General perceptions of police mediate relationships between police contact and anticipated police behavior in imagined roadside encounters

Rikki H. Sargent, Abigail J. Caselli, Laura V. Machia, Leonard S. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Previous experiences with police can influence civilian perceptions of police, and in turn their expectations for future encounters. According to theories on intergroup contact, positive contact predicts positive attitudes toward the outgroup and unpleasant contact predicts negative attitudes. In the case of police-civilian encounters, pleasant interactions with the police are associated with favorable police attitudes among civilians, whereas unpleasant encounters are associated with negative attitudes. In four studies (N = 826) we assessed contact among police and civilians as related to civilian general perceptions of police and (novel to this research area) anticipated officer behavior in an imagined roadside encounter. Across studies and contact type, general perceptions mediated relationships between contact and anticipated behavior. These studies provide preliminary evidence of a process by which contact shapes general perceptions, in turn impacting anticipated police behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Discrimination
  • Intergroup contact
  • Policing
  • Prejudice
  • Social psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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