Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Pyschology


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Professor Kevin Howells


The purpose of the study was to examine the impact of crime-specific racial stereotypes upon the Jay person's judgement about the cause of and appropriate punishment for juvenile crime. A pilot investigation (n= 30) revealed that the crimes of motor vehicle theft and possession of an illegal drug were perceived to be more strongly associated with the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal offender respectively. This information formed the basis for the type of crime and offender's race experimental manipulations of the main study. Attribution theory variables and the revised version of a previously validated questionnaire (Furnham & Henderson, 1983) were the two approaches to the measurement of cause in the present study. One hundred and eighteen residents from a random sample of suburbs belonging to the City of Wanneroo in Western Australia participated in the study. Consistent with previous research utilising attribution theory, no significant variation in the attributions based on the race of the offender and the type of crime were observed. The expected influence of crime stereotypes upon causal evaluations received little support. Interestingly, differences for all three independent variables were observed with the questionnaire approach to measurement. Further research is needed to clarify the apparent inconsistency in the findings.