Nobody Gives a #%&!: A Factorial Survey Examining the Effect of Criminological Evidence on Opposition to Sex Offender Residence Restrictions

Check out the latest article by Jason Rydberg, Christopher P. Dum, and Kelly M. Socia published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology.


Objectives:This short report tests whether altering messages concerning the presentation (i.e., criminal justice actor experience vs. summary of scientific findings) or nature of criminological research findings (i.e., lack of crime control effect vs. collateral consequences) regarding the (in)efficacy of sex offender residence restrictions (SORR) would subsequently affect public support for this policy. Methods: The experimental conditions were presented in a factorial survey delivered to a national online panel, which was subsequently matched to a sampling frame representative of US adults on the basis of gender, age, race, education, ideology, and political interest (N = 970). Analysis of variance was used to estimate the impact of the experimental manipulations on SORR opposition. Results: Support for SORR was high across all experimental conditions, and no manipulations were statistically associated with variation in opposition to the policy. Conclusions: The results support limited previous research suggesting that the public would continue to support SORR even in the lack of evidence to its effectiveness. This research suggests that altering the presenter or nature of research evidence subsequently produces no opinion change, at least in the form that was executed here. Further research on the mechanisms underlying the recalcitrance of SORR support is necessary.