The effects of procedural injustice during police–citizen encounters: a factorial vignette study

Michael Reisig, Ryan D. Mays, Cody Telep

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study tested the effect of procedural injustice relative to being sanctioned by police on a variety of outcome measures, such as decision acceptance and immediate compliance, in two types of police–citizen encounters, traffic stops and noise complaints. Methods: A factorial vignette design was used to determine the effect that the manipulations (i.e., procedural injustice and receiving a citation) had on the dependent variables. Participants (N = 594) were randomly assigned one vignette scenario with four possible conditions. After reading the hypothetical encounter, closed-ended survey items were administered to participants. Results: The standardized regression coefficients from the ordinal regression models revealed that participants who were administered the procedural injustice stimuli are less satisfied with how the police resolved the encounter, reported that they are less likely to follow the police directives, said they are less willing to accept the officer’s decisions, and are more likely to wish the police had handled the situation differently. This pattern of findings was consistent in both types of police encounters. Importantly, support was also found for the hypothesis that procedural injustice is more salient in predicting outcomes than whether a citation is issued. Conclusions: The results support the process-based model of regulation and serve to underscore the influence of unfair police processes on encounter-specific outcome variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Criminology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Compliance
  • Police encounters
  • Satisfaction with police
  • Traffic stops
  • Vignettes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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