Master's Theses

Date of Award

Spring 1993

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Thomas T. Jackson


Amoroso and Ware (1981) found that young children have a positive attitude toward the police, but that this attitude decreases with older children, especially among males. Reiser (1970) suggests that many people react negatively toward the police because of the influence of the police officer's uniform. Frank and Gilovich's (1988) research found that those individuals who wore black uniforms were perceived as being more aggressive, and actually performed in a more aggressive manner than those individuals who wore uniforms of a different color. Several researchers have found a positive white/ negative black bias among children (Bhana, 1977; Porter, 1971; Sparks-Davidson, Rahman, & Hildreth, 1982). The present study investigated children's perceptions of police officers as a function of the uniforms that the police wear, the race of the police officers, and the children's gender. The results from the present study found a more positive perception of the black police officer than the white officer (n < .05), which is inconsistent with earlier research concerning color bias (Bhana, 1977; Porter, 1971; Sparks-Davidson et al., 1982). Contrary to past research (Amoroso & Ware, 1981), the present study also found that boys' and girls' perceptions of police officers are very similar. Results for the uniform condition approached conventional statistical significance (p = .09). Earlier studies found that citizens' perceptions of police officers were positively biased toward the traditionally uniformed police officer (Mauro, 1984). The present study found a more positive perception of the "plain clothes" police officer.


Copyright 1993 Margaret R. Letterman


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