Connecting Control-Balance Theory and Police Cynicism : an Empirical Test




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Police are often the first point of contact between an individual and the criminal justice system, and as such, their attitudes and behaviors influence the public perception of law enforcement and the legitimacy of the criminal justice system. Extant research on control-balance theory has identified that an imbalance between the amount of control an individual experiences from and the amount of control that they exert over others and their environment can lead to negatively perceived, or deviant, behaviors in individuals. Additionally, cynicism in police has been argued to result as a response to organizational anomie stemming from a transition to professionalism post-Reform Era. However, it is rare that a study will use police misconduct as the outcome variable, often opting to use integrity as a proxy for likelihood of misconduct by gauging officer reactions to vignettes portraying misconduct behavior. This dissertation uses a sample of law enforcement officers to establish a theoretical extension to control-balance theory, with findings indicating a significant relationship between control deficit, or lack of control, to more cynical attitudes. This is then used to predict the likelihood of misconduct by measuring complaints against the officer and violations of the disciplinary code. Data were collected as part of the larger project Police Integrity and Accountability in Philadelphia: Predicting and Assessing Police Misconduct, a study originally presented in 2004 by Greene and colleagues in collaboration with the Philadelphia Police Department and the United States Department of Justice.



Philadelphia (Pa.). -- Police Department, Police misconduct, Deviant behavior, Criminology -- Methodology


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