Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Sociology (Applied), PhD

Committee Chair

Austin, D. Mark

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Roelfs, David

Committee Member

Kofman, Michal

Committee Member

Andreescu, Viviana

Author's Keywords

Fear of crime; campus-survey research; photography; factorial design


Vanessa LoBue (2013) states that the emotion of fear, “a signal of impending threat” (p. 38) is common among mammals. For over five decades, there has been substantial research into what in society, or our communities, makes us fearful. It is this author’s intention to examine how college students’ fear of crime or fear of victimization may be heightened or intensified by specific factors that are commonplace on college campuses and areas adjacent to those campuses. Nicole Rader (2004) argues that the fear of crime discourse needs to be expanded to a larger “construct” called “the threat of victimization” (p. 689). Rader suggests that research on fear of crime and perceptions of risk needs to include a third component, constrained behavior, such as engaging in self-protective tactics or limiting activities on or around campus. According to Rader, these three components are engaged in a relationship that is reciprocal, where each informs and impacts (cause and effect) “the threat of victimization”(p. 689). Jackson (2006) argues that “criminological literature reveals a body of knowledge that has struggled to clarify” (p. 254) the concept of risk, and subsequently found in his 2011 study that there was usefulness in demonstrating the difference between perceived likelihood, perceived consequence, and perceived control for risk, in worry about crime. This research, which began with my master’s thesis, will address some of the limitations disclosed in that research (Steinmetz, 2012) and the subsequent journal article (Steinmetz & Austin, 2013), regarding fear of victimization on a college campus, by utilizing photographs of nine specific locations on or near the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus in Louisville, KY. The nine photographs will answer some of the limitations noted by this author’s previous research, such as time of day, whether the space is occupied or not, and who is occupying that space. Other factors to be included in this research are the race and gender of those occupying the space in the photographs, as well as additional personal characteristics of the students responding to this research, such as, their race, gender, age, course load (e.g., part time or full time), housing status (live on/off/adjacent to campus), whether or not they have been a victim of crime (property and/or personal), and their level of involvement, outside of classes, on or around campus. Variation in those common-place factors such as time of day, open or occupied space(s), and specific locations, will be used to gauge respondents’ assessment of their “threat of victimization” (Rader, 2004.) According to prior research (Rader, 2017; May et. al. 2010; Jacobsen et al. 2020; Hignite & Naumann, 2018, Tomsich et al. 2011), these factors can play a role in the students’ assessment of their feelings regarding safety. The data for this survey was obtained through an online survey service (QuestionPro Online Survey). Working under the expectation that, at the time of this survey being conducted on the University of Louisville campus, the university was still adhering to the most current Covid-19 CDC pandemic protocols and guidelines. These protocols may have served to reduce the number of students, faculty, and staff on campus to help reduce community spread. This survey utilize the Factorial Experimental Design (FED) Methodology. This methodology, developed by Peter H. Rossi (1951), was specifically developed to “assess the judgement principles that underlie social norms, attitudes and definitions” (Auspurg & Hinz, 2014:1). The FED methodology’s impact on respondents allows stimuli resembling “real-world” evaluations and compels respondents to make better determinations of judgement principles that bring about evaluations of their fear of crime than do single-item questions (Auspurg & Hinz, 2014).

Included in

Sociology Commons