Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Daniel Lee, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rosemary Gido, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Dennis Giever, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Shannon Phaneuf, Ph.D.


This study tests collective efficacy theory by expanding the current operationizations of informal social control and social cohesion and trust, as well as introducing an original technique to measure these constructs. Collective efficacy has been measured in the same manner in the majority of tests currently available, indicating that these constructs are equated to particular behaviors. This dissertation examines the efficiency of these past techniques by accounting for additional behaviors. Both social disorganization and collective efficacy research have utilized community members to measure the intervening constructs (i.e., informal social control and social ties). Although this is an acceptable and empirically valuable way to assess the ecological factors of crime, it is incomplete. This research incorporates real estate agents as resident proxies to provide data on these variables, as well as their perceptions of crime, for a number of different communities within Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The results provide some support for collective efficacy theory. The analyses indicate that collective efficacy is strongly associated with perceptions of crime. Collective efficacy was also found to mediate the relationship between concentrated disadvantage/residential stability and perceptions of crime. There was limited support for concentrated disadvantage and residential stability when explaining real estate agents' perceptions of neighborhood collective efficacy and crime.