Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Criminal Justice


Criminal Justice

Committee Chair

Christopher Murtagh


Several decades of study have established an understanding that media have a unique power to influence the perspectives and worldviews of audiences. This phenomenon has been explored through the lenses of Social Learning and Cultivation theory, wherein media appeal to base human tendencies of self-preservation and teaches audiences how to maximize rewards for their actions by acting as a sort of instructor or friendly warning from members of the community. While prior studies have suggested the presence of this effect, little research has been devoted to understanding the ways that this may influence behaviors in viewers. My research seeks to understand how crime-based media affect audiences’ understanding of crime and the criminal justice system by surveying adult American participants about fear of crime and support for strict criminal justice policies in relationship to their crime-based media consumption habits.

I performed two multiple regression analyses to measure how these aspects of thought were influenced by participants’ weekly crime-based media consumption. I found that watching news media had a negative relationship with both fear of crime and support for strict crime policies, while fictional crime-based media did have a positive relationship with crime policy support. Results suggest that outside factors such as political ideology may have a stronger impact on fear of crime and crime policy support than media habits.



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