Understanding the impact of institutional betrayal on individuals’ perceptions of authority
Filomeno, Emilio T.
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Individuals’ perceptions and attitudes towards authority figures are determined by the nature of their interactions with this group of individuals (Chow, 2012). Studies have indicated that the way people feel about authority figures like the police is associated with the way we feel about other authority figures such as teachers and parents (Brandt, 2000). In saying that, police officers, as authority figures, also work as law enforcers for the criminal justice system. In doing so, these individuals act on behalf of this institution. So, do the effects of negative interactions with police officers parallel those of institutional betrayal? Institutional betrayal is when an institution fails to adequately respond or provide support in response to trauma that is perpetrated upon an individual who is dependent on that institution (Smith & Freyd, 2014). This study hopes to understand how experiencing institutional betrayal at the hands of powerful organizations (and the people working for these power institutes) can ultimately impact perceptions towards authority in general. Two screening tools, the Trauma History Questionnaire (THQ) and Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire (IBQ), along with the Just World Scale (JWS) and General Attitudes towards Institutional Authority Scale (GAIAS) were used to determine individuals' perceptions and attitudes towards authority in the context of institutional betrayal. The results of the study suggested that experiencing institutional betrayal did not play a significant role in altering individuals’ perceptions and attitudes towards authority.