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Using a Vignette Research Design to Examine Traffic Stop Decision Making of Police Officers: A Research Note

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Policy Review Volume: 20 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2009 Pages: 495-506
Scott W. Phillips
Date Published
December 2009
12 pages
This study used a vignette research design to examine police officers' traffic stop decisionmaking process.
A variety of data collection methods have been used to examine an officer's decision to stop a vehicle. Most research examines poststop behavior, and no single method has been able to obtain all the relevant independent variables for a comprehensive examination of this behavior. This study uses vignettes describing a traffic stop incident. Driver characteristics, vehicle characteristics, and traffic violations are included as independent variables. Officers from three law enforcement agencies are provided two traffic stop vignettes. Officers indicate their likelihood of stopping a vehicle based on vignette information. Vehicle characteristics and traffic violations influence the likelihood of stopping a vehicle. Officers in smaller police agencies are significantly more likely to stop a vehicle than are Sheriff's deputies. Tables, appendix, and references (Published Abstract)