This brief is based on the following paper:
Sargeant, E., Murphy, K., & Madon, N. S. (2018). Is dissatisfaction with police inevitable? Testing an integrated model of motivational postures and procedural justice in police-citizen contacts. Police Practice and Research,19(2), 125-137.
What problem is your research designed to address?
Points of contact between police and the public are important opportunities for police to improve police-citizen relationships (Murphy, 2009; Tyler & Folger, 1980). Police are often advised that they can improve the way citizens perceive them by using procedural justice in these police-citizen encounters. That is, when police are fair in their treatment of citizens, and in their decision-making processes (Reisig, Bratton & Gertz, 2007), citizens are more likely to leave the interaction feeling satisfied with that police encounter. However, police-citizen encounters are clearly a two-way street. What happens when a citizen approaches a police-citizen interaction with hostility? Can police foster satisfaction and positive attitudes in all circumstances?
Why is your research significant?
In most research on police-citizen interactions, researchers typically consider only what police can bring to the table. In this study we examine what can happen when a citizen approaches a police encounter with a resistant or disengaged attitude.
How did you conduct your research?
Our study draws on a national, longitudinal survey of Australians, collected between 2007 and 2009 (Murphy, Murphy, & Mearns, 2010a, 2010b). A total of 1190 survey participants completed the survey across the two waves of data collection and 440 of these respondents had at least one contact with police in the preceding 12-month period. We examined the level of resistance and disengagement that citizens brought into police-citizen encounters, as well as their perceptions of procedural justice and satisfaction with the encounter.
What are your major findings?
We find that when citizens enter police-citizen interactions with defiant attitudes toward the police that they are less likely to believe police are procedurally just and less likely to be satisfied with the police-citizen encounter.
What does your research mean for policy and practice?
Police are often advised that they should use procedural justice in police-citizen encounters and that this can help to increase citizen satisfaction with police. This is certainly important. However, we find that when members of the public approach police with a defiant attitude they are less likely to ‘receive the procedural-justice message’, and are less likely to be satisfied with the police-citizen encounter. These findings highlight the difficulties faced by the police when encountering public defiance.
Murphy, K. (2009). Public satisfaction with police: The importance of procedural justice and police performance in police-citizen encounters. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 42(2), 159–178.
Murphy, K., Murphy, B., & Mearns, M. (2010a). The 2007 public safety and security in Australia survey: Survey methodology and preliminary findings (Alfred Deakin Research Institute Working Paper No. 16). Geelong: Deakin University.
Murphy, K., Murphy, B., & Mearns, M. (2010b). The 2009 crime, safety and policing in Australia survey: Survey methodology and preliminary findings (Alfred Deakin Research Institute Working Paper No. 17). Geelong: Deakin University.
Reisig, M. D., Bratton, J., & Gertz, M. (2007). The construct validity and refinement of process-based policing measures. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 34(8), 1005–1028
Tyler, T. R., & Folger, R. (1980). Distributional and procedural aspects of satisfaction with citizen-police encounters. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 1(4), 281–292.