Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Michael Phelan, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

William C. Burger, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kenneth B. Perkins, Ph.D.


Jeffery's Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design has become one of the leading crime prevention strategies used in many countries world wide including the United States. However, to date "Jeffery's complete CPTED model has not been subjected to empirical testing" (Paulsen & Robinson, 2005). The focus of this research is to empirically test people's perception of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles. This research will record the subject's perception of safety of virtual environments using three levels of CPTED design. A virtual landscape will be utilized because it allows for manipulation of the independent variable while holding the other variables constant and past research suggest that people respond similarly to virtual environments as they do to the real environment (Kaplin and Kaplin, 1989).

A convenience sample consisted of one hundred forty three undergraduate students (39 men, and 104 women) at a university in the Mid-Atlantic United States. The stimuli consisted of 33 color slides of computer generated slides of natural and urban landscapes. None of the environments contained people. All slides maintained the exact same sun placement, clouds, weather conditions, time of day and month of the year. Participants in each session rated each of the environments on only one variable, their perception of safety in the photo. A 5-point scale ranged from I (very safe) to 5 (very unsafe). Safety was operationally defined as "If all alone in this environment, how safe would you feel?" Each environment was presented in three slides, representing three levels of CPTED. The lowest level had no CPTED strategies incorporated into the design of the environment nor does this slide contain any vegetation. The second level incorporated the trees and vegetation, however, there are no CPTED principles applied to the landscape. The last level incorporated at least one or more of the four major components of CPTED (access control, natural observation, territoriality , and maintenance).

The data from the results suggests that CPTED does make a difference in the perception of safety. 88 percent of the environments using CPTED principles were viewed as the safest or second safest environments. Only 12 percent or two of the environments using CPTED principles were considered the least safe. Gender differences were tested using the Nonparametric (Mann-Whitney) statistical test. A statistically significance difference existed between gender and perception of fear in the environment at the (P < .001) level. Implications to academic and policy applications are discussed. Future research is recommended.

Included in

Criminology Commons



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