Race and Perceptions of Police: Experimental Results on the Impact of Procedural (In)Justice

Devon Johnson, David B. Wilson, Edward Maguire, Belén V. Lowrey-Kinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Procedural justice theory posits that people will view law and legal institutions as more legitimate and will be more willing to cooperate and comply with these institutions and their agents when treated in a procedurally just manner. While research supports this basic premise, questions remain about the influence of race on this process, especially in the wake of several recent highly publicized and controversial deadly force incidents involving white officers and black suspects. In this study, 546 participants were randomly assigned to view one of six videos depicting a simulated traffic stop. The videos featured three procedural justice conditions (positive, negative, and neutral) and two driver race conditions (white and African American). The findings showed that procedural justice improved encounter-specific assessments of police. Furthermore, black respondents assessed police less favorably than non-black respondents. In addition, the positive effect of procedural justice was larger when the driver was white.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1184-1212
Number of pages29
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 10 2017


  • attitudes
  • experiment
  • police
  • procedural justice
  • race
  • traffic stops

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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