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An examination of the impact of accountability and blame culture on police judgments and decisions in critical incident contexts

Waring, Sara (2011) An examination of the impact of accountability and blame culture on police judgments and decisions in critical incident contexts. Doctoral thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Abstract

The following thesis examines the impact of accountability on police judgments and decisions within critical incident contexts. Previous accountability research has often failed to balance experimental control with naturalistic context, thereby preventing the development of an integrated socio-cognitive model. Despite the increase in police accountability over the last few decades (Punch, 2009), there has also been a lack of systematic focus on the influence this evaluation mechanism has on policing. Level of risk posed to public safety in critical incidents and the potential for police actions to increase as well as decrease this risk heightens the importance of identifying and understanding factors that influence police judgments and decisions (Ask & Granhag, 2005). Overall, the thesis seeks to both advance theoretic development and highlight practical implications for policing using a combination of experimental and naturalistic methods and theories from traditional, organisational and naturalistic decision paradigms. Research conducted therefore acknowledges the complexity of policing contexts whilst distinguishing the influence of accountability from other factors. In total, five data chapters are presented that comprise of both qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data consists of transcripts from electronic focus groups, debriefs and questionnaires that are analysed using thematic analysis. Quantitative data consists of police responses to a vignette and a simulation. Findings indicate that accountability may influence police judgments and decisions by altering emotions, motivational goals and attention focus. The influence of this social mechanism may depend on police perceptions of the organisational culture driving the form accountability takes. This thesis will highlight that accountability is most likely to encourage optimal performance when police view the organisation to provide a supportive environment with legitimate and fair appraisal mechanisms. This is in contrast to an unfair, illegitimate environment driven by a culture of blame. Within a supportive environment, police are more likely to be motivated by accuracy than self-preservation. A supportive environment also encourages attention to remain focussed on providing judgments and decisions suitable for the situation rather than becoming distracted by anxiety over the potential to be blamed and punished.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Accountability, Judgment, Decision Making
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments, Research Centres and Related Units:Academic Faculties, Institutes and Research Centres > Faculty of Science > Department of Psychology
Status:Unpublished
ID Code:5275
Deposited On:07 Aug 2012 09:05
Last Modified:07 Aug 2012 09:05

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