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Fear of crime as a way of thinking, feeling and acting: an integrated approach to measurement and a theoretical examination of psychological distance and risk construal

Gouseti, Ioanna (2016) Fear of crime as a way of thinking, feeling and acting: an integrated approach to measurement and a theoretical examination of psychological distance and risk construal. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.k8npmo0fx6rt

Abstract

This thesis constitutes a criminological study of the fear of crime as a public reaction to crime and victimization. Its key objectives are to enhance the theorization of the fear of crime, and to develop an integrated methodological approach to its empirical exploration. To achieve the former, the construal-level theory of psychological distance (CLT) is applied to the study of the fear of crime. To achieve the latter, observational and experimental methodologies are combined to evaluate empirically the research hypotheses. The starting premise of the CLT approach to the fear of crime is that people do not often experience crime directly in their daily lives as victims; yet, they are capable of expressing reactions to the risk of crime. The current thesis explores cognitive processes that help transcend the ‘crime-free’ ‘here and now’ to enable experience and expression of fear of crime reactions to the distal event of crime. Based on the CLT, two such processes are examined. First, psychological distance from crime, which relates to how far in time, space, social distance and probability, crime is psychologically experienced to occur. Second, crime construal, which relates to the abstractness or concreteness of mental representations of crime. Overall, the findings indicate that experiencing crime as psychologically distant, and mentally representing it abstractly rather than concretely ‘cool off’ fear of crime reactions. One of the main theoretical implications of the current work is that adopting a theory-driven interdisciplinary perspective in the study of the fear of crime improves its theorization. The key methodological implication is that such a perspective renders plausible the use of integrated research. The key policy implication of this work is that its findings can be conducive to the development of public discourses of crime and justice, crime-related narratives and strategies for the public communication ofcrime that keep people informed about crime, but ‘free from fear’.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Ioanna Gouseti
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Sets: Departments > Methodology
Supervisor: Jackson, Jon
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3533

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