Fear of
crime exists outside the realms of societal pretences and instead is a
condition embedded within the human psyche. Levels of crime and security within
any society are obvious predictors for levels of fear of crime, further
predictors are factors such as past experiences, demographic factors, and the
perception of insecurity; which as of recently has emerged as a social
problem.  Jean Baudrillard’s theory of
hyperreality is one which will be closely considered in the answering of the
question posed in the title. Fear of crime and hyperreality are associated in
that Surette (1998) put forward that fiction is closer to news than to reality,
this statement being founded upon a study performed by Mandel (1984) which
determined that between 1945 and 1984 over 10 billion crime thrillers were
produced. Cultivation theory is most
often used to explain the effects of exposure to certain media and was
introduced in the 1970s by George Gerbner. Gerbner’s research concluded that
heavy exposure to media content could over an extended time period influence
individuals attitudes and behaviour towards being “more consistent with the
world of television programs than with the everyday world” (Chandler 1995). Results taken
from Dowler (2003) indicate that “viewing crime shows is significantly related
to fear of crime and perceived police effectiveness.” Dowler goes onto mention
that regular crime drama viewers are more likely to “hold negative attitudes
toward police effectiveness, although “regular viewers of crime shows are more
likely to fear or worry about crime. Similarly, regular crime drama viewers are
more likely to hold negative attitudes toward police effectiveness, although a
bivariate analysis indicated that newspapers as primary source of crime news
and hours of television viewing are not significantly related to fear of crime,
punitive attitudes or perceived police effectiveness.”


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