Attitude toward the Police: The Significance of Race and Other Factors Among College Students

Jospeter M. Mbuba, Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne

Abstract

Various factors have been identified by previous studies as predictive of citizens’ attitudes toward the police, but there has not been as much effort to establish whether higher educational attainment has any effect on the gap between the various population groups that typically differ in their perception of the police. This study tests for the effect of race and other factors on the attitude of college students toward the police. Students in a mid-sized 4-year public university were presented with an instrument of 14 statements and asked to indicate the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with each of them on a 5-point Likert scale. A comparison of the mean responses was made and independent t-tests were established by race, gender, prior police encounter, and academic major. The attitudinal differences were most significant by race followed by gender, whereas the differences by prior police encounter and academic major failed to rise to statistical significance. The implications are discussed.