Psychological proximity and the construal of crime: A commentary on ‘Mapping fear of crime as a context-dependent everyday experience that varies in space and time’

Jonathan Jackson, Ioanna Gouseti
  • Legal and Criminological Psychology, July 2015, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1111/lcrp.12082

Psychological proximity and the construal of crime

What is it about?

Experience Sampling Methods (ESM) promise to open up new ways of examining situated experiences of fear of crime and understanding of the interpretive processes that drive them in given social and physical contexts. While acknowledging the advantages of ESM, in this commentary we discuss a potential drawback of the proposed method. In particular, we consider the idea that the methodology may affect the very thing that it measures by sensitising people to crime and risk. But drawing upon the construal level theory of psychological distance, we argue that this may occur in a psychologically interesting way.

Why is it important?

ESM may be a useful method if it does increase psychological proximity – it could be used to assess the importance of psychological distance and crime construal. CLT may be a powerful theoretical lens through which to explore the mechanisms by which individuals are capable of experiencing and expressing reactions towards crime by projecting risk onto their immediate social and physical environment.

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Jonathan Jackson