This study examined a cross-lagged panel design applied to longitudinal data from the Offending Crime and Justice Survey to more carefully explore the causal links between fear and disorder.
Over the last 40 years and more, a growing number of researchers have explored the links between perceptions of disorder and fear of criminal victimization. Many of these studies have posited a causal link from perceptions of disorder to subsequent fear, with disorderly cues in the environment signaling to individuals that an area is in decline and unable to control deviant behavior. But a growing body of evidence approaches this question from the opposite direction, emphasizing the socially constructed nature of perceived disorder and the potential role that fear may have in giving meaning to ambiguous disorderly cues present in the environment. This conceptual uncertainty stems, in part, from the reliance of existing research on cross-sectional data, making it impossible to say whether it is perceptions of disorder that shape fear or whether fear drives perceived disorder. A cross-lagged panel design is applied to longitudinal data from the Offending Crime and Justice Survey to more carefully explore the causal links between fear and disorder. (Published Abstract)