The Threat of Appearing Racist: Stereotype Threat and Support for Coercion Among Australian Police Officers

Molly Mccarthy, Rick Trinkner, Phillip Atiba Goff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent research in the United States has argued that the threat of confirming the “racist cop” stereotype may paradoxically increase the propensity for coercive policing by depressing officers’ self-legitimacy. The current study aimed to assess the influence of the threat of the “racist cop” stereotype on officers’ self-legitimacy and their attitudes toward force in an Australian policing jurisdiction. An online survey was completed by 306 frontline officers in Queensland, Australia. Structural equation modeling was used to assess the influence of stereotype threat on officers’ attitudes toward force, and the extent to which this is mediated by perceptions of self-legitimacy. The findings confirmed previous findings, with increased officer perceptions of stereotype threat associated with increased support for coercive policing, mediated by reduced self-legitimacy. The findings are discussed with reference to how the validity and salience of the “racist cop” stereotype can be diminished.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)776-790
Number of pages15
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Volume48
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Keywords

  • police coercion
  • racial disparities
  • self-legitimacy
  • stereotype threat
  • use of force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology(all)
  • Law

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