Research press release



Human behaviour: Familiarity with police officers could reduce crime

地元住民にその地域を担当する警察官たちに関する情報を提供すると、犯罪率が低下する可能性があることを示唆する論文が、Nature に掲載される。実験室での研究と現地調査の結果から、私たちの匿名性の感覚は、他人が自分たちについて何を知っているのかだけでなく、自分たちが他人について何を知っているのかにも依存していることが示唆された。

他人との社会的関係は対称的なものだと思われがちだが、必ずしもそうとは限らない。今回、Anuj ShahとMichael LaForestは、実験室内での標準的な心理学研究を実施し、他人のことをもっと深く知るようになると、その人が自分のことをもっと深く知っていると信じ込むようになる可能性があることを明らかにした。私たちの匿名性の感覚が低下して、自分の考えや行動が他人に明らかになっているかもしれないという過大な認識を持つ可能性があるという。これまでの研究では、自分の匿名性が保たれていると認識していると、不誠実な行動や有害な行動が増える場合があることが示唆されているが、他人が自分のことをよく知っており、自分の行動に慣れていると思うようになれば、匿名性の感覚が行動に及ぼす悪影響の一部を減らせる可能性がある。



Providing residents with information about their neighbourhood police officers may reduce crime rates, suggests a Nature paper. The combined results from laboratory and field studies suggest that our sense of anonymity depends not only on what people know about us, but also on what we know about them.

People often assume that their social ties with others are symmetrical, but that is not always the case. Anuj Shah and Michael LaForest use standard lab-based psychological studies to show that learning more about others might make us believe they know more about us, too. We might feel less anonymous, and believe that our thoughts and behaviours could seem more obvious to others than they actually are. Previous research suggests that perceived anonymity can increase dishonest or harmful behaviour, but if people believe that others know more about them, and are more attuned to their actions, this could reduce some negative behavioural consequences of anonymity.

To understand how the social asymmetries that they found in the lab might affect perceptions and actions, the authors selected 69 public housing developments in New York City. Thirty-nine of these were provided with information about neighbourhood police officers (such as their favourite food, sports teams and hobbies); the remaining 30 were used as a control, and not provided with any interventions. They then surveyed 1,858 residents to assess their perceptions of what officers knew about them, and how likely they thought it was that an officer would know whether they committed a crime. For the first three months after the intervention, the authors estimated an approximately 5–7% reduction in crime in the neighbourhoods that received the information relative to those that did not, a similar reduction to that of increasing police presence in a given area.

The authors suggest that residents who had more information about local officers may have believed officers would be more aware of their illegal activity, therefore reducing their criminal behaviour. This could help to explain why door-to-door visits from officers are more effective at reducing crime than other components of community policing, such as neighbourhood watches or storefront officers. Although broader reforms are necessary to reduce disparities and increase trust in policing, one way to reduce crime could be to provide the community with more information about neighbourhood officers, the authors argue.

doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-04452-3

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