Examining Age and Gender Differences on Fear of Crime Essay

The current survey aimed to look into age and gender effects on fright of offense and their relationships with attitude towards captive and offense, life satisfaction, populating agreement and faith in a Chinese sample. 170 undergraduate and postgraduate pupils, with a average age of 21.9 old ages, participated in this survey. Participants were asked to finish a questionnaire on fright of offense. In general, adult females reported significantly greater fright of offense than work forces. A factor analysis was performed and two factors were extracted: “ fright of being cheated ” and “ fright of physical injury ” . An age-gender interaction consequence was found after commanding the variable of “ attitude towards captive ” . Results indicated that older females had higher degrees of fright of being cheated than males. Yet, gender and age differences in fright of fraud victimizations are a mostly undiscovered country. Additional research is needed to analyze how adult females ‘s fright of being cheated varies with age.


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Fear of offense has received considerable attending in the criminological surveies. Over the last few decennaries, research has been carried out to research how fright of offense is explained and handled by society. Information about fright of offense non merely assist us to understand and construe what fright of offense meant for persons and societies, but besides facilitate authorities to develop active programs to undertake populace ‘s fright. Anxieties about offense may take to behavioural version, e.g. taking safeguards against offense and avoiding certain topographic points. However, public anxiousnesss about offense may besides hold negative effects for the person and for society. For illustration, they may worsen the impact of offense by damaging an person ‘s quality of life or may impact the community by deteriorating a shared sense of trust, coherence, and societal control ( Jackson, 2006 ) .

The construct of fright of offense and its causing is widely examined in the criminological field, but there is a deficiency of understanding on the definition of ‘fear of offense ‘ . Fear of offense may affect two different constructs: an ‘evaluative ‘ constituent and an ’emotional ‘ constituent ( Skogen, 1984 ) . For case, Hollway and Jefferson ( 1997 ) referred offense fright as ‘irrational ‘ response in which the ‘rational, ciphering persons who routinely miscalculate their “ true ” hazard of offense ‘ ; whereas Ferraro ( 1995 ) suggested that fright of offense is ‘an emotional reaction of apprehension or anxiousness to offense or symbols that a individual associates with offense ‘ . Past research has identified a figure of factors which appear to do a part to fear, such as age, gender, race, exposure, neighbourhood coherence, personal cognition of offense and victimization, assurance in constabulary and condemnable justness systems, perceptual experience of hazard, and appraisal of offense earnestness ( Box, Hale and Andrews, 1988 ) . However, the current survey will concentrate chiefly on age and gender effects on fright of offense.

Gender and Age Effectss

It is well-documented that adult females are more fearful of going a victim of offense than work forces despite the fact that they are less frequently victimized by serious violent offense ( Pain, 2001 ; Fetchenhauer and Buunk, 2005 ) . Over the past decennaries, research workers have proposed different attacks to decide the “ fear victimization paradox ” : ( 1 ) hidden victimization of adult females ; ( 2 ) gender inclinations of adult females to remember victimization experience, and to generalise fright from one context to another ; ( 3 ) exposure of adult females ; and ( 4 ) male price reduction of fright. Most offense studies have shown that the degrees of force against adult females ( e.g. domestic force ) are far higher than work forces ; therefore it has been argued that adult females are non ‘irrationally ‘ fearful of offense. It is because adult females and aged under-report their existent victimization, and therefore they appear to be less exploited ( Pain, 2001 ) . However, some have suggested that adult females tend to ‘generalize ‘ the existent experience of victimization across spacial contexts than work forces ( Pain, 1995 ; Farraro, 1995 ) . Warr ( 1984 ) found that fright of sexual assault operated as a “ maestro discourtesy ” among adult females and their fright of sexual assault influenced fright of nonpersonal offenses, such as burglary. Yet, still others reported that males frequently discount their fright of offense ( Smith and Torstensson, 1997 ) . Previous literature has demonstrated that males are suppressed by the perceptual experience that it is non socially acceptable to show one ‘s fright ; and when work forces are being absolutely honest, they may really be more afraid of offense than adult females ( Sutton and Farrall, 2005 ) . On the other manus, the exposure hypothesis suggested that adult females are physically weaker than work forces and therefore they are less able to support themselves against ( typically male ) culprits. A considerable sum of surveies have besides shown that that gender difference in fright of offense frequently reflects gender difference in physical exposure ( e.g. Smith and Torstensson, 1997 ) .

