Stalking & Hate Crimes
Within the realm of criminal justice and psychology, Dr. Sinclair primarily focuses on research within two topics: stalking and hate crimes. Both of these interests grew out of initial research interests in violence the primarily targets women (e.g., rape, battering). However, it is on these two topics that she presently focuses.
Her stalking research focuses on three main questions:
1) What are the predictors of stalking behavior?
2) What are people’s perceptions – including those of legal agents – of stalking?
3) How does our culture (e.g., media, social norms) contribute to both the perceptions and the behavior?
For example, in a recent experiment, they found that rejection – in particular rejection that threatens one’s positive self-image (i.e., by blaming the rejected person for why the relationship is ending) – can trigger stalking behavior especially when one has been depleted of self-regulation resources (their ability to engage in self-control). In contrast, a rejection that aims to “let the person down easy” (e.g., “it’s not you, it’s me”) is less likely to trigger aggressive responses to a relationship breakup.
Also notable, individual difference variables, such as being high in Likelihood to Stalk or Stalking Myth Endorsement (both scales we have developed), can exacerbate reactions to ego-threatening rejection.
In other research, Dr. Sinclair and her team have been engaging in an extensive Media Coding project to examine how the media portrays unwanted relationship pursuits. They find that, generally, the media provides a script of persistence in the face of rejection. Further, persistence is often portrayed as positive, successful, amusing, and secretly what the love interest really wants (despite what s/he says) – especially when the pursuer is male. Our next step is to examine what impact these pervasive media messages have on actual stalking behaviors and perceptions of stalking cases.
Publications of interest:
Sinclair, H. C. (forthcoming). Courtship in the Courts: Stalking and the cultural construction of romance. Blackwell-Wiley.
Sinclair, H. C., Collier, K. E., & Sheridan, L. E. (forthcoming). A tangled web: Social network involvement in stalking incidents.
Sinclair, H. C. & MacArthur, J. R. (forthcoming). Scripting stalking: The romantic comedy of popular media portrayals of unwanted pursuits.
Ladney, R. T., Sinclair, H. C., & Lyndon, A. (under review). Self regulation and rejection: Effects on Obsessive Relational Intrusion.
Sinclair, H. C. & Lyndon, A. (under review). Stalking in the courts: An archival examination of legal outcomes in stalking cases.
Sinclair, H. C. (2010). Stalking myth-attributions: Examining the role of individual and contextual variables on judgments of unwanted pursuit scenarios. Sex Roles.
Williams, S, Frieze, I. H., & Sinclair, H. C. (2007). Stalking and intimate violence. In J. Hamel & T. Nicholls (Eds.), Family Therapy for Domestic Violence: A practitioner’s guide to gender-inclusive research and treatment (pp. 109-123). New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Sinclair, H. C. & Frieze, I. H. (2005). When courtship persistence becomes intrusive pursuit: A comparison of rejecter and pursuer perspectives of unrequited attraction. Sex Roles, 52, 839-852.
Sinclair, H. C. & Frieze, I. H. (2000). Initial courtship behavior and stalking: How should we draw the line? Violence and Victims, 15(1), 23-40.
Hate Crime Research
Dr. Sinclair’s hate crimes research has primarily focused on:
1) What attitudes do people hold about hate crime policy?
2) Why is there so much difficulty in applying the hate crime label to instances of gender-motivated bias crime?
This domain of research is a newer avenue. Thus far, they have primarily focused on the difficulty people have with seeing any prejudicial motives as underlying crime against women. The goal of the research is to find what factors inhibit labeling of gender-motivated hate crimes. For example, the 2009 shooting of multiple women in Bridgeville, PA by George Sodini was not labeled a hate crime by many, and yet, Sodini was known for his hatred of women and had the attack targeted any other demographic (e.g., race, sexual orientation, religion), there wouldn’t have been any hesitation to applying the hate crime label. They apply the Prototype Model to potentially explain the lack of clarity surrounding gender-motivated bias crimes.
Publications of interest:
Sinclair, H. C., Borgida, E., & Peery, D. (under review). Gender and bias crimes: Examining the influence of prototypes on lay perceptions of hate crimes.
Sinclair, H. C. & Hertl, J.T. (2010). Gender-motivated bias crimes: Examining why situational variables are important in the labeling of hate crimes. In C. T. Lockhardt (Ed.), The Psychology of Hate (pp. 1-34). Hauppage, NY: Nova Science Publishers.