Research Activities

Psychological Study of Hate Crime Motivation

When Words Alone Don't Suffice:  Employing a Systematic Approach in Measuring Offender Bias Motivation.
Edward Dunbar, Megan Sullaway, Desirée Crèvecoeur.

The challenge of determining bias motivation in hate crime offenders was examined with the Bias Motivation Profile-Revised (BMP-R), a rating guide that measures behavioral, historical, and ideological indicators of suspect motivation to commit a hate crime. In review of 551 hate crime cases, the BMP-R rating criteria revealed adequate external validity in classifying hate crimes from non-hate motivated crimes and non-criminal 'hate incidents', as independently determined by crime investigators. The BMP-R criteria were related to offender pre-meditation, and revealed a significant predictive relationship to hate crimes involving violence to the person. Offender differences on the BMP-R were noted for gender and age, with modest race/ethnic differences being observed. These findings illustrate the importance of examining bias motivation in terms of an array of criteria, independent of the element of hate speech, in the assessment of hate crime offenders. When Words Alone Don't Suffice: Employing a Systematic Approach in Measuring Offender Bias Motivation - (PDF)

Psychological Perspectives on Hate Crime Laws.
Megan Sullaway.

Hate crimes are those in which the victim is selected because of his or her actual or perceived race, color, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or national origin. Hate crime laws have frequently been met with objections. Whereas some objections are based in constitutional law, other objections invoke a variety of psychological constructs, including attitude, motivation, behavior, emotion, and intergroup relations. These objections can be illuminated by relevant psychological theory and research. Topics addressed include the measurement of motivation and intent, and distinctions among attitudes, emotions, and behavior. Hate crimes and other crimes are compared in terms of perpetrators, type and degree of violence, psychological and physical trauma suffered by victims, and community impact. Psychologically based defense strategies used by perpetrators of hate crimes are critiqued. Hate crime laws are also discussed in terms of the political and social values they reflect. Finally, research and policy implications are outlined, including implications for prevention and intervention at the individual, community, and law enforcement levels. Psychological Perspectives On Hate Crime Laws - (PDF)

Violence Risk Assessment of Hate Crime Offenders

Assessment of Hate Crime Offenders: The Role of Bias Intent in Examining Violence Risk.
Edward Dunbar, Jary Quinones, Desiree Crevecoeur. (2005) Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 5,1,1-19.

This study investigated the criminal histories and violence risk of a sample of 204 hate crime offenders. Record review of the offender’s criminal history was rated on the HCR-20 and Cormier-Lang scales. Crime reports were rated for the severity of the bias offense on the Victim Functional Impact scale and the offender’s targeting of outgroup victims; i.e., the bias intent. Findings indicated that 56% of the offenders had prior criminal convictions; HCR-20 ratings were comparable to those found in other offender groups and were correlated with the severity of the hate crime. The severity of the criminal history as measured on the Cormier-Lang scale, the number of prior arrests, and number of criminal convictions were significantly greater for offenders who targeted racial minority victims. Offenders who belonged to bias oriented groups had more extensive and violent criminal histories and committed more severe hate crimes. Findings are considered in terms of clinical intervention and risk assessment practices with hate crime offenders.  Assessment of Hate Crime Offenders: The Role of Bias Intent in Examining Violence Risk - (PDF)

Hate Crime Profiling: Does Age and History Predict Violent Crime?
Lindsay Cameron; Lindsay Mathews; Blair Tasker; Rachel Ceasar (Advisor: Desirée Crèvecoeur). (2005) American Psychiatric Association San Diego, CA

Participants: Rap sheets of identified perpetrators of hate crimes were analyzed and coded by members of a University of California, Los Angeles hate crime research team.

Procedure : Identified perpetrators of hate crimes were analyzed by their entire criminal history, i.e. their individual rap sheets, in order to examine risk assessment for future offenses. Criminological and behavioral characteristics were investigated.

Measures : Criminology and behavioral characteristics. Historical Clinical Risk (HCR-20), Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R).

