Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

The Development and Validation of an Indirect Measure of Celebrity Stalking

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

The Development and Validation of an Indirect Measure of Celebrity Stalking

Article excerpt

The Obsessive Relational Intrusion and Celebrity Stalking scale, a new measure of the tendency to stalk celebrities, is described in the present study. The scale was shown through factor analysis to have two subscales, labeled "persistent pursuit" and "threat." It has adequate reliability and validity, and perhaps because it is indirect, it is almost completely free of social desirability bias.

Although a precise definition that everyone can agree on appears to be elusive (Davis & Frieze, 2000), stalking generally refers to repeated harassment, which may or may not be accompanied by threat of bodily harm. Stalking typically consists of these four elements: repeated attempts to establish a close relationship (e.g., presenting gifts), nonconsensual communication (e.g., making repeated telephone calls) malice on the part of the stalker (e.g., assault), and behavior deemed threatening by the stalker's victim (e.g., any behavior causing fear of bodily harm; Meloy & Gothard, 1995; Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). Stalking behaviors have existed for centuries, but it was not until the 1990s, after several high profile cases, that stalking began to attract considerable attention (Dennison & Thomson, 2002). Several instruments have since been developed to measure stalking victimization (Davis, Ace, & Andra, 1998; Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Palarea, Cohen, & Rohling, 2000; Logan, Leukefeld, & Walker, 2000; Sinclair & Frieze, 2000; Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998), although stalking behavior by perpetrators has been less commonly studied. Most stalking instruments are intended to study stalking in the context of a personal relationship, or former relationship. Celebrity stalking, which occurs when a famous victim does not have a personal relationship with the stalker, has rarely been investigated. The present study examines the reliability and validity of the Obsessive Relational Intrusion and Celebrity Stalking scale, which was created to measure celebrity stalking from the perpetrator's point of view.

Media attention devoted to stalking in the 1990's was followed by a spate of scientific studies (see Dye & Davis, 2003 as a recent example), and the need for psychometrically sound measures of stalking behavior. Davis and Frieze (2000) compared six scales developed in the late nineties and showed that they tended to assess similar behaviors. For example, almost all of them contained items designed to determine the frequency of spying, following, sending notes, making unwanted phone calls, and sending gifts (Cupach & Spitzberg, 1998; Davis, et al., 1998; Langhinrichsen-Rohling, et al., 2000; Logan, et al., 2000; Sinclair & Frieze, 2000; Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998).

Five of the six instruments were designed to measure stalking behaviors from the victim's point of view (e.g., the stalker "asked others about you" or "followed you"), perhaps because researchers thought that victims would be more honest than perpetrators when reporting stalking behavior. The exception was the Courtship Persistence Inventory (CPI; Sinclair & Frieze, 2000), which measured the self-reported frequency of stalking behaviors in the perpetrator. The Unwanted Pursuit Behavior Inventory (UPBI; Langhinrichsen-Rohling, et al., 2000) and the Obsessive Relational Intrusion scale (ORI-P, Cupach & Spitzberg, 1998), have been slightly modified to study stalking from both the perpetrator's and the victim's perspective. It is necessary to study stalking from the victim's perspective, but it is equally important to measure stalking from the perpetrator's viewpoint, given the obvious need for people to identify potential stalkers (Schell & Lanteigne, 2000).

Examining stalking from the point of view of a perpetrator may introduce social desirability bias. Social desirability bias occurs when respondents, faced with the choice between being honest and hiding some socially unpleasant truths, choose to make themselves look good at the expense of honesty. …

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