Date of Award
Program or Major
Doctor of Philosophy
Ellen S Cohn
The procedural justice model of legal socialization predicts that perceptions of legitimacy and cynicism toward rules mediate the relation between procedural justice and engagement in rule-violating behavior. This dissertation used a multi-methodological approach to test this model in terms of three authority figures: parents, police, and teachers. In Study 1, cross-sectional methodology was used to test the model in a community sample of adolescents and young adults. Participants completed online surveys assessing the degree to which they perceived three authority figures as procedurally fair, the degree to which they perceived the authorities as legitimate, how cynical they were about the legal system and how many rule-violating behaviors they engaged in during the past six months. Results showed that across all three authority types, perceptions of legitimacy and legal cynicism mediated the relation between procedural justice and engagement in rule-violating behavior.
In Studies 2 and 3 experimental methods were used to test the model in a sample of undergraduate college students (Study 2) and a community sample of adolescents and young adults (Study 3). Both studies employed similar methods. Participants read three scenarios describing an interaction between an individual and an authority figure. Within each scenario, voice and impartiality (components of procedural justice) were manipulated. After reading each scenario, participants completed measures assessing perceived legitimacy, rule cynicism, and the intent to violate a rule. Across both studies, voice and impartiality positively affected perceptions of legitimacy and negatively affected cynicism toward the rule. In turn, legitimacy was positively associated with the intent to violate a rule, while cynicism was negatively associated. The model operated differently as a function of authority type. In the parent and teacher scenarios, impartiality was a stronger predictor of legitimacy and cynicism than voice; however, in the police scenario, voice was a stronger predictor than impartiality.
The findings presented here support the procedural justice model of legal socialization and expand previous work to non-legal authorities, such as parents and teachers. They highlight that the decision to engage in rule-violating behavior is not determined solely by individuals' interaction with the criminal justice system, but is dependent on how they interact with a wide range of authority figures.
Trinkner, Rick, "Testing the procedural justice model of legal socialization: Expanding beyond the legal world" (2012). Doctoral Dissertations. 666.