Manual Fear of Crime: Critical Voices in an Age of Anxiety

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But while invalid engines always came these devices to sign an resourceful download fear of crime in mating legibility, private sent the seminal character to have the benefits of this town. This, I started, were their format to understand the plane of these leaders. Moreover, the employed situations are much more specific than those used in previous experimental ageing studies in the induction of fear. Second, situations were addressed that are situated in everyday life to capture situations that could be experienced by young and old adults with equal probability if old adults did not try to avoid such situations out of fear.

Third, we wanted to test whether more situational fear across various situations as reflecting dispositional fear is related to more precautious behaviour, thereby mediating the positive relationship between age and precautious behaviour. Fourth, we used different age groups for comparison but utilised the same procedure to explore the boundaries of age differences. Usually in applying the vignette technique emotional situations are compared with a neutral situation.

Instead, we varied each vignette in two levels of threat intensity threat level 1 and 2 with the higher number indicating higher threat by varying only one aspect per vignette, for example, noon versus night, with versus without partner, streetlamps versus no streetlamps. These factors have also been found to be differently associated with the evocation of fear e.

Fisher and Nasar ; Jorgensen et al. The higher threatening version was designed to leave some ambiguity regarding the perception of actual threat. We used this design for two reasons. First, it is difficult to create a suitable neutral situation that could serve as a comparison condition and fit equally well for younger and older adults. Even if there was a comparable neutral situation, it could be problematic to compare responses to emotional stimuli with non-emotional stimuli.

Second, demand characteristics are one of the problems inherent in emotion induction methods. Even if one chose a within -subject design with pre- and post-induction measurement, younger and older adults could be differentially prone to report feelings of fear, thereby confounding age group differences in fear response with differences in demand characteristics.

By varying threat level between -subjects per vignette, demand characteristics if they play a role are given for both conditions. If there are differences in response to the threat level, they should not be due to demand characteristics because all subjects are asked to imagine themselves in potentially threatening scenarios. However, using such a design raises questions regarding the relation between dispositional fear on the one hand and the intensity of a threatening situation on the other hand. This question has not yet received much attention as mostly responses to neutral situations are compared to emotion inducing situations.

According to Marshall and Brown and Schmitt et al. They describe behaviour as the interplay between person and situation factors. While no state differences between people with low and high disposition e. This is because interpreting the situation is uncertain in this case, and therefore, inter-individual differences in sensitivity for cues play a larger role.

Marshall and Brown assume no differences in situational response between people with low and high disposition in highly provocative situations e. In contrast, Schmitt et al. Moreover, they suggest that inter-individual differences in situational response reflecting dispositional differences can already be observed at lower levels of situational provocation, although not as large as at moderate levels of situational provocation.

Both models have yet to be established further and empirically validated. This results in a nonlinear relationship between disposition and situational response as it is moderated by situational factors. Accordingly, it was hypothesised that no significant age-related differences will be observed for the affective and cognitive facet of fear of crime.

However, significant age group differences will be observed for the behavioural facet of fear of crime. This would demonstrate that the middle-aged and young-old age group behave more cautiously than the young one. Moreover, significant age group differences are hypothesised for the question concerning neighbourhood safety with older adults indicating less safety than young adults.

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Together, these results ensure comparability of our samples with previous studies that employed these measures. In this study, we wanted to test whether dispositional fear of crime is larger in older than in young adults, which would be exemplified in older adults experiencing situational fear faster and more intense than young adults across a variety of situations.

The higher threatening version was assumed to evoke more situational fear than the lower threatening version. In accord with the considerations of Marshall and Brown and Schmitt et al. Moreover, we wanted to examine whether the difference in situational fear mediates the positive relationship between age and the behavioural facet of fear of crime. Because a similar methodology was used in both studies, methodology is divided into three sections. These include a combined general methodology, Study 1 participants and results and Study 2 participants and results.

Perceived neighbourhood safety was measured with the question: The facets of fear of crime scales were measured using items that were employed in previous studies e. The affective facet of fear of crime was operationalised as the frequency of experiencing fear with regard to eleven specific offences i. The cognitive facet was measured by assessing the probability of becoming a victim of specific offences same as aforementioned on a 4-point scale ranging from very unlikely 1 to very likely 4.

