Technology-Mediated Exposure to Police–Citizen Encounters: A Quasi-Experimental Assessment of Consequences for Citizen Perceptions

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Anecdotal evidence suggests that recent video-recorded police–citizen encounters have undermined police legitimacy and fueled civil unrest across the United States. Drawing from the process-based model of policing, social cognitive theory, and past research on media effects, we assess the influence of viewing cell phone videos of police–citizen encounters on perceptions of law enforcement. Using quasi-experimental methods and video footage of an actual police–citizen encounter captured on cell phones, the effects of viewing these videos are assessed using a series of repeated measure ANOVAs. Results indicate that viewing cell phone videos of police–citizen encounters significantly impacts perceptions of law enforcement, though little evidence of differing effects based on point-of-view, number of video exposures, or ordering of video exposures was found. The process-based model of policing should consider further incorporating the contributions of technology to provide a more holistic account of the factors influencing perceptions of police.