Violence risk assessment and management are key components of clinical practice (Monahan, 1992). In the past couple of decades, research in the area of violent risk assessment has produced a number of actuarial measures. Forensic mental health professionals are now more able to reliably assess the likelihood that a given perpetrator will commit a future violent act. Previous findings have shown that prior violence and young age at first violent offence predict to greater violence in future violent recidivism. Hate crimes in particular have been shown to be on the increase and, due to their nature, are damaging to communities as a whole in addition to the individual victim. Review and analysis of the criminal histories of hate crime perpetrators is relevant then in determining the future risk assessment of this type of criminal and the potential risk to individuals as well as communities. In the current study, we compared hate crime perpetrators with no prior criminal history to those who had at least one prior crime (violent or non-violent). Do hate crime perpetrators with prior criminal histories differ from those without with regards to the age at hate crime offense, victim impact, and victim group?Hate Crime Profiling: Does Age and History Predict Violent Crime? - PDF

Symbolic, Relational, and Ideological Signifiers of Bias-Motivated Offenders: Toward a Strategy of Assessment.
Edward Dunbar. (2003) American Journal of Orthospsychiatry 73, 1, 203-211>

Developmental, ideological, and behavioral characteristics of 58 convicted hate crime offenders were examined. Ratings on the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version, HCR-20, and Bias Motivation Profile (BMP) were made via record review. Offense characteristics were rated on the Cornell Aggression Index and Cormier–Lang Crime Index. Results indicated that offenders with higher BMP scores engaged in more instrumental (i.e., premeditated) aggression and targeted racial–ethnic minority victims. Significant within-group variation in the prominence of offender bias motivation on the BMP was observed.  Symbolic, Relational, and Ideological Signifiers of Bias-Motivated Offenders: Toward a Strategy of Assessment - (PDF)

Attitudes and Peer Influence Concerning Hate Crime and Human Rights Laws

Opposition to the Legitimacy of Hate Crime Laws: The Role of Argument Acceptance, Knowledge, Individual Differences, and Peer Influence.
(2004) Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy(ASAP), 4,1. Edward Dunbar, Andres Molina.

Hate Crime laws are a highly controversial legal approach in society’s response to intergroup violence. Argument acceptance, knowledge, and individual differences were examined in relationship to attitudes about these laws. These variables were also considered in terms of efforts to influence a peer’s beliefs about hate crime laws. One-hundred and sixty-seven participants completed a measure of knowledge of human rights laws, Gough’s Pr scale, the Selznick and Steinberg anti-Semitism scale, and Cuellar’s Machismo scale. Hate crime attitudes were measured on an affect rating scale and six statements reflecting arguments favoring and opposing hate crime laws. Peer influence was examined on Interpersonal Power Inventory (IPI). Results showed that while most participants endorsed positive attitudes about hate crime laws, men—and both women and men who endorsed machismo attitudes—were more likely to agree with media distortion and identity politics arguments opposing hate crime laws. The Pr and machismo scales predicted greater effort on the IPI to influence peer attitudes about hate crime laws, after controlling for demographic differences of the participants. These findings indicate that more explicitly biased individuals were more effortful in trying to change the attitudes of peers concerning the legitimacy of hate crime laws. Opposition to the Legitimacy of Hate Crime Laws: The Role of Argument Acceptance, Knowledge, Individual Differences, and Peer Influence - (PDF)

Human Rights and Ethnic Attitudes in Spain: The Role of Cognitive, Social Status, and Individual Difference Factors.
Edward Dunbar, Megan Sullaway, Amalio Blanco, Javier Horcajo. (2004) International Journal of Psychology.

Cognitive, individual differences, and intergroup contact factors were examined in the formation of attitudes about human rights and ethnic bias in two studies conducted in Spain. A 7-item scale measuring knowledge about human rights laws in Spain and the European Union was used in both studies. Participants were university students enrolled at the Universidad Auto´noma de Madrid. In study one, participant (n=127) knowledge about human rights laws, intergroup contact, Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA), and Gough’s Prejudice/Tolerance (Pr/To) scale were examined in relationship to bias towards Gitanos. Findings revealed that knowledge about human rights and social status variables (gender and age) were not significant predictors of Gitano bias, whereas Pr/To, RWA, and contact were all (R2=.28) significant predictors of bias against Gitanos. Findings provided cross-cultural replication (Dunbar & Simonova, in press) of the relationship of Pr/To and RWA to Gitano bias. In study two, participant (n=100) knowledge and feelings (measured on a three-item semantic differential scale) about human rights laws, Pr/To, and RWA were examined in relation to strategies influencing peer attitudes about human rights on the Raven Social Influence Inventory (RSII) scale. Findings indicated that knowledge about human rights laws were correlated (r=.47, pv.001) with positive feelings about these laws. Results of a hierarchical regression analysis, controlling for knowledge about human rights laws and participants’ social status, found that the Prejudice/Tolerance scale and feelings about human rights were related with both hard (R2=.11) and soft (R2=.08) social influence strategies influencing peer human rights attitudes on the RSII. Men and higher-scoring participants on Pr/To both employed more hard social influence strategies. Findings indicate that while knowledge of human rights laws is unrelated to ethnic bias, more accurate knowledge is correlated to more positive feelings about laws meant to protect the rights of ethnic minorities. Human Rights and ethnic attitudes in Spain: The role of cognitive, social status, and individual difference factors - (PDF)

