Cromby, John, Brown, S.D., Gross, Harriet and Locke, Abigail (2009) Emotion and Crime: a mixed methods study. Project Report. Economic and Social Research Council.

Crime and anti-social behaviour are issues of ongoing public concern. Surveys suggest that around 20 per cent of the population are ‘very worried’ about burglary and street crime, and that some groups (women, older people and ethnic minorities) are more fearful than others. Psychology has contributed little to this research even though emotion is one of its central concerns, and very few studies involve ‘qualitative’ analysis of what people themselves actually say about these issues.

This social psychological research will study the talk of a community group who meet in a deprived inner-city area. The group are volunteers trying to improve community safety and quality of life, so crime and anti-social behaviour are frequently relevant to their work. Our data is gathered from recordings of their meetings, so it will show how they spontaneously speak and feel about these issues.

Our analyses will identify the group’s shared understandings of crime and anti-social behaviour, and will show what their typical emotional responses to these issues are. More detailed knowledge of these emotional responses could be useful to government departments, community groups and local authorities, as well as to researchers, in understanding how best to tackle problems and meet people's concerns.

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