Social Media, Fear of Crime, and Social Trust
The current study proposes that individuals who are exposed to crime and violence on social media have a decreased sense of social trust. It further proposes that having a fear of crime, engaging in a mental risk assessment of being a crime victim, and engaging in behavioral avoidance explains the relationship between social media exposure to crime-related content and mistrust. The current study utilized a correlational design to evaluate the relationship between exposure to crime-related content on social media and trust-related outcomes (communal orientation, propensity to trust, inclusive trust, and mistrust) and whether and links are mediated by fear of crime, perceived risk of being a crime victim, and behavioral avoidance. Participants (N = 302) completed an online survey, and multiple mediation analyses were used to examine whether fear of crime, perceived risk, and behavioral avoidance served as mechanisms of the link between reading/watching crime-related content and trust outcomes. Several key findings emerged. First, the link between social media exposure to crime-related content on inclusive trust was mediated by fear of crime, followed by a similar effect of fear of crime also mediating the relationship between reading/watching and mistrust. A third significant mediation effect was observed with behavioral avoidance on the relationship between reading/watching and propensity to trust. Our mediator of perceived risk was found to explain the relationship between reading/watching and mistrust. In addition, results indicated significant mediation effects of behavioral avoidance on the relationship between reading/watching and propensity to trust as well as mistrust. Findings of the current study lend support to the proposal that exposure to crime and violence on social media can impact levels of trust through increased fear of crime.
Berger, Charlotte, "Social Media, Fear of Crime, and Social Trust" (2023). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI30249838.
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