What you See Is What you Get? Investigating how Survey Context Shapes the Association between Media Consumption and Attitudes about Crime

Colleen M. Ray, Lisa A. Kort-Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research on the relationship between media consumption and perceptions of or feelings about crime often relies on survey data. This research, however, rarely if ever contextualizes the content of that media within the analyses. This study explored how media type, frequency of use, and content are related to measures of beliefs about crime. Using survey data from four different years, we tested the relationship between media consumption, perceptions of the crime rate, worry about crime, and anger about crime. We used regressions to investigate what types of media are associated with public opinions on crime, and to examine how these relationships differ across years. We then contextualized our findings by highlighting both local and national news stories about crime that occurred leading up to and during the time that each of these surveys was in the field. Results indicated that local news had the most consistent effect on the three outcomes across years, and other types of media were important when high-profile cases and political debates were in the news cycle. In order to tell a fuller story about the effects of media on beliefs about crime and justice, we argue that future research should consider mixed-methods approaches to place surveys into social context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)914-932
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journal of Criminal Justice
Volume45
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Keywords

  • Anger
  • Crime
  • Media
  • Mixed methods
  • Public opinion
  • Survey research
  • Worry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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