Apart from gender, age is another of import factor that predicts fright of offense. However, the definition of aged varies across different surveies ( Chadee and Ditton, 2003 ) . For illustration, Sundeen and Mathieu ( 1976 ) defined aged as 52 old ages or supra, whereas Warr ( 1984 ) suggested 66 old ages and over. Yet the most common definition of “ old ” is aged 65 or supra. Since there has been no understanding on the definition of what constitutes “ old ” , assorted consequences were found on age. Some research workers argued that older people report higher degree of fright than immature people ( e.g. On and Kim, 2009 ) . In contrast, others suggested that aged people are less likely to be victimized and therefore they have the lowest degree of fright ( e.g. LaGrange and Ferraro, 1989 ; Chadee and Ditton, 2003 ) . On and Kim ( 2009 ) explained that older people ( aged 65 and over ) frequently experience a bead in societal webs ( e.g. backdown from work, loss of close household members, increasing physical and psychological breakability ) , and their societal isolation or feeling of solitariness intensifies fear of offense. Recently, it has been proposed that the relationship between fright of offense and age is non-linear and varies with offense type ( Moore and Shephred, 2007 ) . Past research has shown two different inverted U-shaped forms in fright of belongings loss and fright of personal injury. Fear of belongings offense peaked at some clip during middle-age, whereas fright of personal injury decreased with age ( Chadee and Ditton, 2003 ; Moore and Shepherd, 2007 ) . The oldest age group ( 75 or supra ) exhibited the lowest degrees of fright for both belongings offense and personal offense ( Chadee and Ditton, 2003 ) . Prior research has shown that gender and age frequently interact with one another in bring forthing the fright of offense differences ( Ortega and Myles, 1987 ; Haynie, 1998 ; Pain, 2001 ) . Significant gender differences in fright are observed among younger people. However, this gender-fear spread has narrowed as work forces ‘s reported fright of offense has bit by bit increased over clip while adult females ‘s has remained stable ( Haynie, 1998 ) .

Attitude towards captive and offense and life satisfaction

Much research on fright of offense has been focused on the perceived hazard of offense ; small is known about how people ‘s attitude towards captives and quality of life nexus to their fright of offense. Informal societal control, trust, and societal coherence are of import factors that contributed to the feelings of security ; hence, one might reason that fright of offense frequently reflects single ‘s life satisfaction and their perceptual experiences of societal control. Jackson ( 2006 ) puts frontward the position that ‘public attitudes toward offense rise cardinal sociological jobs but with a turn: public perceptual experiences of aberrance, societal order and societal control ‘ ( p.253 ) and he claimed that ‘public perceptual experiences of offense uncover how people conceive societal order ( including the norms, values, and ethical motives that bind communities and constitute societal gum ) and what they see as hostile to that societal ( possibly specific groups or wider societal alterations sing values and ethical motives, ethnicity diverseness, and transmutations in the political and economic spheres ) ‘ ( p.261 ) . Therefore, it has been suggested that high degrees of community efficaciousness, societal coherence, and a tight societal construction ( with low degrees of namelessness and misgiving ) might suppress fright of offense ( Farrall, Gray and Jackson, 2007 ) .

In the last decennaries, research workers have questioned the cogency of old surveies on fright of offense. LaGrange and Ferraro ( 1989 ) criticized that the experimental designs of old surveies were debatable. First, it has been suggested that steps of offense “ hazard ” are frequently mistaken for steps of offense “ fright ” . Second, several widely used offense study do non mensurate fright of “ offense ” , in which “ implicit ” inquiries are used in offense study to mensurate fright ( e.g. “ how safe do you experience or would you experience being out entirely in your vicinity at dark? ” ) alternatively of “ expressed ” inquiries. Hence, LaGrange and Ferraro ( 1989 ) have developed an 11-itemed offense fright study to get the better of the above defects. The current survey purposes to utilize LaGrange and Ferraro ( 1989 ) offense fright questionnaires to analyze gender and age effects on fright of offense in a Chinese sample.



A sum of 170 participants ( 77 males, 92 females and 1 without stipulating gender ) were recruited in this survey. The sample consisted of both undergraduates and graduate students. Participants aged from 18 to 48 year-old ( M = 21.94 ; SD = 4.07 ) . Descriptive statistics of the sample were presented in table 1.They joined this survey on a voluntary footing.


