Recent national survey data show relatively high levels of confidence in the police among the public. Not only has this level of confidence not changed much over the last 30 years, it even appears to have slightly increased. Yet, recent evidence of and national attention to racial bias in policing seems to challenge the notion of increasing public trust and confidence. How do we explain this inconsistency?
Social psychologists Phillip Goff and Tom Tyler will study the extent to which the progress measured in previous surveys masks large race-based gaps in trust, with non-whites much less trusting of law enforcement than whites. They will conduct a national-level survey with detailed measures of public attitudes about crime and public trust and confidence in the police, as well as measures of stereotype threat. Using this data, they will explore the conditions that generate feelings of trust and legitimacy, and analyze how the factors that create trust in law enforcement vary by race or ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic class, age and area of the country.