Hyper-Local Fear of Crime: Identifying Linguistic Cues of Fear in Crime Talk on Reddit

Qunfang Wu, Jeff Hemsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The fear of crime is an emotional response individuals have toward crime or the anticipation related to being the victim of crime. The increasing exposure to crime information presents considerable risks to people's psychological health and well-being. Nevertheless, the fear of crime in online discourses is under-researched despite abundant conversations about crime. This work presents a mixed-methods study to comprehend how people disclose the fear of crime and what linguistic content or cues are associated with the fear. We gathered conversations about crime in the Baltimore subreddit. The content analysis revealed a necessity to differentiate between “experienced” and “expressive” fear of crime. The regression modeling identified strong factors related to the fear of crime, such as negative sentiment, objective expression, and first-person pronouns. This work extends the conceptualization of the fear of crime in online discourses and suggests potential ways to detect the fear automatically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-468
Number of pages13
JournalProceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Fear of crime
  • Reddit
  • emotion detection
  • logistic regression
  • online discourse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Library and Information Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Hyper-Local Fear of Crime: Identifying Linguistic Cues of Fear in Crime Talk on Reddit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this