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Procedural justice perceptions, legitimacy beliefs, and compliance with the law: a meta-analysis

  • Glenn D. Walters
  • P. Colin Bolger
Article

Abstract

Objectives

The purpose of this study was to compare procedural justice and legitimacy as correlates and predictors of compliance with the law.

Methods

A literature review produced 64 studies, 95 samples, and 196 effect sizes from studies published or conducted sometime between 1990 and February 2018 in which procedural justice was correlated with legitimacy and/or compliance, or legitimacy was correlated with compliance. Fifty samples included all 3 correlations, 3 samples included 2 correlations, and the remaining 42 samples included a single correlation. Two random effects meta-analyses were performed.

Results

Pooled univariate effects for all three correlations achieved significance. Although there was a high degree of heterogeneity in the results and modest evidence of publication bias in one of the subsamples, sensitivity testing indicated that no one study had an undue influence over the results. Using a generalized least squares (GLS) multivariate approach, a path analysis revealed a significant a path from procedural justice to legitimacy, a significant b path from legitimacy to compliance, and a significant c’ path from procedural justice to compliance, but only the a and b paths were significant when the analysis was restricted to studies with longitudinal data.

Conclusions

The current findings suggest that legitimacy beliefs are instrumental in promoting compliance with the law and that while procedural justice perceptions also appear to predict compliance, the effect was relatively weak in this meta-analysis and could not be reliably established in longitudinal datasets.

Keywords

Procedural justice Legitimacy beliefs Compliance with the law Meta-analysis 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeKutztown UniversityKutztownUSA

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