Prejudice in the police: On the processes underlying the effects of selection and group socialisation


  • The study presented in this paper is part of the PhD thesis of the first author realised under the supervision of the second author. The two first authors contributed equally to this paper.


The principal aim of this study is to determine why police officers are generally found to be more prejudiced towards disadvantaged groups than are the standard population. Two independent processes were expected to account for this effect: Selection and group socialisation. Using a cross-sectional design (N = 170), firstly, we compared, newly recruited police officers with a control population (selection effect), and secondly, police officers with 1 year of training with the newly recruited ones (group socialisation effect). Results reveal a significant effect of both selection and group socialisation, the two being underlined by distinct processes; right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) in the case of the former and internalisation of a prejudice norm in the case of the latter. Finally, the results show that group identification moderates the change in internalisation of the prejudice norm. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.