Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Wayne Harrison

Second Advisor

Kenneth A. Deffenbacher

Third Advisor

James M. Thomas


Previous research has shown that veteran police officers are more cynical than less experienced police officers. Research has also shown that veterans are more likely than less experienced officers to make dispositional attributions for the actions of suspects in interpersonal disputes. This study examined these two premises and the relationship between cynicism and attributions. Participants included 127 police officers and 70 undergraduate students who completed a cynicism scale and were then asked to read two scenarios depicting interpersonal disputes. Participants answered several questions pertaining to their attributions of responsibility and their perceptions of credibility of the suspect and the victim in each scenario. This study proposed that police officers differing in length of police service would also differ in their attributions of responsibility and perceptions of credibility of suspects and victims in interpersonal disputes. It was also proposed that veteran police officers would score higher in cynicism than less experienced officers. In addition, this study predicted that a relationship existed between cynicism and attributions of responsibility. No relationships or significant differences were found between length of police service and attributions of responsibility. There was some evidence that individuals differing in length of police service differed in their perceptions of credibility. No significant differences in cynicism were found as a function of length of police service. Although cynicism was not related to length of police service, exploratory analyses indicated that cynicism was inversely related to the total length of service, which included any previous military or police experience. No relationship was present between attributions of responsibility and cynicism as predicted by this study. The results of this study do not replicate previous research regarding police cynicism and attributions. The lack of significant differences in cynicism, attributions of responsibility, and perceptions of credibility indicates that there may be no need for a great deal of concern about changes in these aspects as police officers gain experience.

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