Dissertations and Theses @ UNI

Availability

Open Access Thesis

Abstract

When calls are made to the police, the magnitude of their impact is often overlooked. When calls are made to the police and there is no crime, police resources, time, and energy could be wasted (Sampson, 2002); however, when no call is made to the police and there is a crime, human lives could be put in danger (e.g., Felson, Messner, Hoskin, & Deane, 2002). Based on highly publicized news reports, it appears that being a racial minority is enough motivation to call the police in some situations (e.g., napping or humanitarian work; Griggs, 2018; Williams, 2018b). Aversive racism theory (Gaertner & Dovidio, 1986) suggests that when racial prejudice can be rationalized to another factor aside from race, then aversive racists may act in discriminatory ways. Thus, a person may rationalize a call to the police based on someone yelling rather than their skin color. Risk averse motivation (Kahneman & Tversky, 1982) suggests that individuals prefer a certain choice compared to an uncertain choice. Thus, individuals who call the police could be risk averse and choose to call the police to provide a sense of certainty in an uncertain situation. In this study, I tested these two possible motivations using an ambiguous risk scenario. Participants (N = 295) from an online data collection platform read a scenario and reported their likelihood to call the police, whether they would call the police (yes/no), and whether they agreed with someone else’s decision to call the police based on the scenario. Then participants completed a risk perception scale. The race of the perceived suspect was not influential in the reported likelihood to call the police, whether a participant would call the police, or their agreement with someone else’s decision to call the police; however, participants who were risk averse, as well as women and political conservatives reported a greater likelihood to call the police, were more likely to report that they would call the police, and agreed more with someone else’s decision to call the police. Despite the results of the current study, there are still news reports that suggest racial minorities are the source of motivation for calls to the police. Thus, race as a potential motivation to call the police should be continued to be examined.

Year of Submission

2019

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Jiuqing Cheng, Chair

Date Original

2019

Object Description

1 PDF (VIII, 106 pages)

Language

en

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