The concept of moral panic and its use in social psychology

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Moral panics are events that occur when societies react to a condition, episode, person or group of persons inside their society, which are seen as threats to the society’s core values or beliefs. The concept of moral panic has been successfully employed in the fields of sociology and criminology for well over 40 years. However, it has remained fairly unknown to social psychologists. In this paper we have reviewed the theoretical and empirical literature on this topic, from its inception to the latest modifications it has received. We have also highlighted the concept’s implicit links to social psychological theories and research findings. Criticisms, past applications and suggestions for future usage are provided and discussed.


External organisations
  • University of Turin
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)


  • Deviance, Folk devil, Moral panic
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-181
Number of pages17
JournalPsicologia Sociale
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch