Television consumption, fear of crime, and racial beliefs: Understanding the relationship between crime television viewing, fear of crime, and perceptions of races.

Jasmine Hu, Katherine Lai, Julianne Shearer, Christina Cvek

Abstract


The average American citizen has a myriad of fears, but the fear of death, especially through crime, tends to be at the forefront of many Americans’ minds. The prevalence of the media in today’s society has prompted many researchers to discover how much it influences the way we think. With the pervasive nature of both the fear of crime and the media, it is important to determine just how much sway television programs hold when it comes to viewers’ perceptions of races and fear of crime. The aim of this study was to identify how viewing crime shows contribute to people’s fear of crime and perception of different races. A nationwide sample of residents in the United States above age 18 was surveyed (N = 1,573). To identify fear of crime and perception of various races in connection with viewing certain television programs, correlational analyses were computed in order to determine whether there were any relationships. Results revealed a statistically significant positive relationship (p<0.01) between viewing crime shows and fear of crime. However, it was relatively weak (r=.15). There was no statistically significant relationship between viewing crime shows and perceptions of race. Consistent with prior research, viewing crime shows has a positive relationship with fear of crime. Contrary to prior research, there was surprisingly no relationship between viewing crime shows and perception of races.

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