Humor with a Shade of Blue: Examining Humorous Exchanges during Police-Community Interactions
Christoff, Thomas E.
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A study of the antecedents for a police officer displaying a sense of humor was carried out as well as the effects of humor on elements of procedural justice and satisfaction. Surveys from 11,138 community members with recent police interaction in 51 communities were collected and analyzed. Information on demographic, incident, and community characteristics were utilized for the first part of the analysis (antecedents of officer humor). Community member perceptions of procedural justice elements and their overall satisfaction with the officer encounter were utilized for the second part of the analysis (effects of officer humor). Overall, demographics such as officer age, community member age, and community race were found to be significantly related to whether an officer displayed a sense of humor. Incident characteristics (such as who initiated the interaction and the type of crime involved) were also related to officer displays of humor, as well as community characteristics. When examining the effects of officer humor, there was a direct relationship with the community member’s overall satisfaction with the encounter. Officer humor’s effect on satisfaction was also mediated by elements of procedural justice (trustworthy, empathy, competence, and respectful), with empathy having the most salient relationship with humor.