Procedural justice in contacts with the police: testing a relational model of authority in a mixed methods study
A relational model of authority (Tyler & Lind, 1992) emphasizes the role of procedural justice (the fairness of methods used to achieve outcomes) in public support for and evaluation of the police. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, this study tested the model in the context of victim-police interactions. In-depth interviews were conducted with 110 people who had reported a crime (personal or property) to the police in the previous year. Quantitative findings supported the predictions that higher perceived antecedents of procedural justice would be associated with higher perceived legitimacy (obligation to obey the law), outcome fairness, and satisfaction with the contact. Antecedents of procedural justice were a stronger predictor of outcome fairness and satisfaction than the realization of a desired outcome, and a stronger predictor of legitimacy than criminal history. Qualitative findings supported these results. It appears that procedural justice has the potential for helping to motivate individuals with criminal history to obey the law. Implications for evaluation of police performance are discussed.