Turning the Corner on Procedural Justice Theory: Exploring Reverse Causality with an Experimental Vignette in a Longitudinal Survey

Journal of Experimental Criminology, Forthcoming

13 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2019

See all articles by Rick Trinkner

Rick Trinkner

Arizona State University

Ryan D. Mays

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Criminology & Criminal Justice

Ellen Cohn

University of New Hampshire - Department of Psychology

Karen T. Van Gundy

University of New Hampshire

Cesar J. Rebellon

University of New Hampshire

Date Written: July 17, 2019

Abstract

Objectives: Traditional police procedural justice theory argues that citizen perceptions of fair treatment by police officers increases police legitimacy, which leads to an increased likelihood of legal compliance. Recently, Nagin and Telep (2017) criticized these causal assumptions, arguing that prior literature has not definitively ruled out reverse causality — i.e., that legitimacy influences perceptions of fairness and/or compliance influences perceptions of both fairness and legitimacy. The goal of the present paper was to explore this critique using experimental and correlational methodology within a longitudinal framework.

Methods: Adolescents completed a vignette-based experiment that manipulated two aspects of officer behavior linked to perceptions of fairness: voice and impartiality. After reading the vignette, participants rated the fairness and legitimacy of the officer within the situation. At three time points prior to the experiment (1, 17, and 31 months) participants completed surveys measuring their global perceptions of police legitimacy and self-reported delinquency. Data were analyzed to assess the extent to which global legitimacy and delinquency predicted responses to the vignette, net of experimental manipulations and controls.

Results: Both experimental manipulations led to higher perceptions of situational procedural justice and officer legitimacy. Prior perceptions of police legitimacy did not predict judgments of situational procedural justice; however, in some cases prior engagement in delinquency was negatively related to situational procedural justice. Prior perceptions of legitimacy were positively associated with situational perceptions of legitimacy regardless of experimental manipulations.

Conclusions: This study showed mixed support for the case of reverse causality among police procedural justice, legitimacy, and compliance.

Suggested Citation

Trinkner, Rick and Mays, Ryan D. and Cohn, Ellen and Van Gundy, Karen T. and Rebellon, Cesar J., Turning the Corner on Procedural Justice Theory: Exploring Reverse Causality with an Experimental Vignette in a Longitudinal Survey (July 17, 2019). Journal of Experimental Criminology, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3421580 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3421580

Rick Trinkner (Contact Author)

Arizona State University ( email )

411 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States

Ryan D. Mays

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Criminology & Criminal Justice

411 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States

Ellen Cohn

University of New Hampshire - Department of Psychology ( email )

Durham, NH 03824
United States

Karen T. Van Gundy

University of New Hampshire

15 College Road
Durham, NH 03824
United States

Cesar J. Rebellon

University of New Hampshire ( email )

15 College Road
Durham, NH 03824
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
14
Abstract Views
218
PlumX Metrics