Nurturing regulatory compliance: Is procedural justice effective when people question the legitimacy of the law?
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Procedural justice generally enhances an authority's legitimacy and encourages people to comply with an authority's decisions and rules. We argue, however, that previous research on procedural justice and legitimacy has examined legitimacy in a limited way by focusing solely on the perceived legitimacy of authorities and ignoring how people may perceive the legitimacy of the laws and rules they enforce. In addition, no research to date has examined how such perceptions of legitimacy may moderate the effect of procedural justice on compliance behavior. Using survey data collected across three different regulatory contexts - taxation (Study 1), social security (Study 2), and law enforcement (Study 3) - the findings suggest that one's perceptions of the legitimacy of the law moderates the effect of procedural justice on compliance behaviors; procedural justice is more important for shaping compliance behaviors when people question the legitimacy of the laws than when they accept them as legitimate. An explanation of these findings using a social distancing framework is offered, along with a discussion of the implications the findings have on enforcement.
Regulation & Governance
Criminology not elsewhere classified
Law and Society