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Implicit and Explicit Messages on Neighborhood Watch Signs in San Diego County, California, 2005-2007 (ICPSR 20620) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effects of Neighborhood Watch signs on perceived crime rates, likelihood of victimization, community safety, and estimates of home and community quality. Part 1 (Study One Data) assessed the causal impact of Neighborhood Watch sign presence and content on perceptions of the community. Three Neighborhood Watch signs were incorporated into a series of slide show presentations. The signs utilized the traditional orange and white color scheme with black text and were used to represent an injunctive norm alone, a low descriptive norm for crime, or a high descriptive norm for crime. Digital color images of a for-sale home and the surrounding neighborhood of a middle class community in North San Diego County were shown to 180 undergraduates recruited from the Psychology Department's Human Participant Pool, and from other lower division general education courses at California State University, San Marcos, between July and November of 2005. Three of the slide shows were designated as Neighborhood Watch communities with one of the three sign types posted, and the fourth slide show served as a control with no posted crime prevention signs. Each slide show consisted of 20 images of the home and community, along with four instruction slides. Part 2 (Study Two Data) replicated the basic effect from Study 1 and extended the research to examine the moderating role of community social economic status (SES) on the effects of the Neighborhood Watch signs. Participants were 547 undergraduate students recruited from the Psychology Department's Human Participant Pool, and from other lower division general education courses at California State University and Palomar Community College in San Marcos, between January and September 2006. A total of 12 slide shows were utilized in Study Two, such that each of the four sign conditions from Study One was represented across each of the three communities (Low, Middle, and High SES). Part 3 (Study Three Data) examined the potential for the physical condition of the Neighborhood Watch signs posted in the community to convey normative information about the presence and acceptance of crime in the community. Participants were 364 undergraduate students recruited from the Psychology Department's Human Participant Pool, and from other lower division general education courses at California State University and Palomar Community College in San Marcos, between October 2006 and March 2007. Study Three used the same generic (Injunctive Norm, Program Only) sign that was utilized in Studies One and Two. However, three variations (new, aged, and defaced) of the sign were used. The surveys used for Study One, Study Two, and Study Three, were identical. The data include variables on perceived crime rates, perceived likelihood of victimization, perceived community safety, community ratings, self-protective behavior, burglar's perspective, manipulation check, and demographics of the respondent.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the data. A login is required to apply for access.

    A downloadable version of data for this study is available however, certain identifying information in the downloadable version may have been masked or edited to protect respondent privacy. Additional data not included in the downloadable version are available in a restricted version of this data collection. For more information about the differences between the downloadable data and the restricted data for this study, please refer to the codebook notes section of the PDF codebook. Users interested in obtaining restricted data must complete and sign a Restricted Data Use Agreement, describe the research project and data protection plan, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

Dataset(s)

Study Description

Citation

Schultz, P. Wesley. Implicit and Explicit Messages on Neighborhood Watch Signs in San Diego County, California, 2005-2007. ICPSR20620-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2010-11-24. doi:10.3886/ICPSR20620.v1

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

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  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)

Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2005-IJ-CX-0016)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   citizen attitudes, crime impact, crime rates, fear of crime, neighborhood characteristics, neighborhood conditions, neighborhood watch programs, reactions to crime

Smallest Geographic Unit:   none

Geographic Coverage:   California, United States

Time Period:  

  • 2005-07--2005-11
  • 2006-01--2006-09
  • 2006-10--2007-03

Date of Collection:  

  • 2005-07--2005-11
  • 2006-01--2006-09
  • 2006-10--2007-03

Unit of Observation:   individual

Universe:  

Part 1 (Study One Data): All undergraduate students enrolled in the Psychology Department's Human Participant Pool, and all undergraduate students enrolled in lower division general education courses at California State University, San Marcos, between July and November 2005.

Part 2 (Study Two Data): All undergraduate students enrolled in the Psychology Department's Human Participant Pool, and all undergraduate students enrolled in lower division general education courses at California State University and Palomar Community College in San Marcos, between January and September 2006.

Part 3 (Study Three Data): All undergraduate students enrolled in the Psychology Department's Human Participant Pool, and all undergraduate students enrolled in lower division general education courses at California State University and Palomar Community College in San Marcos, between October 2006 and March 2007.

Data Types:   experimental data

Methodology

Study Purpose:   The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effects of Neighborhood Watch signs on perceived crime rates, likelihood of victimization, community safety, and estimates of home and community quality.

Study Design:  

The goal of Study One (Part 1) was to assess the causal impact of Neighborhood Watch sign presence and content on perceptions of the community. Three Neighborhood Watch signs were incorporated into a series of slide show presentations. The signs utilized the traditional orange and white color scheme with black text and were used to represent an injunctive norm alone, a low descriptive norm for crime, or a high descriptive norm for crime. The three signs are worded as follows:

  • Generic (Injunctive Norm, Program Only): "Neighborhood Watch Program in Force" with the familiar picture of a burglar with a red circle and bar.

  • Low Descriptive Norm: "Neighborhood Watch Program in Force: This area has been identified by the City as a Crime Free Zone" with the picture of a burglar with red circle and bar.

  • High Descriptive Norm: "Neighborhood Watch Program in Force: This area has been identified by the City as a High Crime Area" with the picture of a burglar with red circle and bar.

