The influence of prior relationship on perceptions of stalking in the United Kingdom and Australia

A J Scott, R Lloyd, Jeffrey Gavin

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Research in the United Kingdom and Australia has produced inconsistent findings regarding the influence of the prior relationship between the perpetrator and the target on perceptions of stalking. It is unclear whether these inconsistencies represent a genuine cross-cultural difference. The current study investigates the influence of prior relationship and the nationality of participants on perceptions of stalking with a combined sample of 315 university students from the United Kingdom and Australia. Overall, perceptions failed to reflect the reality that ex-partner stalkers pose a greater threat than stranger or acquaintance stalkers. Participants were more likely to believe that behavior constituted stalking, necessitated police intervention, caused fear or apprehension, and caused mental or physical harm when the perpetrator was depicted as a stranger rather than an acquaintance or ex-partner. The direction of findings was consistent in the United Kingdom and Australia, although Australian participants perceived the perpetrator's behavior to be more severe than did participants from the United Kingdom.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1185-1194
Number of pages10
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • perceptions
  • just world hypothesis
  • harassment
  • stalking
  • cross-cultural


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