Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

William Fremouw

Committee Co-Chair

Michael Asken

Committee Member

Melissa Blank

Committee Member

Jeffrey Daniels

Committee Member

Barry Edelstein

Committee Member

Natalie Shook


Previous research has examined elements of police performance impacting community policing and police-citizen relationships, but no study has considered the impact of police use of profanity during arrest on public rating of force. Police profanity may negatively bias police-citizen interactions, and this bias could shape later interactions with community members, decrease the quality of police-community relations, or even result in public outcry over excessive use of force (White, Cox, & Baseheart, 1994). Further, profanity increases recipient physiological arousal in some settings (LaPointe, 2006) and aggressive behavior, which may exacerbate risk to the officer during an arrest and lead to more violent outcomes. Given these important concerns, the aim of this study was to determine whether officer use of profanity during arrest led to public perception of excessive force, and to examine whether incident variables (i.e., gender of the subject and gender of the officer) affected this relation. The results indicated that force was determined to be more excessive when profanity was used, when the subject was a female, and when the officer was a female. Participants who rated force as excessive had significantly more negative attitudes about police and police use of force. These findings have direct implications for police training and suggest that if police avoid the use of profanity, this could result in more positive relationships with the public and fewer allegations of excessive force. Future researchers should further evaluate the nature and impact of gender biases against female police, as they may contribute to reduced opportunities, less frequent promotion, and reduced self-efficacy in female officers.