Moral motives, police legitimacy and acceptance of force

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Purpose: This study extends legitimacy theory by examining individualizing and binding moral motives and perceptions of police. Design/methodology/approach: Data are drawn from an online survey of the public (N = 961). OLS regression is used to predict global perceptions of legitimacy, as well as department legitimacy and acceptance of force in an experimental vignette that manipulates procedural justice. Findings: The binding moral motive is associated with greater global and department legitimacy and acceptance of force. The individualizing moral motive is associated with reduced global legitimacy and acceptance of force, and with department legitimacy when procedural justice is low. Perceptions of legitimacy mediate the effects of the binding moral motive on acceptance of force and of the individualizing moral motive when procedural justice is low. Research limitations/implications: This study identifies novel antecedents of police legitimacy and acceptance of force (i.e. binding and individualizing moral motives). Social implications: This study provides insight into public attitudes regarding use of force. Originality/value: This study is the first to propose and test a link between binding and individualizing moral motives and perceptions of police.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-815
Number of pages17
JournalPolicing
Volume43
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 10 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Public Administration

Keywords

  • Moral foundations theory
  • Police legitimacy
  • Police procedural justice
  • Police use of force

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