“Badge of Honor”: Honor Ideology, Police Legitimacy, and Perceptions of Police Violence

Aaron L. Pomerantz, Kevin Bell, Kevin Green, Stephen Foster, Mauricio Carvallo, Peyton Schow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Research indicates that police legitimacy is a function of how well police officers subscribe to community values, norms, and beliefs. Because such perceptions are likely to be culturally derived, the influence of culture on shaping community expectations for and responses to police brutality and violence should be examined. One specific cultural framework worthy of examination is honor ideology, as it values instrumental violence and aggression in defense of reputation, as well as the perceptions of the same, in a way that is relevant to the study of police violence. Study 1 utilizes publicly available data to examine if there is a relationship between the presence of a culture of honor and rates of police shooting within the USA. Results indicate that, as with other forms of aggression, honor does predict and uniquely explain police violence. Having established a relationship to exist between honor and police use of violence in Study 1, Study 2 experimentally examined this relationship as a function of individual perceptions of the legitimacy of police violence. Through a moderated-mediation approach, Study 2’s results indicate that honor endorsers perceive police officers as reflecting their personal values, believe it is their duty to reflect such values, and approve of police violence as a means of reputation management. The implications of these findings for the fields of both honor and police research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-489
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Law


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