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Through the Blue Lens: Negative Publicity, Cognition, and Professional Self-Representation in Law Enforcement Officers

Beneda-Bender, Madison L 2018

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  • Title:
    Through the Blue Lens: Negative Publicity, Cognition, and Professional Self-Representation in Law Enforcement Officers
  • Author: Beneda-Bender, Madison L
  • Subjects: stress ; news media ; cognitive performance ; law enforcement
  • Description: Increased access to digital media has allowed for widespread proliferation of news coverage. Unfortunately, recent research has demonstrated a variety of acute negative outcomes associated with exposure to disturbing news content, such as increased negative affect, anxiety, and stress. Given the large body of literature demonstrating acute cognitive deficits in response to stressful stimuli, it is possible that exposure to stress-inducing negative media might negatively impact cognition. While a number of heavily publicized, high-profile negative interactions between police officers and citizens make this question particularly applicable to law enforcement samples, little research has addressed whether negative coverage of police activity result in acute cognitive deficits for officers exposed to such content. To address this gap, 30 veteran police officers completed a cognitive assessment battery both prior to and following exposure to either negatively-valenced or positively-valenced media clips in order to examine the effect of media exposure on officers’ performance on basic cognitive tasks. Officers also completed a series of questionnaires to explore the views that officers hold about themselves, the public’s perception of police officers, and the media within the context of their occupation. Results indicated that performance over time was not significantly influenced by exposure to valenced clips, though there were significant time effects for certain cognitive tests. Despite lack of acute cognitive decrements, officers did indicate that negative publicity surrounding officer activity makes it more difficult and dangerous to work in law enforcement. As perception of danger on the job has been linked to negative affective and behavioral consequences, future research should further explore connections between negatively valenced coverage of police activity and other areas of police performance, health, and well-being.
  • Creation Date: 2018
  • Language: English
  • Source: SHAREOK Repository

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