Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Matthew M Martin

Committee Co-Chair

Nicholas D Bowman

Committee Member

Elizabeth L Cohen

Committee Member

Keith D Weber

Committee Member

David K Westerman


In the everyday interactions between law enforcement and the citizens of their communities, officers attempt to gain compliance verbally, before resorting to physical force, if necessary. This dissertation examined the use of persuasive verbal messages by law enforcement officers when encountering citizens. These messages were created to represent a progression of asking, telling, and making, to gain compliance from an individual.;The officers in this study were university police officers, because university police departments are charged with providing a safe learning environment on campus. Due to the visible, community oriented policing in which university police departments tend to engage, it is likely that students would have an interaction with a campus police officer, and that this interaction might call for an officer to make a request or demand of the student. Furthermore, given the ubiquity of communication technology (e.g., social media) on college campuses, it is likely that police and students would communicate not only in-person, but also via computer-mediated channels.;The study in this dissertation utilized a 3 (ask, tell, make) X 2 (emergency, nonemergency) X 2 (face-to-face, computer-mediated communication) experimental design, in which participants (N = 190) were assigned randomly to one of 12 conditions. The measured outcomes were propensity to comply with a police officer, perceptions of the police officer, and perceptions of the officer's conversational appropriateness.;Results indicated a significant main effect for message manipulation, such that participants rated perceptions of officer conversational appropriateness and perceptions of law enforcement more favorably when the hypothetical officer used an ask-framed message, rather than a make-framed message. Furthermore, the results indicated a significant main effect for communication channel, such that participants perceived the police officer to be more conversationally appropriate in the FtF condition than in the CMC condition. Additional post-hoc results, theoretical implications, practical applications, limitations, and future directions for research in this area of communication studies are discussed.