Procedural injustice, police legitimacy, and officer gender: A vignette-based test of the invariance thesis

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Abstract

Role congruity theory suggests that gender-based stereotypes can result in female police officers paying a higher price (i.e., viewed as less legitimate) relative to male officers for mistreating people. The invariance thesis posits that the effect of (un)fair treatment by legal authorities on legal attitudes and beliefs is stable across situations, time, and space. This study tested the invariance thesis by assessing whether the effect of procedural injustice on police legitimacy differed across officer gender. A factorial vignette survey that consisted of two types of citizen-initiated police encounters was administered to a university-based sample (N = 525). The results showed that the effect of procedural injustice had a powerful and significant influence on participants' legitimacy perceptions. These effects were consistent regardless of whether the treatment was doled out by a male or a female police officer. The findings provide support for the invariance thesis.

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Brown, K. L., & Reisig, M. D. (2019). Procedural injustice, police legitimacy, and officer gender: A vignette-based test of the invariance thesis. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 37(6), 696–710. https://doi.org/10.1002/bsl.2439

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