Procedural Fairness Works

In the nomenclature of the American Judges Association, we use the term, “procedural fairness.” Academics sometimes use the term “procedural deterrence.”  There is a very interesting, albeit a bit heavy, new study that supports much of what AJA has advocated since the AJA White Paper on Procedural Fairness.

Kristina Murphy, Ben Bradford and  Jonathan Jackson (Griffith University, University of Oxford – Centre for Criminology and London School of Economics & Political Science – Department of Methodology) have posted Motivating Compliance Behavior Among Offenders: Procedural Justice or Deterrence? (Criminal Justice and Behavior, Forthcoming) on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

Research shows that procedural justice can motivate compliance behavior through the mediating influence of either legitimacy or social identity. Yet few studies examine the relative importance of these two mediators in the same analysis. Using three waves of longitudinal survey data collected from 359 tax offenders we examine: (a) whether procedural justice is important to offenders’ decisions to comply with their future tax obligations over and above fear of sanctions; and (b) whether legitimacy and social identity processes mediate the relationship between procedural justice and compliance. Our results reveal that: (1) legitimacy mediates the effect of procedural justice on compliance; (2) social identity mediates the procedural justice/compliance relationship; (3) identity seems to matter slightly more than perceptions of legitimacy when predicting tax compliance; (4) perceived risk of sanction plays a small but counterproductive role in predicting tax compliance. We conclude that normative concerns dominate taxpayers’ compliance decisions. Our findings have implications for understanding compliance behavior, but also for conceptualizing why and how procedural justice can motivate such behavior.

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