Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Research indicates that sex is the most powerful predictor of fear of crime and that women have a higher level of fear than men. A paradox arises because women have a higher level of fear but are victimized less. This dissertation examines: (1) the underlying dimensions of fear and the specific offenses that evoke fear in men and women; (2) selected social and demographic characteristics and their relationship to a criterion variable; and (3) the effect the fear of rape contributes to the differences in the level of fear between men and women. The data was taken from a larger study of victimization, fear, crime, and attitudes toward crime conducted in Louisiana during the summer of 1984. The sample was statewide and derived from drivers' license holders in Louisiana. Of the number delivered, 1850 questionnaires, or 49.8 percent, were returned. Factoring the 15 offenses produced an underlying dimension of fear of crime consisting of two factors, composed of property crimes and personal/violent crimes. The first factor reflects a more generalized notion of fear. The second factor consists of variables which can be strongly associated with personal crime and are identified as crimes of personal, unavoidable harm. The criterion variable (Factor 2) was the dependent variable in a regression equation with age, income, race, education, community size, marital status, and previous victimization, controlling for sex. Age was associated with the dependent variable for both sexes. Income, community size, education, and previous victimization were associated at the .05 level for women. To determine the difference in the level of fear between men and women, a MCA controlling for sex, indicated that when the fear of rape was introduced as a covariant, there was no difference between men and women. Because fear of rape interacts with the dependent variable, each offense composing the dependent variable was examined separately using a MCA and compared with the fear of rape. The results indicated that while the fear of murder and burglary while at home explain more variance, the fear of rape shows a greater change in attitude. Implications of the findings are elaborated, and needed directions for further research are discussed.