Answers to such questions might help to clarify the rather conflicting state of evidence concerning the relation between fear of victimization and prior victimization. Most studies on this topic report the correlation between current fear and prior victimization without controlling for the time elapsed since victimization or for the nature of the victimization. By failing to hold constant the interval since victimization, such a procedure is bound to capture the natural history of fear at different points in time among respondents.
Perhaps the most daunting task facing investigators is documenting the nature and consequences of what might be called victimization careers. In all likelihood, individuals in a population such as ours experience an enormous variety of patterns of victimization (both direct and indirect) during their life course. Even in the unlikely event that two persons were to experience the same number and types of victimization events, those events would likely differ in the order in which they occurred, the intervals between them, the density or rate of events during a given interval of time, or the ages at which the victims experienced the events. Sorting out such patterns of victimization and establishing their individual and social consequences will require concerted research on victimization careers, much in the same way that criminal careers became a major focus of criminological research during the 1980s.
Some additional questions concerning reactions to fear also need to be answered. First, how and why do individuals differ in the avoidance or precautionary measures they undertake? For example, do the size and the composition of households affect their responses to fear? Do lifestyle characteristics (e.g., amount of time spent away from home or amount of time spent with companions) affect such responses? How is the use of security precautions affected by their cost, perceived effectiveness, and the ease with which they can be adopted? Aside from individuals or households, research is also needed on the consequences of fear for businesses, including the reactions of commercial establishments to ostensibly dangerous environments. To what extent does spatial avoidance affect the livelihoods of retail businesses? Are the location and relocation decisions of businesses frequently affected by the reputations of areas and, if so, do such decisions stem from concern about the added costs of security, the danger to employees, or the potential lack of customers? Is the social designation of certain places as "dangerous" areas ultimately a self-fulfilling prophecy? That is, by driving out businesses and