Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Procedural Justice and Identity: Comparing Evaluations of Police-Civilian Interactions

Katherine P Hazen, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


According to the law, a fair police investigation provides due process by ensuring civilians are not coerced to share incriminating information. Judges evaluate whether an investigative stop meets the requirements of due process by examining the situational and social context of the interaction. Procedural justice has been used to improve police-civilian relations in the U.S. Substantial research demonstrates that subordinates in different contexts, including police-civilian interactions, evaluate fairness based on voice, neutrality, trust, and respect. Although social identity is an important predictor and consequence of procedural justice, little research has examined how authority figures, including police officers, evaluate fairness. Three studies examined how being in a position of authority and social identity influence fairness evaluations. Study 1 observed how four rule-enforcing authorities investigate allegations against two suspects following instructions to use process-based decision-making procedures or not. The results revealed that rule-enforcing authorities instructed on process-based decision making provided more voice instrumentality and were more respectful but relied on evidence and explained their decisions to the same extent as those in the control condition. In Study 2, 70 undergraduate students to completed two tasks, once as an authority and once as a subordinate, in an online, minimal-group design. Participants evaluated how procedurally just their own and others’ decisions about sanctions were either with or without subordinates’ sanction preferences. Results revealed that participants evaluated themselves as providing significantly more procedural justice than when they were the subordinate. Non-significant patterns suggested that participants evaluated themselves more similarly to others when they represented their interests individually or with a superordinate group. Study 3 compared how 125 police officers and 159 civilians evaluated fairness in a procedurally just or unjust police-civilian interaction. Results revealed that police officers evaluated fairness through significantly different mechanisms than civilians and that those differences were explained by self-categorization with the police. This dissertation replicated and expanded on the procedural justice, policing, and intergroup processes literatures. Implications are discussed.

Subject Area

Psychology|Law|Law enforcement

Recommended Citation

Hazen, Katherine P, "Procedural Justice and Identity: Comparing Evaluations of Police-Civilian Interactions" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI28650252.