Aggression Against Police Officers and Behavior Toward Citizens: Reciprocal Influence or Common Causes?

Lisa van Reemst*, Tamar Fischer, Frank Weerman

*Corresponding author for this work

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Police officers are often the victim of aggression by citizens, which has negative consequences for them and society in general. Therefore, it is important to gain knowledge about related factors. This study examines to what extent experiencing aggression as a police officer is related to their patience with citizens and use of force weapons and tools. Two explanations based on the victim-offender overlap are examined: experiences of aggression and behavior toward citizens influence each other vs. both have common causes. This study was conducted on the basis of a longitudinal survey among police officers (N = 693). The results show that behavior toward citizens, including patience with citizens and the use of force is related to the aggression police officers experience. The association decreases but does not disappear when common causes are taken into account, in this case socio-demographic and work-related characteristics. No direct support is found for reciprocal influence. Implications and suggestions for further research are described.

Original languageEnglish
Article number866923
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 van Reemst, Fischer and Weerman.

Research programs

  • SAI 2005-04 MSS


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