- Postdoctoral Fellow in Law and Social Science
- The Justice Collaboratory
- Yale Law School
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019
Despite decades of declining crime rates, longstanding tensions between police and the public continue to frustrate the formation of cooperative relationships necessary for the function of the police and the provision of public safety. In response, policy makers continue to promote community-oriented policing (COP) and its emphasis on positive, non-enforcement contact with the public as an effective strategy for enhancing public trust and police legitimacy. Prior research designs, however, have not leveraged the random assignment of police-public contact to identify the causal effect of such interactions on individual-level attitudes toward the police. Therefore, the question remains: Do positive, non-enforcement interactions with uniformed patrol officers actually cause meaningful improvements in attitudes toward the police? Here, we report on a randomized field experiment conducted in New Haven, CT, that sheds light on this question and identifies the individual-level consequences of positive, non-enforcement contact between police and the public. Findings indicate that a single instance of positive contact with a uniformed police officer can substantially improve public attitudes toward police, including legitimacy and willingness to cooperate. These effects persisted for up to 21 d and were not limited to individuals inclined to trust and cooperate with the police prior to the intervention. This study demonstrates that positive non-enforcement contact can improve public attitudes toward police and suggests that police departments would benefit from an increased focus on strategies that promote positive police-public interactions.
Political scientists often measure anti-black prejudice using racial resentment, which blends anti-black animus with traditional moral values. Explicit prejudice, an “overt” attitude based in beliefs about group- level inferiority of blacks, is used less frequently. We use two experiments to investigate how these attitudes predict anti-black discrimination and evaluations of the fairness of intergroup inequality. Study 1 used the Ultimatum Game (UG) to obtain a behavioral measure of racial discrimination and found white responders engaged in costly discrimination against black proposers. Explicit prejudice explained which whites discriminated whereas racial resentment did not. In Study 2, white third-party observers evaluated intergroup interactions in the UG. Explicit prejudice explained racially biased evaluations of the fairness of offers by blacks to whites, but racial resentment did not. These results show resentment and prejudice are not synonymous and that explicit prejudice has clear behavioral implications.
Conditionally Accepted at American Political Science Review.
Why isn't there more support for redistribution in the United States? Political scientists have theorized that low trust in government depresses support for redistribution, but empirical support for this theory draws largely on regression analyses of survey data. I discuss the untestable assumptions required for identification with regression modeling and propose an alternative design that uses randomized experiments about political corruption to estimate the effect of trust in government on support for redistribution under weaker assumptions. I apply this approach to data from three independent survey experiments (N = 3,741) to estimate the impact that large experimentally-induced increases in political trust have on support for redistribution. Contrary to theoretical predictions, I find estimated effects that are substantively negligible and statistically indistinguishable from zero. This has implications for how we understand attitudes toward redistribution in an era of high and rising income inequality and eroding confidence in government.
icsw R package to estimate average treatment effects under non-compliance using inverse compliance score weighting
Last updated January 2020.