Colleagues beware: Most would turn you in to the police

October 01, 2014, 1:16 PM GMT+0

Most wouldn't turn in their close family if they were wanted by the police, but co-workers better watch out

What if the police might be looking for someone you know: what would you do? In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, respondents were asked what they would do if they saw a picture of a criminal suspect and it resembled someone they knew. Would they tell the police, or tell the person, or do nothing?

Very close relatives seem to get a pass, but Americans are less sure what they would do about someone not in their immediate family. And as for friends and co-workers? More would contact the police than give their friend or co-worker warning and perhaps the benefit of the doubt.

60% would approach the police if they saw a suspect who looked like a co-worker, and 44% would do the same if they thought the police were looking for someone who looked like their aunt, uncle or cousin. But more would approach a member of their immediate family first, contacting their child, their parent or their sibling, and not the police, if they thought the police might be looking for them.

Some groups are more likely than other to call the police first: conservatives are more likely than liberals to say they would call the police in each of these circumstances, and the gap increases as the relationships get more distant. 51% of conservatives would call the police about a friend, compared with just 33% of liberals.

However, Republicans and Democrats pretty much agree on what they would do if the person involved were a close family member. Their biggest disagreements come when it comes to aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. Republicans are eight points more likely than Democrats to call the police in those cases. But 62% of Democrats and 66% of Republicans would call the police if a picture of a criminal suspect resembled a co-worker.

Liberals and conservatives would also take similar action if the suspect were a co-worker.

Those under 30 are less likely to call the police in that circumstance, though 51% in the age group still would.

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.