Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Maria Hartwig

Committee Members

Angela Crossman

Steven Penrod

Marco Meyer

Par Anders Granhag

Subject Categories

Criminology and Criminal Justice | Law and Psychology | Social Psychology


Science Receptivity, Epistemic Virtue, Epistemic Vice, Evidence Based Policing, Police Interrogation


This dissertation investigates the underexplored relationship between character epistemology and its potential to explain behavior, decision-making, and culture within the criminal justice system, particularly the police. Building on the existing theoretical framework of evidence-based policing (EBP) and the recognized gap in understanding police receptivity to science, this study hypothesized that intellectual character at personal and collective levels positively correlates with science receptivity.

Epistemic character was defined through the aggregation of four traits: open-mindedness, defensiveness, insouciance, and groupthink. Science receptivity was measured by openness to change, desire to learn, reliance on intuition, and mistrust of science. Data were collected through surveys administered to police officers and analyzed to assess relationships between individual and collective epistemic virtues and science receptivity.

The results indicated that police officers with epistemically virtuous traits, especially open-mindedness, and avoidance of groupthink, demonstrated greater science receptivity. Specifically, they exhibited a greater desire to learn, openness to change, and trust in science. Conversely, officers displaying defensiveness and insouciance demonstrated lower science receptivity. Collective epistemic traits followed similar patterns with personal traits; however, collective epistemic virtue had only a small effect on an officer's receptivity to science when considered along with personal epistemic virtue.

Thus, at least at the personal level, epistemic virtue in police officers positively influences their receptivity to science. The findings shed light on the significance of fostering epistemic virtues in police. However, limitations and less definitive relationships between epistemic virtue and receptivity to evidence-based interrogation and training indicate a need for further research.

Future work should investigate the interaction between situational factors and epistemic traits. Specifically, research should examine how situational influences like leadership, compensation, and peer behavior interact with character traits. Such studies could provide insights into the role of epistemic character in policing, potentially aiding departments in fostering environments conducive to science receptivity.