Public security and methods of government surveillance- An experimental approach to how public approval is shaped by a perceived threat
The study of government surveillance is continually important as new policies are made or the extent of the surveillance leaked to the public. Earlier research has found that there is a relationship between people’s perception of a threat to public security with their approval of such government surveillance. My study intends to answer how and in what way the threat is related to approval rates. I present two separate arguments to this original relationship. One, that the relationship is moderated through geographical proximity where smaller distances between the threat and respondent yield higher approval rates. Two, that the relationship is mediated through interpersonal trust or governmental trust which has a negative effect on the relationship. Different from most surveillance studies this paper operationalizes the threat as organized sexual assaults rather than terrorism which I argue is important as terrorism is a very unlikely event. By conducting an experiment this paper indicates that geographical proximity does not yield the predicted results. I was unable to find the relationship between threat and approval rates and thus unable to test the mediators. This suggests that the non- terror threat is not important for the study. Replications of the experiment are needed to validate and generalize the results.