The Crime and Threat Image Set (CaTIS): a validated stimulus set to experimentally explore fear of crime

Michelle S. Noon, Jennifer L. Beaudry, Ann Knowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Fear of crime may develop in response to crime specifically (the narrow pathway) or may be a projection of broader threats (the broad pathway). New approaches are needed to examine how crime and threat, independently and in combination, influence people’s fear. To address this need, we created, evaluated, and validated an image set that varied across the dimensions of threat and crime. Method: We used a 2 (Threat: high vs. low) × 2 (Crime: high vs. low) within-subjects factorial design. In three studies, participants (N = 24, 29, and 176, respectively) gave threat, crime, and fear ratings towards images. Participants also completed two traditional fear of crime measures and a measure of anxiety. Two evaluation studies explored the suitability of 178 images to produce a final set of 80 images (20 in each of the four categories). We validated this final set of 80 images in a third study. Results: The validated Crime and Threat Image Set (CaTIS) contains 78 images across four categories: threat-and-crime (high-crime, high-threat), threat-only (low-crime, high-threat), crime-only (high-crime, low-threat), and neutral (low-crime, low-threat). There were significant main effects of threat and crime, and an interaction between Threat × Crime, on participants’ fear ratings. Participants’ own ratings of threat—but not crime—had a strong relationship with their fear ratings. Conclusions: Threat had a stronger influence on participants’ fear ratings than crime. Thus, what is typically referred to as fear of crime may reflect broader fear. Further research with the CaTIS could explore the expression of this fear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-242
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Criminology
Issue number2
Early online date20 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Crime and Threat Image Set
  • Fear
  • Fear of crime
  • Image set
  • Image validation
  • Threat


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