Event Title

Factors that Predict Knowledge and Perceptions of Police Use of Force

Poster Number

064

Session Title

Crime and Political Issues

Document Type

Poster Presentation

Faculty Mentor

Merry Sleigh, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Psychology

Description

This study examined whether use of force perceptions depend on the gender(s) of the police officer and citizen involved in the situation. Participants were 100 adults with a mean age of 19.51 (SD = 1.71). The majority were Caucasian (63%) and women (65%). Participants were randomly assigned to one of four scenarios. In all scenarios, a police officer interacted with a citizen during a routine traffic stop, ultimately ending with the police officer deploying a taser. The gender of the police and citizen were modified across the four versions to be male/male, male/female, female/male, and female/female. Participants responded to items to assess their perceptions of the presented situation, knowledge of use of force, perceptions of police, and aggression levels. Results revealed that young adults had negative perceptions toward the police officer and use of force in our scenarios. Participants were most understanding of a female officer using a taser to subdue a male citizen and viewed the remaining three gender combinations similarly. Perhaps this finding reflects participants’ assumptions about the size and strength of the female officer and male citizen. Having positive past interactions with police was linked to more positive attitudes towards police officers; however, these positive past interactions did not predict more positive attitudes toward the use of force in the scenarios. Aggressive individuals were not more supportive of use of force and felt more negatively toward police officers, perhaps reflecting their overall hostility toward others or because their aggression had caused previous problems with authority figures.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 2020; Sixth Annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE), Winthrop University, April 2020

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

Factors that Predict Knowledge and Perceptions of Police Use of Force

This study examined whether use of force perceptions depend on the gender(s) of the police officer and citizen involved in the situation. Participants were 100 adults with a mean age of 19.51 (SD = 1.71). The majority were Caucasian (63%) and women (65%). Participants were randomly assigned to one of four scenarios. In all scenarios, a police officer interacted with a citizen during a routine traffic stop, ultimately ending with the police officer deploying a taser. The gender of the police and citizen were modified across the four versions to be male/male, male/female, female/male, and female/female. Participants responded to items to assess their perceptions of the presented situation, knowledge of use of force, perceptions of police, and aggression levels. Results revealed that young adults had negative perceptions toward the police officer and use of force in our scenarios. Participants were most understanding of a female officer using a taser to subdue a male citizen and viewed the remaining three gender combinations similarly. Perhaps this finding reflects participants’ assumptions about the size and strength of the female officer and male citizen. Having positive past interactions with police was linked to more positive attitudes towards police officers; however, these positive past interactions did not predict more positive attitudes toward the use of force in the scenarios. Aggressive individuals were not more supportive of use of force and felt more negatively toward police officers, perhaps reflecting their overall hostility toward others or because their aggression had caused previous problems with authority figures.