Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Criminal Justice

Degree Program

Criminal Justice, PhD

Committee Chair

Andreescu, Viviana

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Hughes, Thomas

Committee Member

Hughes, Thomas

Committee Member

Swartz, Kristin

Committee Member

Carini, Robert

Author's Keywords

Fear of crime; media consumption; perception of safety; perceived risk of victimization


Although there is a robust body of research examining various predictors of fear of crime, there are still predictors of one’s perceived safety that have not been thoroughly assessed. Using primary data collected from a sample of college students (N = 662) enrolled at five universities in the United States the main objective of the study was to identify the factors more likely to predict variations in fear of crime, which is viewed here as a bidimensional concept that includes the affective side of fear (worries about becoming a victim) and the cognitive dimension of fear (i.e., personal judgment of safety). The study is informed by theoretical explanations of fear of crime (Ferraro, 1995; see Hale, 1996) and by Gerbner’s (1969) cultivation theory. In addition to frequently used predictors of fear of crime, such as social vulnerability, crime victimization experience, and public attitudes toward the police, this dissertation explores the impact of traditional and social media consumption on one’s perceived risk of victimization and fear of crime. The study also assessed the effect of membership in social media police scanner groups on variations in perceived safety. Those who are members of a social media police scanner groups can view and read about various types of violent and property crimes before the public is informed. Yet, to the author’s knowledge, the potential effect of police scanner membership/subscription on fear of crime has not been examined in the literature and research assessing the impact of social media on perceived risk of victimization is limited. By examining the effect of novel predictors of fear of crime (e.g., social media consumption; police scanner usage), the dissertation expanded fear of crime research. The data were analyzed using a simple mediation analysis that used perceived risk of victimization as a mediator. Results show that those who worry more about becoming victims of violent crime also tend to feel unsafe in their neighborhoods. As hypothesized, victims of crime, females, younger respondents, and students belonging to racial/ethnic minority groups tend to worry significantly more about becoming victims of violent crime and report higher levels of perceived unsafety. Conversely, those with positive perceptions of the police are less likely to fear victimization. While traditional media consumption does not appear to influence variations in perceived risk of victimization and/or perceived safety, social media consumption as well as membership in social media police scanner groups indirectly increase one’s fear of crime. The study limitations and the implications of the findings are also discussed.