Human Rights Attitudes and Peer Influence: The Role of Explicit Bias, Gender, and Salience.
Edward Dunbar, Megan Sullaway, Amalio Blanco, Javier Horcajo, Luis de la Corte. (2006) International Journal of Intercultural Relationships

Human rights are an essential element of a civil society. Attitudes about these laws and the role of peer influence in shaping these attitudes, has not garnered much attention. This study examined the strategies individuals employ to influence a peers’ beliefs about human rights laws in Spain. One hundred ninety-six participants at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid completed measures of human rights knowledge, feelings concerning human rights, political alienation, prejudice, sexism, and ethnic bias towards Gitanos (gypsies). Social power strategies to influence peers’ attitudes about the rights of ethnic minorities (Gitanos) and women were measured on Raven’s Interpersonal Power Inventory. Gitano Bias, feelings about human rights, and Gough’s Prejudice (Pr) scale predicted the endorsement of hard influence strategies. Hostile sexism and the Pr scale predicted the use of both soft and hard strategies concerning women’s rights. Greater effort to influence a peer was employed in a high salience condition (e.g. women’s use of social power concerning the rights of women). Findings indicate that explicit bias, gender, and salience of human rights to the individual contribute to efforts to influence a peer’s beliefs concerning human rights laws.Human Rights and Gender in Spain - PDF

Psychological Impact of Bias Upon Victims

The Importance of Race and Gender Membership in Sexual Orientation Hate Crime Victimization and Reportage: Identity Politics or Identity Risk?
Edward Dunbar. (2006) Violence and Victims 21, 3.

One thousand five hundred thirty eight hate crimes committed in Los Angeles County were reviewed. Differences between sexual orientation and other hate crime categories were considered for offense severity, reportage to law enforcement, and victim impact. The type of offense varied between crimes classified for sexual orientation (n = 551) and other bias motivated crimes (n = 987). Assault, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and stalking were predictive of sexual orientation hate crimes. Sexual orientation bias crimes evidenced greater severity of violence to the person and impact upon victim level of functioning. More violent forms of aggression were predictive of gay and lesbian victim’s under-reportage to law enforcement. For sexual orientation offenses, victim gender and race/ethnicity differences were predictive of the base rates of crime reportage as well. These findings are considered in terms of a group–risk hypothesis, encountered by “multiple outgroup” persons, that influences help seeking behavior and ingroup identity.The Importance of Race and Gender Membership in Sexual Orientation Hate Crime Victimization and Reportage: Identity Politics or Identity Risk? - (PDF)

Coping with Culture-Based Conflict: Implications for Counseling Research and Practice.
Edward Dunbar, Joyce F. Liu, Ann-Marie Horvath. (1995) Cultural Diversity and Mental Health, 1, (2), 129-139.

Interpersonal conflict related to sociocultural group membership was examined with a multicultural university sample. The Social Group Conflict Scale (SGCS), collective self-esteem (CSE), and Bradburn affect scale were administered to 248 university students. The current study attempted to replicate and extend the findings on social group-based conflict recently proposed by Dunbar; Sue, and Liu. Results indicated that 51% of the subjects reported encountering interpersonal conflict attributable to their social group memberships, with ethnicity being the most frequently attributed group category. Significant gender and ethnic differences were noted in coping approach employed in responding to the conflict event. The current findings are considered in regard to effectively assessing and responding to intercultural conflict for mental health practice. Coping with Culture-Based Conflict: Implications for Counseling Research and Practice - (PDF)

