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Vigilante Behavior and Attribution Bias

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 14 Issue: 2 Dated: (June 1987) Pages: 123-137
J Neapolitan
Date Published
15 pages
There has been in recent years much debate and controversy over when private citizens are justified in taking the law into their own hands.
This research proposes that whether vigilante behavior is seen as justified or not depends not only upon the objective events but upon the social characteristics of the participants, the environmental context, and the results of actions. Using hypotheses derived from attribution, equity, and symbolic interaction theories, it was found that identification with either actor and symbolic meanings in the environment influence vigilante behavior and justification of such behavior. Support was not found for equity theory hypotheses that resultant injuries influence justifications. (Publisher abstract)