Perceptions of Neighborhood Safety in the Big Data Era (in progress)

cartooon of neighborhood with technology

Can “objective” data supplant traditional, subjective data sources in how individuals make decisions? In the age of big data, individuals are no longer solely reliant on recommendations from friends and family and “gut feelings.” They have access to more data sources than ever before to assess the safety of a neighborhood, including crime maps generated with public data, private apps like Ring and Citizen, and Google Street View imagery. This has implications for how people choose to live, work, and shop, and thus the segregation of communities. This study uses a survey experiment and semi-structured interviews to examine how individuals navigate and interpret this wealth of information, as well as how it shapes their perceptions of neighborhood safety. More broadly, the findings will provide insights into how people trust and interpret new data sources.

Above: Image generated by Bing Image Creator

How Americans Evaluate Housing Market Fairness: An Experimental Approach (2023)

Figure displaying effects of offer attributes on the perceived fairness of an offer

Owning a home is often seen as a key part of the American Dream, but rising housing costs have made it harder for average people to afford homes, with more affluent individuals and corporations viewing houses as financial investments. This study explores the moral beliefs of Americans regarding who should have the opportunity to buy a house in the United States. Using a survey experiment on a sample of 1,983 Americans, the research reveals a surprising departure from a purely market-driven perspective, as Americans, irrespective of political affiliations, express a preference for selling houses to fellow citizens planning to use them as primary residences rather than to the highest bidder. The findings highlight concerns about fairness and the deservingness of homebuyers, shedding light on a significant aspect of market dynamics that has been overlooked by sociologists and emphasizing a misalignment between moral values and the current state of the housing market.

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Above: Effects of Offer Attributes on the Perceived Fairness of an Offer