Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Mark Fondacaro

Committee Members

Kevin Nadal

Steve Penrod

Mark Fondacaro

Subject Categories

Law and Psychology | Psychology


use of force, policing, race, resistance, policy, disrespect


Research suggests that civilian characteristics such as race, gender, and age may influence use of force decisions by police. The purpose of the current research is to determine whether these civilian characteristics influence officers’ and community members’ evaluations of police-civilian encounters along dimensions of resistance, disrespect, and the appropriate use of force. It also examines whether perceptions of resistance and disrespect mediate the relationship between civilian characteristics and police use of force. Four-hundred thirty police officers and 571 community members participated in this study. Overall, this study provides the beginning of a much-needed line of research investigating the role of civilian characteristics on perceptions of resistance and disrespect and judgments about use of force. The findings produced here suggest that officers make decisions about the appropriate amount and necessity of force in different ways as a function of varying characteristics such as race, gender, and age, and that the intersection of those different identities has the potential to produce adverse outcomes during police-civilian encounters. The implications of these findings include the need to evaluate current use-of-force training and policies in place within police agencies.