Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Criminal Justice

Content Description

1 online resource (ix, 113 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Justin T Pickett

Committee Members

Theodore Chiricos, Steven Messner, Theodore Wilson


Crime, Crime prevention, Fear of crime, Mass media and crime

Subject Categories



In the U.S. the public is persistent in believing in worsening crime trends, despite the fact that the crime rate has been falling since the early 1990s. This dissertation is a comprehensive examination of the measurement, perceived causes, and behavioral consequences of crime trend perceptions. It is composed of three interrelated studies. The first step to understanding crime trend perceptions is to have accurate measurement. In the first study, I identify the limitations of existing measurement of crime trend perceptions and argue that it is important to measure perceptions of short-term and long-term crime trends separately. Using three samples, I describe and test three new approaches to measuring crime trend perceptions with more accuracy. The results suggest that perceptions of crime trends vary depending on the referencing time frame used in the survey question. Respondents are more likely to perceive worsening crime trends in the short term than in the long term. More research is needed to explore the best approaches to measuring crime trend perceptions.

Included in

Criminology Commons