Investigating Fear of Crime

  • Bruce J. Doran
  • Melissa B. Burgess
Part of the Springer Series on Evidence-Based Crime Policy book series (SSEBCP)


This chapter reviews the literature on how fear of crime is defined and investigated with an aim to informing a spatial approach to the issue. It begins with an overview of how, or indeed whether, researchers define fear of crime, and covers some of the conceptual confusion that can arise from different approaches. Also discussed are the different elements of the term ‘fear of crime’ – how the ‘fear’ in ‘fear of crime’ is generally seen by researchers as either an emotional reaction or a cognitive assessment, how fear is distinct from other emotions and why this distinction is important. It is also evident that the ‘crime’ in ‘fear of crime’ is subject to contention and that measurement varies relative to the definition of crime that is adopted. An interim synopsis outlines the lack of methodological consistency that dominates the field in terms of approaches to measuring fear of crime. The chapter then covers the three major approaches used by criminologists studying fear of crime – namely cognitive, affective and behavioural measures – and how each approach can change the operational definition of fear of crime. The concluding section provides a justification for behavioural research and the potential contribution of using GIS as a means of ‘putting fear on the map’.


Geographic Information System Avoidance Behaviour Global Measure Property Crime Drug Dealer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fenner School of Environment & Society, The Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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