individuals who have committed sexual offences is investigated, and suggestions for using these findings to promote more constructive responses to this serious public health issue are set out.


Media influence Attitudes towards sexual offenders Dual-process cognition CoSA Attitude change 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Craig A. Harper
    • 1
  1. 1.Nottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK

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