One item was excluded from further analysis: Participants were able to indicate when a specific behaviour did not apply. The vignette situations were first created after collecting ideas from focus groups i. Two vignettes were slightly modified for Study 2 to render them more applicable to older adults. Each vignette had two versions that only differed in one detail entailing a different threat value i. We chose scenarios that depicted places that young, middle-aged, and young-old adults could seek out in principle i.

Some scenarios were more open to the interpretation of physical threat e. Each vignette situation only differs in one threat aspect. In parentheses stand the threat level 1 content of the vignettes. The difference of the vignette in Study 1 compared with Study 2 is shown in brackets. Participants were firstly instructed to read each vignette thoroughly and try to imagine the scenario in real life. This was included as the extent that individuals are able to relate to the story is a personality factor that may influence the effectiveness of the vignettes Westermann et al.

In the third stage of the task, participants were instructed to indicate, using a 7-point scale i. Those items were chosen that shared face validity with the fear construct and added five items related to fear to enhance scale properties e.

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Three items from the State Anxiety Scale were keyed in a positive direction and reverse coded for analyses so that higher values on all items indicate higher situational fear. Scales were created by calculating the mean across the eleven statements for each vignette separately. The questionnaire was divided into three parts. The first part asked for the basic demographic information i.

The second part of the measure included the five vignettes. These described everyday situations that had the potential to induce fear of becoming a victim of crime. Each participant read five vignettes, each of them being one of the two versions of a vignette i.

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The five vignettes alternated within subjects in their sequence between threat level 1 in one vignette and threat level 2 in the next, i. In the third part of the task, subjects answered questions regarding the non-situational measures of fear of crime affective, cognitive, and behavioural facet of fear of crime. First, the effect of age group on the affective, cognitive, and behavioural facet of fear of crime as well as neighbourhood safety were tested employing four t tests.

In order to test the hypotheses with regard to situational fear of crime, 2 age group: Gender was included as covariate as it has been shown to be an influential factor in prior fear studies with women indicating more fear than men cf. Hale ; review on gender: Moreover, story relation served as covariate.

Self-reported situational fear was the dependent variable in each vignette. The partial eta squares representing the portion of explained variance in the dependent variable are reported for each significant effect. The following eta squares correspond with small.


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Participants were for example family members, friends, neighbours or passersby in a pedestrian precinct. The questionnaire was handed out to subjects in various settings e. Questionnaires could be given back immediately after answering or send back to university. The setting varied individually; however, because we randomly administered the different versions, this should not affect the differential age and threat effects systematically.

In the first step, we conducted four t tests with age group as independent factor and the affective, cognitive and behavioural facet of fear of crime as well as neighbourhood safety as dependent variables. Overall, the results of the non-situational measures demonstrate comparability with prior research results. Means, standard deviation and range in non-situational measures of fear of crime and perceived neighbourhood safety for young and middle-aged adults in Study 1 and young and old adults in Study 2 theoretical range: Situational fear was higher in the more threatening scenario in each case car breakdown: Mean values in situational fear of crime for each vignette for younger and older adults in Study 1 and Study 2.

Age group differences were obtained in two vignettes park: Contrary to hypothesis, younger adults exhibited more situational fear than middle-aged participants park: Across all vignettes women indicated higher situational fear than men. Story relation showed significant influences on situational fear in the park, home and market vignette. Subjects who were better able to relate to the story showed higher situational fear; this effect was independent from age.

Error bars indicate one standard error above and below the mean. Two hundred forty-three adults were recruited in Lower Saxony, Germany, in January young: A broad spectrum of participants was represented in the sample. Younger participants included students, technical and administrative employees at the university, pupils, apprentices and employees at social welfare offices. Older participants were recruited from choirs, sports clubs and facilities for further education.

Questionnaires were handed out to subjects in various settings e. Questionnaires could be given back immediately after completion or sent back to university at a time of their convenience. As in Study 1, we conducted four t tests with the facets of fear of crime and neighbourhood safety as dependent variables and age as factor divided into two groups young vs.

As hypothesised, there was no significant difference between the age groups with regard to the affective and cognitive facet affective: Supporting hypotheses, older adults differed significantly from younger adults with regard to precautious behaviour and perceived neighbourhood safety behavioural facet: Mirroring Study 1, 2 age group: The threat manipulation was efficient in two vignettes car breakdown: In each of those vignettes, the more threatening scenario elicited a higher value of situational fear car breakdown: Older adults indicated more fear of crime than young adults only in the higher threatening vignette version.

