Does this LOOK like STALKING to you? factors associated with identification of stalking behaviours
Perceptions of stalking are highly variable, dependent upon personal definitions and experiences. For example, recent surveys have found that young persons view social media stalking as acceptable and not distressing. Similarly, popular media often depicts stalking variably as misguided romance to psychotic deviance. In Canada, legal definitions of stalking (criminal harassment) are predicated on the victim feeling fear for their personal safety. Given that stalking is a victim-defined crime, understanding the circumstances under which stalking is identified and reported is critical for awareness, support, and prevention efforts. The present study aims to evaluate stalking identification in relation to lived experience, beliefs/myth endorsement, and characteristics of the stalking incidents themselves (such as form, intensity, and escalation). Participants (N = 500+) will be provided vignettes that vary in accordance with our variables of interest. They will be asked to assess the scenarios and identify specific points at which they would identify the behaviours as stalking, fear-inducing, and when they would seek police intervention. We anticipate that participants who have not been stalked will fail to recognize harassing behaviours and may only view stalking as such when it involves frequent, intense, and physical episodes. That said, those with lived experience related to stalking may vary more, with the possibility of lowered recognition of stalking cues (as depictions may differ from personal experience) or greater sensitivity to stalking cues and earlier identification. Empirical studies on how stalking is perceived remain limited, despite widespread implications for victims, support, and criminal justice.
Presented on April 20, 2023 at Student Research Day held at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta.
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