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Procedural justice policing and citizen compliance behaviour: the importance of emotion

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Research consistently finds that if authorities use procedural justice in encounters with the public then this will promote citizen cooperation and compliance with the law. Recently, the importance of people's emotional reactions in response to procedural justice and injustice, and the subsequent effect this has on behaviour have been examined. This paper utilises a multi-method approach to examine the mediating role that negative affect plays in the effect of procedural justice policing on citizen compliance behaviour. Study 1 utilises both cross-sectional and longitudinal field survey data collected from Australian citizens who have had a recent contact with a police officer. Study 2 utilises an experimental vignette study designed to assess the causal mechanisms involved in the procedural justice–emotion–compliance relationship. Both studies find that procedural justice is linked to people's self-reported propensity to comply with police. Study 1 and 2 also find that negative affect mediates this relationship. These findings have important implications for training police to interact with the public in a manner that reduces negative emotions and ensures the highest level of compliance from the public.
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Keywords: behaviour; compliance; emotions; police; procedural justice

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, QLD, Australia

Publication date: March 16, 2015

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