Untangling the Complex Pathways to Confidence in the Police in South Korea: a Stepwise Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling Analysis

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Asian Journal of Criminology

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Studies on confidence in the police have employed three theoretical frameworks: (1) an instrumental model that focuses on the effect of police effectiveness and fear of crime, (2) an expressive model that emphasizes the role of general perception on social cohesion, and (3) a procedural model that highlights the distinct role of perceived police fairness. While studies have clarified specific pathways in the instrumental and expressive models, a comprehensive examination of all three models remains sparse in the field of criminal justice. Furthermore, existing studies rarely examined the multilevel causal structures of these models. This study aims to address these limitations by examining separate and comprehensive multilevel structural equation models (SEMs) of these theoretical frameworks. The data was collected through the multistage stratified random sampling from 12 boroughs of four metropolitan cities in South Korea, and a total of 2040 individuals were interviewed face-to-face. The results of the SEM analyses showed that perceived police fairness was the primary determinant of confidence in the police in South Korea, while fear of crime, perceived police effectiveness, and perceived social cohesion had a limited effect. Policy implications and suggestions for future studies are discussed.


Confidence in the police; Police fairness; Police effectiveness; Social cohesion; Fear of crime


Criminology and Criminal Justice



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