Most people do not experience crime directly as victims in their daily lives. Yet, people are capable of experiencing and expressing reactions to the distal risk of victimisation, such as fear of crime. How do people transcend their crime-free ‘here and now’ in order to experience and express fear of crime? Drawing on the construal-level theory of psychological distance (CLT), the current approach to the fear of crime explores the cognitive processes that render the transcending of the crime-free ‘here and now’ feasible, namely psychological distance from crime and mental representations of crime. It is suggested that experiencing crime as a psychologically distant (vs. psychologically proximal) event, and mentally representing crime abstractly (vs. concretely) are related to lower levels of fear of crime.
This chapter explores the applicability of the CLT in the fear of crime, aiming to enhance the theorisation of the phenomenon. It also presents the first empirical evidence that appear to support the key hypotheses of a CLT approach to the fear of crime. Its theoretical, methodological, and policy implications are also discussed.