Counseling Practices to Ameliorate the Effects of Discrimination and Hate Events
Edward Dunbar. (2001) The Counseling Psychologist, 29, 2, 279-307

A treatment model for the psychological sequelae of discrimination is illustrated via three treatment cases in which experiences of racism, gender and/or ethnic/religious hostility were a primary focus of intervention. The client’s level of psychological functioning, acuity of hate victimization, coping and identity re-formation strategies are addressed in this phase-oriented model of counseling. The five treatment phases are: (a) event containment and safety, (b) assessment of client-event characteristics, (c) addressing diversity in the counseling alliance, (d) acute symptom reduction, and (e) identity recovery and reformation. Counseling tasks with clients of hate victimization include the amelioration of acute post-event symptoms, re-framing of aversive outgroup attitudes, alleviating disturbance of ingroup identity, and the eradication of avoidant intergroup behaviors. It is proposed that the effective treatment of victims of chronic harassment and acute hate incidents requires the integration of behavioral, cognitive, and multicultural counseling modalities. Counseling Practices to Ameliorate the Effects of Discrimination and Hate Events - (PDF)

The Impact of Hate Crimes Upon Communities

Community Risk Factors for Hate Crimes: Race/Ethnic and Economic Change.
Lindsay Cameron.

Research on the relationship between community race/ethnic and economic change and the base rates of hate crimes has been rarely studied in the social sciences. The present study examined the role of race/ethnic and economic change in Los Angeles between 1990 and 2000 to determine their relationship to hate crime occurrence. Data collected from Los Angeles hate crime reports, including victim and offender race/ethnicity, the level of severity, and the level of bias, were combined with census data for the 1990 and 2000 censuses for race/ethnic and economic change in the corresponding census tract in which the hate crime/incident occurred. No relationship was found between economic change and hate crimes. While differences among victim race/ethnicity (White, African American, and Hispanic) and their corresponding race/ethnic change (decreasing, stable, or increasing) were largely not significant, there were significant differences between African American and White offenders and their corresponding change in race/ethnic population. Community Risk Factors for Hate Crimes: Race/Ethnic and Economic Change - (PDF)

Mean Severity and Hate Bias Intent: Effects of Crime on the Community
Heidi Campos, Lindsay Mathews, 2005 American Psychology and Law La Jolla, CA

Crimes with a specific hate element were examined. The impact upon the community attributable to hate crimes was examined via analysis of crime reports filed with the LAPD in 2003. This study addressed the severity depending upon the crime attribution and the community impact as a whole. This study also examined individual victim impact using the Cormier-Lang scale. The community impact scale was employed to measure a message element, material element, temporal element, and threat element. We examined the relationship between the community impact of these four elements and the severity. We found that individual victim impact and community impact were moderately inter-correlated illustrating the presence of both individual and community impairment due to hate crimes. Mean Severity and Hate Bias Intent: Effects of Crime on the Community - (PDF)

Instrumental vs. Reactive Hate Crimes and Community Impact.
2005 American Psychological Association Washington, D.C.

Few studies have examined the impact of hate crimes on the community, despite the assertion that hate crimes are aimed at sending a message to the whole community and not just the targeted victim (McDevitt, 1998). Hate crimes are a unique class of crimes that often are more psychologically damaging for the victim and the community (Herrek, Gillis, and Cogan, 1999; McDevitt, 1998). Edward Dunbar, in a study examining the distinctive characteristics of hate crime offenders, found that perpetrators of hate crimes who are high in bias are more likely to engage in instrumental aggression (Dunbar, 2003). Our study relates instrumental versus reactive aggression and mean severity of the offense to the impact hate crimes have on the community. Our study examined the following research questions: (1) what is the relationship between the mean severity of the crime and the impact on the community (message element, material element, temporal element, and threat element)? (2) what is the relationship between the mean severity of the crime and the bias attribution (race/ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation)? (3) what is the relationship between the instrumental vs. reactive aggression, as measured by the Cornell Index, and the impact on the community? We expect to find that crimes with a greater level of mean severity will have a greater impact on the community. We expect the current study to support previous findings (Herek, Gilles, Cogan, & Glunt, 1997) that the mean severity will be greater in bias crimes against sexual orientation. Further, we anticipate that hate crimes that exhibit mainly instrumental aggression will also have a greater impact on the community.

