Fear vs Anger — How We Respond to Crime

Andrew Baranauskas, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, co-authored a paper in the journal Crime, Law and Social Change on anger about crime.

The paper “Anger versus fear about crime: How common is it, where does it come from, and why does it matter?” was authored by Dr. Kevin Drakulich of Northeastern Universtity and Dr. Andrew Baranauskas from the SUNY Brockport Department of Criminal Justice.  


While a long history of scholarship has explored fear as an affective reaction to the prospect of crime, a much smaller number of studies have suggested that anger may be both more common and more predictive of punitive policy views (e.g. Ditton et al. 1999; Johnson, 2012). This difference matters in that fear and anger imply different stories: fear can be personal while anger necessarily draws our attention to social meanings and connects to broader issues like race relations and racism. We use a nationally representative survey conducted by the ANES to verify what we already know and then ask new questions about the potential sources and other potential consequences of anger about crime. While personal victimizations are associated with fear, victimizations of acquaintances are associated with anger. Anger appears rooted in both racial resentment and the racial context. In turn, while the fearful are supportive of a wide range of approaches to addressing social problems, the angry are only more supportive of crime spending and in fact oppose social assistance spending. Implications for research on affective reactions to crime and for crime-relevant policies are discussed.

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Andrew Baranauskas: abaranauskas@brockport.edu

Posted: July 07, 2021