Attitudes towards Prisoners Scale ( Melvin, Gramling, & A ; Gardner, 1985 ) This graduated table contains 36 points. Participants were asked to rate on a 5-point Likert Scale, runing from 1 ( strongly disagree ) to 5 ( strongly agree ) . The graduated table had a satisfactory dependability degree, with overall alpha = .91.

Life Satisfaction Scale. Life Satisfaction Scale, a five-item-scale developed by Diener and his associates measured general satisfaction towards life ( Diener et al. , 1985 ; Larsen, Diener, & A ; Emmons, 1985 ; Pavot & A ; Diener, 1993 ) . It was validated locally ( Wang, Yuen, & A ; Slaney, 2009 ) . Participants were asked to rate the points on a 7-point Likert Scale, runing from 1 ( strongly disagree ) to 7 ( strongly agree ) . The overall alpha is satisfactory at.88.

Fear of Crime Scale ( Ferraro, 1996 ) The 10 points of this graduated table were rated on a 10-point Likert graduated table, raning from 1 ( non afraid at all ) to 10 ( really afraid ) .

Unlike the Attitude towards Prisoners Scale, the Fear of Crime Scale had non been validated locally, therefore prior to any analysis, a set of proof processs was performed.

First, two points that could non fit the current research intent were removed: while the point “ being raped or sexually assaulted ” was removed due to its gender nonequivalence, the point “ holding your auto stolen ” was besides removed because non many college pupils in Hong Kong owned their ain autos.

After taking the two points, the Kasier-Meyer-Oklin ( KMO ) and the Bartlett ‘s Test of Sphericity were performed to see if the originally factor construction could be employed in this survey. The KMO value of the eight points was 0.80 and the Bartlett ‘s Test of Sphericity was important ( p & lt ; . 001 ) , proposing that these points were factorable. Thus a chief constituent analysis ( with Varimax rotary motion ) was conducted. Using the standards of Cattell ‘s screen secret plan, two dimensions were found, each with an eigenvalue transcending 1, and could explicate 49.90 % and 25.69 % of the discrepancy severally. Dimension I contained 2 points that were related to the perceived fright of being cheated, and it was hence named Fear of Being Cheated. Dimension II contained 5 points that were related to perceived fright of being physically harmed, and therefore it was named fright of physical injury. The point “ Having your belongings damaged by vandals ” was excluded because it loaded on more than one factors. The overall alpha of the staying 7 points were.88.


Checking for Covariates

Based on old surveies, life satisfaction, faith, and life agreement are all possible covariates. In order to be classified as a covariate, these variables should correlate with a ) any of the independent variables ( age and gender ) and b ) any of the dependent variables ( entire fright of offense, fright of physical injury and fright of being cheated ) . Preliminary analyses indicated none of these variables satisfied the above conditions, so they would be excluded in subsequent analysis.

Testing of Hypothesis

Prior to analysis, all variables excepting gender were mean-centred. This was done to cut down any multicollinearity and to ease theoretical account appraisal when chief effects and synergistic effects were both present ( Aiken & A ; West, 1991 ) .

To compare the comparative influences of age and gender on entire fright of offense, fright of physical injury and fright of being cheated, three sets of hierarchal arrested development were performed. Attitude towards captives was foremost entered into the equation as a covariate, followed by age and gender ; the Age X Gender interaction term was entered afterwards.

Gender Difference in Fear of Crime: There was a chief consequence that gender had on all three types of offense fright, where female was ever significantly more fearful than male ( see Table 2 ) . See table 3 for the mean and standard divergence of the three dependant variables in each gender group.

Age Effect on Fear of Crime: While age positively correlated with fright of being cheated, no important correlativity was found between age and the other fright of offense concepts ( see Table 4 ) . Yet after commanding for attitude towards captive as the covariate, the prognostic power of age on fright of being cheated disappeared ( see Table 2 ) .

Age X Gender Interaction Effect on Fear of Crime: Significant Age X Gender interaction effects on entire fright of offense and fright of being cheated were found. However, such interaction consequence did non go on for fright of physical injury ( see Table 2 ) .

To farther look into these important interaction effects, two sets of hierarchal arrested development on entire fright of offense and fright of being cheated were performed after dividing the sample into male and female subgroups. Attitude towards captives was foremost entered into the equation as a covariate, followed by age.

After commanding for the covariate, age was no longer a forecaster of entire fright of offense for both gender groups. Yet for fright of being cheated, while it could be predicted by age for female ( I? = .14, P & lt ; .01 ) , it could non be accounted for by age in male ( see Table 5 ) .