Digital color images of a for-sale home and the surrounding neighborhood of a middle class community in North San Diego County were shown to 180 undergraduates recruited from the Psychology Department's Human Participant Pool, and lower division general education courses at California State University, San Marcos, between July and November of 2005. Three of the slide shows were designated as Neighborhood Watch communities with one of the three sign types posted, and the fourth slide show served as a control with no posted crime prevention signs. Each slide show consisted of 20 images of the home and community, along with four instruction slides. The 20 images consisted of 10 images of the outside of the home and community (without the Neighborhood Watch sign in view), 5 images of the inside of the home, and 5 images of the outside of the home with the Neighborhood Watch sign in view (or no sign for the control condition). Participants were told that the study was about "New Techniques in Home Sales." Participants were tested individually and randomly assigned to view one of the four slide shows. After providing informed consent, participants were seated in front of a desktop computer and told that they would be watching a seven-minute slide show and then completing a questionnaire about their perceptions of the community and the for-sale home. The questionnaire was secured in an envelope so that participants were not aware of the types of questions that would be asked until after they had viewed the slide show. After completing the questionnaire, participants placed all materials (slide show CD and questionnaire) back in the envelope and returned the items to the researcher. Participants were then given a written debriefing explaining the purposes and hypothesis of the study.

The purpose of Study Two Data (Part 2) was to replicate the basic effect from Study One and extend the research to examine the moderating role of community social economic status (SES) on the effects of the Neighborhood Watch signs. Participants were 547 undergraduate students recruited from the Psychology Department's Human Participant Pool, and from other lower division general education courses at California State University and Palomar Community College in San Marcos, between January and September 2006. A total of 12 slide shows were utilized in Study Two, such that each of the four sign conditions from Study One was represented across each of the three communities (Low, Middle, and High SES). The experiment used the same middle class community tours utilized in Study One, and two additional sets of community tours were created to represent low and high SES communities. For each SES community, three of the slide shows were designated as Neighborhood Watch communities with one of the three sign types posted, and the fourth slide show served as a control with no posted crime prevention signs. The Study Two experiment used the same procedures as Study One.

The goal of Study Three Data (Part 3) was to examine the potential for the physical condition of the Neighborhood Watch signs posted in the community to convey normative information about the presence and acceptance of crime in the community. Participants were 364 undergraduate students recruited from the Psychology Department's Human Participant Pool, and from other lower division general education courses at California State University and Palomar Community College in San Marcos, between October 2006 and March 2007. Study Three used the same generic (Injunctive Norm, Program Only) sign that was utilized in Studies One and Two. However, three variations of the sign were used. The three experimental signs were modified as follows:

  • New Sign: This sign contained the traditional "Neighorhood Watch Program in Force" text and was displayed in its original, undamaged form. This sign was identical to the "Generic" sign used in Studies One and Two.

  • Aged Sign: This sign contained the traditional "Neighborhood Watch Program in Force" text and was modified to show signs of aging such as rust, fading, and scratches. The intent was to convey a descriptive norm that residents in the community are not involved in crime prevention practices.

  • Defaced Sign: This sign contained the traditional "Neighborhood Watch Program in Force" text and was digitially modified with "spray paint" to depict a sign that had been vandalized. The intent was to convey a descriptive norm that "crime happens here."

A total of 12 slide shows were utilized in Study Three such that each of the three signs' conditions (and no sign control) was represented in each of two communities (Low or High SES). The experiment used the same community tours utilized in Study Two, except that the signs in each tour were replaced with one of the three sign conditions. For each SES community, three of the slide shows were designated as Neighborhood Watch communities with one of the three sign types posted, and the fourth slide show served as a control with no posted crime control prevention signs. The Study Three experiment used the same procedures as Study One.

Sample:  

Part 1 (Study One Data): Participants were 180 undergraduate students recruited from the Psychology Department's Human Participant Pool, and lower division general education courses at California State University, San Marcos.

Part 2 (Study Two Data): Participants were 547 undergraduate students recruited from the Psychology Department's Human Participant Pool, and from other lower division general education courses at California State University and Palomar Community College in San Marcos.

Part 3 (Study Three Data): Participants were 364 undergraduate students recruited from the Psychology Department's Human Participant Pool, and from other lower division general education courses at California State University and Palomar Community College in San Marcos.

Weight:   none

Mode of Data Collection:   self-enumerated questionnaire

Description of Variables:   The surveys used for Part 1 (Study One Data), Part 2 (Study Two Data) and Part 3 (Study Three Data) were identical. The data include variables on perceived crime rates, perceived likelihood of victimization, perceived community safety, community ratings, self-protective behavior, burglar's perspective, manipulation check, and demographics of the respondent.

Response Rates:   Part 1 (Study One Data): Of the orginal sample of 180, one participant was dropped due to incomplete data, resulting in a sample of 179 participants. Part 2 (Study Two Data): Data were collected from 547 participants. Part 3 (Study Three Data): Data were collected from 364 participants.

Presence of Common Scales:  

The data include the following scales:

  • Perceived Crime Rate (Thompson, Bankston, and St. Pierre, 1992)

  • Perceived Likelihood of Victimization (Williams, McShane, and Akers, 2000)

  • Perceived Community Safety (Austin, Furr, and Spine, 2002; Baba and Austin, 1989)

Additionally, several Likert-type scales are used.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

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