This study examined how disputants’ gender and sexual orientation influence police officers’ perceptions of an intimate partner violence (IPV) incident. A sample of 273 police officers from 27 states in the US completed an online research study that provided scenarios depicting an IPV incident that manipulated perpetrator and victim gender and sexual orientation. Results showed officers rated the heterosexual male perpetrator more of a threat of danger to others compared to gay male, lesbian, or heterosexual female perpetrators. Heterosexual female and gay male perpetrators were least likely to be perceived as harming their partner in the past compared to lesbian and heterosexual male perpetrators. Officers were also likely to believe victims of female perpetrators were more responsible for the IPV incident and more of a danger to family members than victims of male perpetrators. Victims of male perpetrators were considered more credible and victims of lesbian and heterosexual male perpetrators were believed to exhibit more thoughts and behaviors indicative of mental illness. Taken together, results suggest police perceptions of potential danger, likelihood of past or future harm to their partner, and victim credibility are influenced by disputant gender and sexual orientation.
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