Journal Article

Evolutionary Psychology and Fear of Crime

Aiden Sidebottom and Nick Tilley

in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice

Volume 2, issue 2, pages 167-174
Published in print January 2008 | ISSN: 1752-4512
Published online June 2008 | e-ISSN: 1752-4520 | DOI:
Evolutionary Psychology and Fear of Crime

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Presently, public levels of fear of crime are generally considered to be excessive and undesirable. Their reduction is a recurrent policy target. It is recurrent because of the long-standing difficulties experienced in lowering levels of fear to match falling crime rates. The purpose of this brief paper is to describe how and why evolutionary theory may contribute to our understanding of the fear of crime, and help explain why it has been found so difficult to reduce it. The mismatch between fear and real risk, shown for instance in young men's consistent underestimation of risk, is examined. Implications of this for a policy aiming at ‘realism’ in relation to fear and risk are also discussed. In this vein, evolutionary theory, we believe, has the potential to explain both disproportionately high and disproportionately low levels of fear of crime. Moreover, it indicates why some methods of attempting to achieve fear-reduction policy aims have few prospects of success.

Journal Article.  3862 words. 

Subjects: Policing

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