I. Introduction

The Corona Virus is not the only pandemic that the United States has experienced recently. Systemic racism and police brutality were brought to the nations’ attention this past summer at the height of quarantine. The murder of George Floyd prompted thousands of protesters to take to the streets, despite the hard lockdown and curfew that were put in place in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

With fatal police shootings on the rise (source: Statista), I was curious to see whether a general sense of discomfort and distrust in the police force had developed among individuals. According to Statista, Black Americans are killed at a much higher rate than other ethnicities, so clearly police brutality is race-related.

In response to the killings, the acronym ACAB (All Cops are B******) gained widespread popularity. I wanted to study whether all cops were perceived as equally threatening, or whether cops of a certain race and sex were perceived as more threatening than others.

In order to test this question, I decided to focus on two factors with two levels each:

  • Race (Black and White)

  • Sex (Male and Female)

My three hypotheses were that people would be more likely to distrust and feel uncomfortable around white police officers and male police officers, and that people would be most likely to distrust and feel uncomfortable around white male police officers.

II. Methods

In order to study popular sentiment in regards to police officers, a Randomized Basic Factorial (RBF[2]) study was designed. A survey using Qualtrics was created in which each factor (race and sex) was crossed. An image depicting one of the following four conditions (White Male cop, White Female cop, Black Male cop, and Black Female cop) was randomly assigned to a participant. The participant was then asked to rate their emotional responses to the image on a scale of disagree-agree. The three follow-up questions were:

  1. I feel comfortable

  2. I trust this individual to protect me

  3. I would ask this individual for help

All participants had the same follow-up questions.

Mock Survey

One of the following conditions was randomly assigned to a participant. All of the participants were then asked to rank their emotional responses.