Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 5 Issue 5 (December 1995), Pages fmi-IV, 291-372

Seeing themselves as others see them: Scottish police officers' metaperceptions of public opinion (pages 311-326)


This study used Hopkins et al.'s public attitudes questionnaire to investigate the metaperceptions of Scottish police officers (i.e. their perceptions of how they are perceived by the general public), and compared these to the actual responses of members of the public on the same instrument. It was found that the public were moderately favourable towards the police, both in their attitudes towards the police and the law in general (Scale A) and in their stereotypes of police behaviour and demeanour (Scale B). The police had an accurate perception of this favourability in the context of Scale A, but were significantly optimistic about public response on Scale B. In addition, they significantly underestimated the extent to which the public saw the two scales as related to one another. The results are discussed in terms of the false consensus bias, and in‐group‐out‐group homogeneity.

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