Victimization, fear of crime, and perceived risk: Testing a vulnerability model of personal control

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Perceptions of control over one's life represent a vital topic in social research: they capture the interaction between the individual and society and reflect the structures and adversities in people's lives. This study uses longitudinal data to examine how victimization, an event with established consequences for social functioning, interacts with fear of crime and perceived risk to influence sense of personal control (SPC). It posits a vulnerability model, wherein victimization affects SPC directly and amplifies the effects of fear and perceived risk. Linear regression models predicting baseline SPC, and longitudinal change in SPC, reveal mixed results. Victimization intensifies fear's effects at baseline, but actually increases SPC and desensitizes against perceived risk; subsample analyses suggest resilience as one explanation. Fear and perceived risk both attack SPC, with perceived risk having particularly consistent effects. Findings suggest that resilience may operate alongside cumulative adversity and that related social experiences can have divergent impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-140
Number of pages24
JournalSociological Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Fear of crime
  • Perceived risk
  • Sense of personal control
  • Victimization


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