The present survey aimed to look at age and gender effects on fright of offense and their relationships with attitude towards captive and offense, life satisfaction, populating agreement and faith in a Chinese sample. In general, adult females reported higher mean tonss on fright than work forces among all facets of offense, bespeaking that adult females were ever more afraid of offense than work forces irrespective of how fright of offense was measured. Womans in our sample besides reported that they were most afraid of “ being raped or sexually assaulted ” , followed by fright of “ being slaying ” and fright of “ being attacked by person with a arm ” . This form of consequences were in line with old findings that adult females were more fearful than work forces because they were peculiarly vulnerable to offense and were less able than work forces to support themselves physically ; hence, adult females perceived themselves to be at greater hazard of offenses than work forces ( LaGrange and Ferraro, 1989 ; Smith and Torstensson, 1997 ) . The consequences were besides consistent with old surveies that fright of sexual assault operated as a “ maestro discourtesy ” among adult females, which in bend heightened their fright of other victimizations, e.g. slaying, onslaughts, or burglary ( Ferraro, 1995 ) . On the other manus, fright of “ being slaying ” was most common among males, followed by fright of “ being attacked by person with a arm ” and fright of “ being raped or sexually assaulted ” . Interestingly, the current consequences replicated the findings of LaGrange and Ferraro ( 1989 ) in which work forces reported that they were afraid of being sexually assaulted ( presumptively by other work forces ) .

In the 2nd portion of the survey, a factor analysis was conducted to look into the relationship between gender and age of participants and their assorted offense perceptual experiences. Consequences of the present survey showed a gender consequence on fright of offense, in which adult females had significantly higher mark on entire fright of offense, fright of being cheated and fright of physical injury than work forces. These findings were consistent with old research in which females might hold lower threshold for fright than males. An evolutionary attack has been put frontward by research workers to explicate this gender difference in fright of offense ( e.g. Campbell, Muncer and Bibel, 2001 ; Fetchenhauer and Buunk, 2005 ; Sidebottom and Tilley, 2008 ) . In a Dutch survey, Fetchenhauer and Buunk ( 2005 ) showed that females were significantly more fearful than males when presented with scenarios ( both felon and non-criminal events ) that resulted in physical hurt, and they proposed that “ gender differences in fright of all sorts of events that involved physical hurt may be the consequence of sexual choice that favoured risk-taking and position battles among males, and being cautious and protecting one ‘s progeny among females ” ( p.111 ) .

The current survey besides found a important positive correlativity between age and fright of being cheated, proposing that older people were more afraid of being cheated than younger people. The consequence reflects the changing importance attached to material wealth with age: the costs of belongings loss might hold greater impact on middle-aged group since they are more likely to hold accumulated belongings and have dependent kids compared to younger age group ( Moore and Shepherd, 2007 ) . Based on informations derived from the 2001 British Crime Survey, Moore and Shepherd ( 2007 ) concluded that fright of belongings loss was greatest at around 40-60 old ages, peaked at around 45 old ages, whereas a lower degree of fright was observed at about 16-25 old ages. Another possibility for the age differences in fright might be due to socialisation. Past research has shown that socialisation may increase the sum of contacts with others, and therefore people who socialize more frequently may increase their likeliness of fraud victimization ( Van Wyk and Manson, 2001 ) . In a recent survey, Schoepfer and Piquero ( 2009 ) demonstrated that hazardous behavior and age were of import factors that predicted the likeliness of fraud victimization: persons who were unfastened to fiscal risk-taking and engaged in more hazardous behavior were more likely to be a victim of fraud ( e.g. free award fraud, recognition or bank history fraud and being billed for more than what the merchandise is deserving ) . It should besides be noted that “ older ” people in our sample are postgraduate pupils who might hold higher income and socialise more frequently and therefore they have greater chances to be victimized than “ younger ” people. Consequences in this survey besides showed that the relationship between age and fright of being cheated was influenced by person ‘s attitude towards captive. Since non much research has been done on fright of being cheated, more surveies are needed to look at the relationship between age and fright of misrepresentation. Nonetheless, no important correlativity was found between age and fright of physical injury, bespeaking that that age was non associated with degrees of fright of being physical injury.

