Fear ofcrime exists outside the realms of societal pretences and instead is acondition embedded within the human psyche. Levels of crime and security withinany society are obvious predictors for levels of fear of crime, furtherpredictors are factors such as past experiences, demographic factors, and theperception of insecurity; which as of recently has emerged as a socialproblem. Jean Baudrillard’s theory ofhyperreality is one which will be closely considered in the answering of thequestion posed in the title. Fear of crime and hyperreality are associated inthat Surette (1998) put forward that fiction is closer to news than to reality,this statement being founded upon a study performed by Mandel (1984) whichdetermined that between 1945 and 1984 over 10 billion crime thrillers wereproduced. Cultivation theory is mostoften used to explain the effects of exposure to certain media and wasintroduced in the 1970s by George Gerbner.
Gerbner’s research concluded thatheavy exposure to media content could over an extended time period influenceindividuals attitudes and behaviour towards being “more consistent with theworld of television programs than with the everyday world” (Chandler 1995). Results takenfrom Dowler (2003) indicate that “viewing crime shows is significantly relatedto fear of crime and perceived police effectiveness.” Dowler goes onto mentionthat regular crime drama viewers are more likely to “hold negative attitudestoward police effectiveness, although “regular viewers of crime shows are morelikely to fear or worry about crime. Similarly, regular crime drama viewers aremore likely to hold negative attitudes toward police effectiveness, although abivariate analysis indicated that newspapers as primary source of crime newsand hours of television viewing are not significantly related to fear of crime,punitive attitudes or perceived police effectiveness.”