Public perceptions: Variability – PSP NET

Public perceptions: Variability

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Public perception

Public perception is a complicated variable in PSP life both for the PSP and for their families. With negative media coverage comes the possibility of altering the public perception of a particular PSP sector. Unfortunately, public perception has been found to often be sector specific based on overgeneralizations and stereotypical representations. Overall, how a PSP member and their family are perceived by the public depends heavily on the career they work. Firefighters, for example, are often revered among the public. Paramedics and similar emergency medical service careers are also noted to be viewed positively by the public. Studies have found paramedics and EMTs as viewed by the public to be working a career of high social prestige comparable to that of doctors and midwives. The praise felt by those working the careers, can also be felt by their family members who may develop a sense of pride in their partner’s/parent’s role; as well, they may receive direct forms of praise from the public for the work their PSP member does.

In contrast, police officers are often scrutinized and seen with “public suspicion and disdain”. These negative perceptions of PSP careers are multi-faceted due to the nature of their work and are made more challenging due to their presentation in the news/social media, their uniform appearance on-job, and the changing societal views of what is/isn’t acceptable in relation to matters concerning many PSP careers (ex: prison sentencing, police use-of-force, etc.). The negative public perceptions upon these workers and their careers are often shared with the PSP’s family, particularly spouses/partners and children. Overall, due to the variability of public perceptions in PSP work, the public sentiment – be that positive, negative or absent – is felt by PSP families and can impose pride or shame that can impact the overall health of the family unit.

Public perception impact on PSPs and their families

Public perception and family support to PSPs

Coping strategies with public perception

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