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Resident Perceptions of Crime and Disorder: How Much is Bias, and How Much Is Social Environment Differences?

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 48 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2010 Pages: 475-508
Date Published
May 2010
34 pages

This study attempted to disentangle the extent to which residents are systematically biased when reporting on the level of crime or disorder in their neighborhood.


The study shows that Whites consistently perceive more crime or disorder than their neighbors. It also shows that females, those with children, and those with longer residence in the neighborhood perceive more crime or disorder than their neighbors. By using a unique sample of households nested in household clusters, this study teased out the degree of systematic bias on the part of respondents when perceiving crime and disorder. The findings are generally consistent with theoretical expectations of which types of residents will perceive more crime or disorder and contrast with the generally mixed results of prior studies that used an inappropriate aggregate unit when assuming that residents live in the same social context of crime or disorder. Estimating ancillary models on a sample of respondents nested in tracts produced mixed results that mirror the existing literature. Table, references, and appendix (Published Abstract)

Date Published: May 1, 2010