Copycat Crime Dynamics: The Interplay of Empathy, Narrative Persuasion and Risk With Likelihood to Commit Future Criminality

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Abstract

Prior research on media and violence suggests that youths with low empathy and high sensitivity to narrative persuasion are at particular risk of criminogenic media. The motivation to copycat behavior and level of risk criminality are predictors of the likelihood to commit future criminality (LCFC). This study assesses the relationship among empathy, narrative persuasion, risk, media influence, need for cognition (NFC), copycat motivation, and the LCFC. Utilizing a sample of 373 respondents across three categories, detention center, high- and low-risk schools (Mage = 16.5, SD = 1.6), face to face interviews were conducted with a standardized questionnaire. Findings from a structural equation model (SEM) indicate that risk and copycat motivation have the strongest positive direct relationship with LCFC. Empathic concern and narrative persuasion were inversely and positively related, respectively, to copycat motivation. Findings are discussed in context of their implications and past research.

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