Crime and Violence: Desensitization in Victims to Watching Criminal Events

35 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2017

See all articles by Rafael Di Tella

Rafael Di Tella

Harvard Business School - Business, Government and the International Economy Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Lucia Freira

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Ramiro H. Gálvez

Buenos Aires University

Ernesto Schargrodsky

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Diego Shalom

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Mariano Sigman

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2017

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

Di Tella, Rafael and Freira, Lucia and Gálvez, Ramiro H. and Schargrodsky, Ernesto and Shalom, Diego and Sigman, Mariano, Crime and Violence: Desensitization in Victims to Watching Criminal Events (August 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23697. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3023097

Rafael Di Tella (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Business, Government and the International Economy Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States
617-495-5048 (Phone)
617-496-5985 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/rditella/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Lucia Freira

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella ( email )

Minones 2159
C1428ATG Buenos Aires, 1428
Argentina

Ramiro H. Gálvez

Buenos Aires University ( email )

Figueroa Alcorta 2002
CABA
Buenos Aires, WY 1414
Argentina

Ernesto Schargrodsky

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella ( email )

Minones 2159
1428 Buenos Aires, 1428
Argentina
+54 11 4784 0080 (Phone)
+54 11 4783 3220 (Fax)

Diego Shalom

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Minones 2159
C1428ATG Buenos Aires, 1428
Argentina

Mariano Sigman

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella ( email )

Minones 2159
C1428ATG Buenos Aires, 1428
Argentina

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