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Are trustworthiness and legitimacy “hard to win, easy to lose”? A longitudinal test of the asymmetry thesis of police-citizen contact

Rodrigues Oliveira, Thiago, Jackson, Jonathan ORCID: 0000-0003-2426-2219, Murphy, K and Bradford, Ben ORCID: 0000-0001-5480-5638 (2020) Are trustworthiness and legitimacy “hard to win, easy to lose”? A longitudinal test of the asymmetry thesis of police-citizen contact. Journal of Quantitative Criminology. ISSN 0748-4518

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s10940-020-09478-2

Abstract

Objectives Test the asymmetry thesis of police-citizen contact that police trustworthiness and legitimacy are affected more by negative than by positive experiences of interactions with legal agents by analyzing changes in attitudes towards the police after an encounter with the police. Test whether prior attitudes moderate the impact of contact on changes in attitudes towards the police. Methods A two-wave panel survey of a nationally representative sample of Australian adults measured people’s beliefs about police trustworthiness (procedural fairness and effectiveness), their duty to obey the police, their contact with the police between the two waves, and their evaluation of those encounters in terms of process and outcome. Analysis is carried out using autoregressive structural equation modeling and latent moderated structural models. Results The association between both process and outcome evaluation of police-citizen encounters and changes in attitudes towards the police is asymmetrical for trust in police effectiveness, symmetrical for trust in procedural fairness, and asymmetrical (in the opposite direction expected) for duty to obey the police. Little evidence of heterogeneity in the association between encounters and trust in procedural fairness and duty to obey, but prior levels of perceived effectiveness moderate the association between outcome evaluation and changes in trust in police effectiveness. Conclusions The association between police-citizen encounters and attitudes towards the police may not be as asymmetrical as previously thought, particularly for changes in trust in procedural fairness and legitimacy. Policy implications include considering public-police interactions as ‘teachable moments’ and potential sources for enhancing police trustworthiness and legitimacy.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.springer.com/journal/10940
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors
Divisions: Methodology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2020 10:39
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2024 07:33
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/106544

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