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Keywords:

  • racial threat;
  • perceived risk;
  • racial typification of crime;
  • public opinion

Recent theoretical extensions of threat theory have posited that Whites frequently view Blacks as a criminal threat because of stereotypes linking race and crime. Several studies have found indirect support for this hypothesis and have shown that the percentage of neighborhood residents who are Black is positively associated with the perceptions of victimization risk and fear of crime by White residents. To date, however, little research has investigated whether, as theory would suggest, this relationship is either a consequence of or is contingent on Whites holding stereotypes of Blacks as criminals. In this article, we address this issue by examining whether racial typification of crime mediates or moderates the relationships between static and dynamic measures of neighborhood racial composition and the perceptions of victimization risk by Whites. The results offer mixed support for the threat hypothesis and show that racial typification of crime conditions the relationship between perceived changes in neighborhood racial composition and the perceptions of victimization risk by Whites, but neither explains nor influences the association between static measures of racial composition and the latter. The implications of the findings for threat theory and research are discussed.