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Expanding ‘Appropriate’ Police Behavior Beyond Procedural Justice: Bounded Authority & Legal Legitimation

28 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2016 Last revised: 21 Aug 2017

Rick Trinkner

Arizona State University

Jonathan Jackson

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Methodology

Tom Tyler

Yale University - Law School

Date Written: August 22, 2017

Abstract

This paper expands previous conceptualizations of appropriate police behavior beyond procedural justice. The focus of the current study is on the notion of bounded authority – i.e. respecting the limits of one’s power. Work on legal socialization shows how citizens come to acquire three dimensions of values that determine how authorities ought to behave: (a) neutral, consistent and transparent decision-making; (b) interpersonal treatment that conveys respect, dignity and concern; and (c) respect for the limits of rightful authority. Using survey data from a nationally representative sample of US adults, we show that concerns over bounded authority, respectful treatment, and neutral decision-making combine to form a strong predictor of police and legal legitimacy. Legal legitimacy is also associated with greater compliance behavior, controlling for personal morality and perceived likelihood of sanctions. Our conclusions address some future directions of research, particularly in the extension of procedural justice theory.

Keywords: Procedural justice, Legal socialization, Legitimacy, Public contact with the police, Trust, Compliance, Policing by consent

JEL Classification: K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Trinkner, Rick and Jackson, Jonathan and Tyler, Tom, Expanding ‘Appropriate’ Police Behavior Beyond Procedural Justice: Bounded Authority & Legal Legitimation (August 22, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2846659 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2846659

Rick Trinkner (Contact Author)

Arizona State University ( email )

411 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States

Jonathan Jackson

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Methodology ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+0044-207-955-7652 (Phone)

Tom Tyler

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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