Date of Award

2002

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Alfred Allan

Second Advisor

Dr Maria M Allan

Abstract

Television has been identified as being a major contributor to anxiety and fear of crime. The major aim of this study was to compare the level of state anxiety experienced individuals after viewing one of three versions of a television report related to prison escapes. The second aim was to determine if there were any differences in levels of anxiety between two age cohorts: middle-aged (35-45 years) and older-aged (65-75 years). A total of 120 participants were recruited using a snowball technique and randomly assigned to one of three groups using a lottery method. Participants completed demographic and attitudinal questionnaires, experienced a state anxiety baseline session before viewing one of three versions (standard, reassuring and remote location) of a television report of a prison escape, Participants then completed a State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) designed to measure state anxiety. Data was analysed on SPSS using 3 x 2 analysis of variance (ANOVA). This study supported the first hypothesis that participants in the standard version television report group will experience higher levels of anxiety than the reassuring version group, and the reassuring version group will, in tum, experience higher levels of anxiety than the remote location group. This study also supported the second hypothesis that the older aged group will experience higher levels of anxiety than the middle-aged group, regardless of report format was also supported. Post hoc comparisons revealed that there was a statistical difference in anxiety levels between the middle-aged and older-aged groups but only at the standard version of the television report. The findings of this study indicate that television reports about prison escapes affect people in different ways, depending on the format and wording of the report. Secondly, older people appeared more anxious than middle-aged people, after seeing a television report about a prison escape. These findings have practical implications for television news program managers and theoretical implications regarding cognition and fear. Even though the concept of fear of crime began as field of inquiry for sociology and criminology, more specific investigations into the behaviour and attitudes of individuals are required, which places this concept legitimately in the psychological domain.

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