Appropriately upset? Emotion norms and perceptions of crime victims

Mary R. Rose*, Janice Nadler, Jim Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Scopus citations


Victims who express less emotion in response to a crime are perceived as less deserving, less sympathetic, and they have less punishment assigned to the offender who committed the crime. This study considers the extent to which emotion norms underlie perceptions of victims who testify. Two studies investigate the circumstances in which emotional reactions to a crime are seen as "unusual" and whether a more general emotion norm underlies responses to victim testimony. We test a "victim-role" norm against a "proportionality" norm by crossing the severity of victim's emotional response (severe or mild) with the seriousness of a crime (serious or less serious). Results across two studies lend greater support to the notion that people expect victims to match the intensity of their emotional response to the seriousness of the event (i.e., a proportionality rule), although we also find instances in which expectations of the victim are not strong. Gender of the victim exhibited small and contingent effects. We discuss the relevance of emotion norms to legal settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-219
Number of pages17
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006


  • Emotions
  • Norms
  • Victims

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law

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