Further analysis was performed in the following subdivision to look at gender and age effects on assorted concepts of fright. Significant gender-age interaction effects were found on entire fright of offense and fright of being cheated. After commanding the variable “ attitude towards captive ” , age was a important forecaster of fright of being cheated in females, but non in males. There was a positive correlativity between age and fright of being cheated among females, proposing that older females were more fearful of being victimized than males. This may be due in portion to the fact that personal victimization can hold more serious effects for adult females than work forces. Past research has indicated that offense fright involve both emotional and appraising constituents and it is shaped by the color of the image of offense and perceptual experiences of the badness of the effects of offenses, together with feelings of personal control and perceptual experiences of victimization likeliness ( Jackson, 2006 ) . It has been found that some victims of fraud may see more harmful long-run effects than those victimized by conventional offenses, and many of them continued to endure from enduring jobs with fundss, self-esteem, embarrassment, and self-blaming even ten old ages after the incidents ( Shover, Fox and Mills, 1994 ) . Recently, Schoepfer and Piquero ( 2009, p.210 ) argued that “ some fraud victimizations have even been equated to those of colza since both offense are seldom reported by victims and both involved victim facilitation, and inquiries of guilt and duty are the load of the victims ” ; hence, this makes females more fearful of being cheated than males. However, the current consequences did non back up some of the past findings on fright of fraud victimization. Assorted consequences were found in old surveies refering gender difference on fright of belongings loss. For case, LaGrange and Ferraro ( 1989 ) found no gender different on fright of being conned or swindled out of money and fright of being attack by a mendicant ; whereas Moore and Shepherd ( 2007 ) showed that work forces were more fearful than adult females of belongings loss. One of the possibilities for the disagreement in these findings might be due to the cultural difference in offense rates. Since fright of offense besides reflects existent offense rate in society, consequences in the present survey might besides propose that older adult females are more vulnerable to minor offenses, e.g. street or telephone misrepresentation, than work forces in the local country. Yet, no interaction consequence on fright of physical injury was found in this survey. Additional survey might be needed to look into how adult females ‘s fright of being cheated varies with age.

There are two possible restrictions in the current survey that should be taken into history. The first one relates to variables that were non included in the questionnaire, viz. the mass media consequence, offense prevalence and old victimization experience. Due to the restrictions of the criterion questionnaire used in the present survey, these factors were non included. It is well-established that the mass media plays an of import function in determining person ‘s attitude towards captive and the perceptual experience of offense and fright. Harmonizing to the Social Amplification of Risk Framework ( SARF ) , people may go to to information about condemnable activities from a series of “ amplified Stationss ” ( e.g. mass media and interpersonal communicating ) , and the hazard signals may interact with a broad scope of psychological, societal and cultural procedures in ways that intensity their existent hazards ( Kasperson et al. 2003 ) . Research workers have demonstrated that tabloid readers who have an extended degree of offense media exposure are about twice more likely to be worried than those who have limited exposure to offense beginning ( Smolej and Kivivuori, 2006 ) . Previous literature on media ingestion and public attitude toward offense has besides shown that wrongdoers are frequently portrayed as “ different ” from the general population and viewed as sociopaths that prey on weak and vulnerable victims ( Dowler, 2003 ) . Recently, Reiner ( 2008 ) argued that offense narratives frequently exaggerate the offense hazards faced by higher-status people and ever disproportionately stand foring adult females, kids, or older people as victims, and this might rise public ‘s fright of offense.

Over the past decennary, research workers have attempted to incorporate fright of offense into ‘macro ‘ and ‘micro ‘ degrees of analysis ( Ferraro, 1995 ; Jackson, 2004 ) . At the macro-level, populace ‘s fright of offense is related to offense prevalence in society and local communities ; whereas, at the micro-level, vicinity features and personal features ( e.g. old victimization experience, anxiousness and mundane concern ) may interact to bring forth differential perceptual experience of hazard which, in bend, produces either fearful or adaptative reactions to offense ( or both ) ( Farrall, Gray and Jackson, 2007 ) . In future research it might be interesting to analyze how these factors interact with age and gender to bring forth different degrees of fright of being cheated. The 2nd possible restriction is that the current findings could non be generalized into diverse civilizations with different age groups. In this survey, topics were undergraduates or graduate students recruited from a local university and they might hold similar age, background, populating state of affairs, and ethnicity ; hence, their offense experience will be likewise. In the hereafter survey, participants from assorted age groups and civilizations are needed in order to generalise the consequences outside the Chinese society.