• Perception of Police Encounters: An Investigation of Racial Differences, Anxiety, and Anger, Using Video and Transcript Stimuli

      Omelian, Sam; Department of Psychological Science (2017-06)
      Due to recent nationwide news reports involving police officers shooting and killing unarmed citizens, it is important to investigate the emotional potential impact of viewing these news sources. This study had two aims. The first aim was to investigate racial grouping differences in the perception of police and anxiety and anger levels towards police. Second, the project aimed to investigate whether the form of stimulus materials, video or transcript of a police encounter, affected participants’ responses. The sample consisted of 67 college age students from a southeastern university. Participants completed pretest anxiety and anger measures and a global perception of police scale. After viewing or reading about a police-citizen encounter, they completed posttest anxiety and anger measures. Results suggested that anxiety and anger increased significantly after viewing or reading about a police encounter, with the video stimulus creating stronger affective responses. Race did not significantly influence affective responses; however, Whites perceived police more positively than Non-Whites. In general, college students reported experiencing positive police encounters themselves. Findings confirm the power of visual media on affective responses and suggest that future researchers should think carefully about whether vignettes of police encounters are the best stimulus materials to use.