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Is bad stronger than good? The impact of police-citizen encounters on public satisfaction with police

Yudu Li (College of Criminal Justice, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)
Ling Ren (College of Criminal Justice, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)
Fei Luo (College of Criminal Justice, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 21 March 2016

1676

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing upon the negativity bias theory, the purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of positive and negative perceptions of police-initiated or citizen-initiated contacts on three distinctive dimensions of public satisfaction with police (PSWP).

Design/methodology/approach

The data were obtained from a random-sample telephone survey of 1,143 residents in Houston in 2012. The OLS regressions were conducted with variables derived from the contact model and neighborhood context model that were often employed in the PSWP research. Particularly, five dichotomous variables were created to tap into the nature and quality of the police-citizen encounters.

Findings

The results confirm the negativity bias theory that “bad is stronger than good,” suggesting that the negative-contact variables have stronger influences on PSWP than the positive-contact variables, net of neighborhood context and demographic background.

Originality/value

This study expands the scope of the investigation on PSWP by exploring the effects of the nature and quality of the police-citizen contacts on the respondents’ sentiments toward the police.

Keywords

Citation

Li, Y., Ren, L. and Luo, F. (2016), "Is bad stronger than good? The impact of police-citizen encounters on public satisfaction with police", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 39 No. 1, pp. 109-126. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-05-2015-0058

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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