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Journal Article

Victimization and Its Consequences for Well-Being : A Between- and Within-Person Analysis


Oberwittler,  Dietrich
Criminology, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law, Max Planck Society;

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Janssen, H. J., Oberwittler, D., & Koeber, G. (2020). Victimization and Its Consequences for Well-Being: A Between- and Within-Person Analysis. Journal of Quantitative Criminology. doi:10.1007/s10940-019-09445-6.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-6EAE-D
Objectives: We examined the effects of victimization on several aspects of well-being in a longitudinal study of a general population sample. Previous research has often been inconclusive, as it was largely based on cross-sectional data and prone to problems of unobserved heterogeneity and selection bias. We examined both between-person differences and within-person changes in well-being in relation to property and violent victimization. We investigated psychological and behavioral dimensions of well-being, controlling for and comparing with the effects of other negative life events.

Methods: We used data from a two-wave panel survey of 2928 respondents aged 25–89 nested in 140 neighborhoods in two large German cities. We applied random-effects modeling to separate between-person from within-person effects.

Results: The within-person detrimental effects of victimization were considerably smaller than between-person effects, which reflected preexisting, time-stable factors that distinguish individuals who have experienced victimization from individuals who have not. Detrimental effects concerned fear of crime, generalized trust, and neighborhood satisfaction, but did not extend to emotional well-being or life satisfaction, in contrast to other negative life events. We found empirical support both for adaptation (‘recovery’) effects as well as for anticipation effects. Violent victimization had stronger effects than property victimization, and victimization near the home had stronger effects than victimization elsewhere.

Conclusion: The findings indicate that violent victimization has palpable detrimental effects on security perceptions, trust and neighborhood satisfaction—but not on emotional well-being and life satisfaction—and that individuals largely recover from the victimization within 18 months.