2005 Stanford University Undergraduate Psychology Conference

Pathological Bias: Clinical Problems of Severe Prejudice

The Prejudiced Personality, Racism, and Anti-Semitism: The PR Scale 40 Years Later.
Edward Dunbar.(1995) Journal of of Personality Assessment, 65, (2), 270-277.

These studies examined the mental health issues of extreme bias. Clinical case studies and psychometric findings illustrate the co-occurrence and unique clinical signifiers of pathologically biased mental health consumers.

The relationship of prejudiced personality traits with racism and anti-Semitism was examined with 150 Asian American and White university students. The Prejudice (PR) scale, composed of 32 items from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, was administered along with the McConahay racism scale and the Selznick and Steinberg Anti-Semitism scale. Results indicated that for Whites, the PR scale was significantly correlated with old-fashioned and modern racism and anti-Semitism, replicating Gough's 1951 study (Gough, 1951XX) with the PR scale. However, no such relationship was observed for the Asian American group. This suggests that personality traits of prejudicial attitudes may be relatively stable for Whites but may not be related to outgroup bias for other racial or ethnic groups.The Prejudiced Personality, Racism, and Anti-Semitism: The PR Scale 40 Years Later - (PDF)

Clinical Problems of Pathological Bias: Syndrome, Disorder, or Social Norm?
Edward Dunbar.

The base rates and co-morbidity of pathological bias as a clinical problem were examined with 159 psychotherapy outpatients. Ratings were assigned for the Outgroup Hostility Scale (OHS), Outgroup Empathy Scale (OES), DSM-IV diagnoses, the MMPI-2, Gough’s Pr scale, and MINI. 11.6% of the psychotherapy patients evidenced aversive and 12.6% empathic outgroup concerns. Outgroup aversive patients remained significantly longer in treatment and had higher MMPI-2 scale scores for F, Pa, and Pt. OHS scores were higher for men; OHS scores were correlated to lower GAF scores and MINI hypo-mania, hostility, and panic symptoms. Patients in committed inter-racial/ethnic relationships had higher OES scores. Establishment of a methodology that examines bias as a mental health problem is considered in terms of assessment, treatment, and legal concerns. Clinical Bias Study - (PDF)

Reconsidering the Clinical Utility of Bias as a Mental Health Problem: Intervention Strategies for Psychotherapy Practice. Edward Dunbar. (2004) Psychotherapy, 41,2,97-111.

Pathological forms of bias, an area unaddressed by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2000), are considered in terms of diagnosis and treatment. Three clinical criteria of pathological bias are proposed: intrusive ideation, aversive arousal, and relationship-damaging behaviors in contexts of intergroup contact. A model of treatment is presented, encompassing dialogical, pharmacological, behavioral, and contextual interventions. Development of a research agenda addressing the clinical utility of pathological bias needs to examine the patient’s functional impairment, risk to commit bias-motivated aggression, and ability to benefit from treatment. Establishment of a reliable and valid methodology for psychotherapy research, as well as the legal and public health implications of viewing bias as a mental health problem, are discussed. Reconsidering the clinical utility of bias as a mental health problem: Intervention strategies for psychotherapy practice- PDF

Clinical Manifestations of Prejudice in Psychotherapy: Toward a Strategy of Assessment and Treatment
Edward Dunbar, Megan Sullaway. (1996) Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 3, (4), 296-309.

Social bias is an issue of concern to both practitionersand clinical researchers. This article considers race and ethnic prejudice as a prominent clinical feature in three psychotherapy cases. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.) diagnoses, General Adaptive Functioning ratings, and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventoy scores are considered in terms of the level of patient disturbance and severity of outgroup prejudice. Two cases exemplify chronic adverse outgroup ideation, decting a constellation of traits of personality disturbance, disinhibition, and adverse behavioral response (e.g., panic, hostility, and/or aggression) to integroup contact, while one case evidences prejudicial ideation as a transitory, conditioned response to traumatic victimization by a member of a racial outgroup. Prejudice is considered as a clinical syndrome, with treatment strategy considered in terms of the severity and chronicity of prejudicial ideation.

Clinical Manifestations of Prejudice in Psychotherapy - PDF