Sad and Exposed, Angry and Resilient?: Effects of Crime Victims’ Emotional Expressions on Perceived Need for Support

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Crime victims may respond emotionally to victimization in a multitude of ways. However, little is known about how people use victims’ emotional expressions to draw inferences about their psychological status and needs. In two experiments (total N = 340), participants were presented with a victim who reacted to a crime with either anger or sadness. Additionally, victim gender (Experiment 1) and presentation modality (text, video, or audio; Experiment 2) were manipulated. Male, but not female, victims were perceived to have a stronger need for social support when expressing sadness as opposed to anger. The effect was mediated by the fact that victims expressing sadness (vs. anger) were perceived as warmer. Moreover, the effect was consistent across presentation modalities. The results show that victim gender and differences between distinct emotions need to be taken into account to understand the social consequences of victims’ emotional expressions.

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