Based on these results, the hypothesis of higher situational fear in the older age group seems to be at least partly supported. Moreover, although not significantly different for the two age groups, young adults exhibited also greater situational fear in the park vignette than older adults, which mirrored the results of Study 1. Again, being able to relate to the story had an influence on the bus stop, park, and home vignette independent from age.

The better a participant could relate to the scenario the higher was situational fear of crime. Moreover, as in Study 1, women indicated more situational fear across all vignettes but the market scenario. As outlined above, one potential explanation for the more frequent precautious behaviours of older adults consists in an increased disposition to experience situational fear, which leads to preventive behaviours to avoid such situations.

Higher dispositional fear would be exemplified by higher situational fear across various situations. As could be seen, old age was not associated with generally more situational fear. However, more frequent precautious behaviour in older age could be driven by various specific situational fears with differing weights i. Hence, we conducted a path analysis to test the hypothesis that the effect of age on precautious behaviour is mediated by vignette-specific situational fear on mediation cf.

MacKinnon and Fairchild We first saved the z-standardised residuals after regressing situational fear on the threat manipulation for each vignette. The more situational fear a person indicated, the more precautionary measures the person reported. Precautious behaviour was regressed on age effect coded: The age effect on precautious behaviour is not affected by the inclusion of the residuals of situational fear 1st step: Age and gender effect coded age: The aim of the present studies was to assess the extent that increasingly precautious behaviours observed with age were associated with an aged-related increase in dispositional fear as exemplified by higher situational fear responses across various situations.

To assess this hypothesis, situational fear was evoked using the vignettes technique. This represents an extension on previous research as more contextualised and self-relevant threat scenarios were utilised.

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In the second step, it was investigated whether age-related differences in the behavioural facet of fear of crime are mediated by age-related differences in situational fear. A mixed result pattern was obtained concerning situational fear. While the middle-aged group did not show more situational fear in any vignette in Study 1, the young-old age group indicated more situational fear in the lower threatening version of the car breakdown vignette in Study 2 and also in the bus stop vignette if one applied a less restrictive significance criterion than the young age group.

This result provides some support for the hypothesis that young-old adults experience more situational fear than young adults, but middle-aged do not. However, the finding of younger adults indicating more situational fear than middle-aged adults in the home and park scenario in Study 1 and to some extent than older adults in Study 2 complicate the picture. It appears that there is no general direction of difference in situational fear of crime between age groups.

Bridging the social and the psychological in the fear of crime

As dispositional fear of crime was defined as a higher propensity to experience situational fear across a variety of situations, this suggests that there is no age-related difference in dispositional fear. This is also reflected in the findings when referring them to the conception of Marshall and Brown and Schmitt et al. If older adults had higher dispositional fear, age differences should be most pronounced at moderate levels of situational fear compared with lower levels of fear.

Inspecting the levels of situational response across the different situations and their respective versions see Fig. While there were no age differences at relatively low levels of situational fear market scenario , older adults reported higher situational fear than young adults at the low level of situational fear in the car breakdown scenario as well as at a moderate threat level high threat level version of bus stop scenario. In contrast, at moderate situational fear levels of other scenarios, there was either no age difference obtained or younger adults reported more situational fear than middle-aged and older adults.

Accordingly, the more frequent precautious behaviour of older participants is not mirrored in generally higher situational fear. Despite this finding, it maybe argued that specific fear could be related to more precautious behaviour. However, situational fear in vignettes, where older adults indicated more fear, also did not explain the age-related difference in precautious behaviour although these fear residuals were positively related to precautious behaviour.

In sum, these results imply that the account for an increase in precautious behaviour due to an age-related difference in dispositional fear is not tenable. Concurring, the overall positive relationship between situational fear of crime indicators and precautious behaviour provides support for a meaningful relationship between situational fear as measured with the vignettes and precautious behaviour. Yet, the age-related increase in the behavioural facet of fear of crime can neither be explained by a change in dispositional fear nor by specific age-related differences in situational fear.

In contrast, our results corroborate recent findings of developmental emotion psychology research in that age group differences in emotional reactivity depend on the specific stimulus material used e. In our studies, we found that younger adults reported higher levels of situational fear than middle-aged and young-old adults in some situations and young-old adults reported more situational fear in other situations.

This result highlights the importance of embedding emotional stimuli within contexts that are relevant for both age groups in future studies. In this regard, it is important to question what those situations entail for different age groups. The specification of fear of crime as a general construct does not reflect age-related differences in terms of the perception of the situation and resultant situational fear.