Eyes wide open: exploring men’s and women’s self-reported and physiological reactions to threat and crime

Michelle S. Noon, Jennifer L. Beaudry, Mark A. Schier, Ann Knowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: In response to calls for physiological measurement of people's fear of crime, we explored how men and women responded to self-report and physiological measures as they viewed threatening and/or crime-related images. Method: We used a gender (men vs. women) × threat (high vs. low) × crime (high vs. low) mixed-factorial design. Participants (N = 40) viewed two blocks of 40 images from the Crime and Threat Image Set (CaTIS). In one block, participants rated their pleasantness and arousal (self-report) as they viewed the images. In the second block, we recorded participants’ eye blinks and galvanic skin response (GSR; physiological) as they viewed the images. Participants also completed two traditional fear of crime measures. Results: On the traditional fear of crime measures, women reported significantly more fear of crime than men. When viewing images, there was a gender dynamic for self-reports of pleasantness: women reported feeling more unpleasant when viewing high-threat images than did men. Ratings of arousal, eye blink rates and GSR did not significantly differ between men and women, but GSR and arousal ratings did significantly differ across image categories. Conclusions: We found gender differences between traditional fear of crime measures and self-reports of pleasantness, but no statistically significant differences in men’s and women’s physiological reactions. We propose that this is not a function of impression management, but that men and women may be interpreting their physiological responses in line with gender-socialised scripts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-178
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Experimental Criminology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Crime and Threat Image Set
  • Eye blinks
  • Fear
  • Fear of crime
  • Gender
  • GSR
  • Physiological data
  • Self-report data


Dive into the research topics of 'Eyes wide open: exploring men’s and women’s self-reported and physiological reactions to threat and crime'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this