In the Shadows: Perceptions of In-Person, Phone & Cyberstalking


  • Mattise Gauthier MacEwan University


Previous research has found that our perceptions of stalking severity, threat, and prevalence do not align with the true nature and scope of these criminal behaviours. Further, our judgments are influenced by the type of stalking involved in a case (i.e., over the internet versus being followed in person) and who we believe the stalker to be. As such, the present study was designed to assess perceptions of stalking severity and dangerousness in relation to the type of stalking (in-person, phone, cyber), gender of the stalker (man versus woman), stalker-victim relationship (stranger, acquaintance, or ex-partner), and the type of threat (self or other-harm). Participants read a vignette detailing an individual at a coffee shop on campus that began to stalk the victim, the details of which varied according to our variables of interest. Participants also completed measures of personality, bias, and a judgment questionnaire to assess perceptions of severity, threat, and necessity of criminal justice intervention. We anticipate that the highest ratings of dangerousness/severity/threat will be associated with in-person stalking where the stalker is a man, a stranger, and threatens to harm the victim. However, police intervention may be sought more in the phone and cyber groups, where demonstrable proof of stalking could be obtained. This study has implications the manner in which criminal justice professionals interpret stalking and criminal harassment.

Department: Psychology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kristine Peace