Aarhus University Seal

Reducing Bias in Citizens' Perception of Crime Rates: Evidence from a Field Experiment on Burglary Prevalence

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review



Citizens are, on average, too pessimistic when assessing the trajectory of current crime trends. In this study, we examine whether we can correct this perceptual bias with respect to burglaries. Using a field experiment coupled with a large panel survey (n p 4; 895), we explore whether a public information campaign can reduce misperceptions about the prevalence of burglaries. Embedding the correct information about burglary rates in a direct mail campaign, we find that it is possible to substantially reduce citizens’ misperceptions. Importantly, the effects are not short-lived: They are detectable several weeks after the mailer was sent, but they are temporary and eventually the perceptual bias reemerges. Our results suggest that if citizens were continually supplied with correct information about crime rates they would be less pessimistic. Reducing bias in citizens’ perception of crime rates might therefore be a matter of adjusting the supply of (dis)information about crime.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Politics
Pages (from-to)747-752
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

Download statistics

No data available

ID: 148118982