Skip to main content
Search form
  • 00:00


  • 00:12

    JONATHAN JACKSON: My name is Jonathan Jackson.I'm a professor of research methodology at the LondonSchool of Economics.I teach graduate students from departmentsfrom across the school.I teach consultative methods, so introduction to statistics,applied regression.I teach survey methodology, and I teach research design.And I do this in an interdisciplinary context,

  • 00:34

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: so we have students from many different disciplinesin the classroom.[Your research is primarily focused on procedural justiceand policing; what is procedural justice?]So the idea of procedural justiceis that when people have encounters with a powerhold or a legal authority, they areparticularly sensitive to how they were treated.

  • 00:54

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: So they are interested in whether the policeofficer treats them with respect and dignity.They're interested in whether the policeofficer is objective and neutral in their decision making.They're interested in whether the policeofficer is displaying trustworthy motives, i.e.that the officer is taking their interestinto account and their interest in having some kind of voice.They want to say, why have you stopped me?

  • 01:16

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: Here's my perspective.They want to feel part of the decision making process.And the idea is that procedural justice does two things.Firstly, procedural justice conveys status and valuewithin a group.The police represent an important groupwithin society-- typically society.And when a police officer treats you with respect and dignity

  • 01:36

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: this conveys a sense of worth within that group.You feel like a respected member of society.The second part of procedural justice that's importantis that procedural fairness legitimates.So there's a key normative expectationwithin many societies.The police officers, when they wield their power,should wield that power in procedurally fair ways.

  • 01:58

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: That is, they should respect people.They should make decisions in neutral waysand objective ways.And if this is a key norm that legitimates,then this explains why we see persistently strongpositive associations between procedural justiceand legitimacy.In essence, procedural justice legitimates institutions

  • 02:18

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: in the eyes of citizens.[What are the aims of your research?]Our research aims to do two things.One, it aims to see whether this theory is portable.So we're trying to take it out of the US contextand see whether it applies, whether ittravels across borders.So a lot of our work has been looking

  • 02:38

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: at where the procedural justice theory worksin countries across Europe.We've also done work in Brazil, South Africa, Australia, etcetera.So the idea is that this theory may be particularlyapplicable to the US context.Or maybe it's based on psychological mechanisms thattranslate across diverse social, political, and legal contexts.

  • 03:02

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: So that's the first goal of our work--to see whether this stuff is portable.Our second goal is to explore in more detail whether the thingsthat legitimate the police vary.So it may be that outside of the US,other considerations outside of procedural justiceare just as important.

  • 03:22

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: Maybe there's different norms of how legal authorities shouldact, different expectations about whatlegitimates legal authorities in different contexts.And the third goal is to drill into the nature of legitimacyitself.So we're interested in thinking about what legitimacy means,how it should be defined, and what it might motivate.

  • 03:45

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: [How was your research carried out?Which methods did you choose and why?]There are a number of different studiesthat myself and colleagues have been involved in.I'll start with, perhaps, the major one.So this was work we did with the European social survey.Myself and a number of other colleaguesapplied for space in the European social survey.

  • 04:08

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: So this is a survey that runs every two years,covers 25 to 30 countries-- member statesthe European Union.It has a core questionnaire, where certain questionsare asked every two years.And then every two years it has one, two, or three

  • 04:28

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: different rotating modules.So these are dedicated sets of questions,and they go out to competitive tender in some sense.So you have a group of academics from across Europewho make a bid to the European social surveyto say we need 45-50 questions on a certain topic.

  • 04:52

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: So this is an opportunity for the European social surveyto drill into a particular issue in a lot of depth.The application process is quite strict and tough.So the bid involves a long documentto say, why should Europeans need to knowabout a particular issue.What re the theoretical and policy implications

  • 05:16

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: of this particular topic?What are the conceptual and theoretical standpoints?What are some indicative measures?So myself and colleagues put togethera bid to say to the European social surveythat we need 45 questions, 50 questions on what peoplethink about their criminal justice system.So we put together a bid to say it's important

  • 05:37

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: that we know about the levels of trustin the police and the criminal courts,whether people think the police and criminal courtsare legitimate, whether people comply with the law,cooperate with the legal authorities, the sortsof encounters that they've had recently with police officers.And a particular goal of this modulewas to test procedural justice theory across diverse social,

  • 05:60

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: political, and legal contexts.So we were lucky enough to win the bid.We then entered into an 18-month processwhich involved methodological development, expert reviews,cognitive interviews, piloting, et cetera.This led to the design of 45 questions, which

  • 06:21

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: allowed us to test procedural justicetheory across these different countries.12 months later, the data come back.And we are able and we have tested this theory across allof these different contexts.And it's interesting to find that a lot

  • 06:43

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: of the key predictions are consistent across allof these different countries.So it looks like there are strong correlationsbetween people's encounters with the policeand, particularly, whether they were satisfiedwith how the police treated them in those encounters,strong correlations between those encounters,whether people trust the police to be effective and fair,

  • 07:05

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: whether people believe that the police arelegitimate authorities, and also whether theyare willing to cooperate with the policein the criminal courts.So we're finding that certain key predictions seemto persist across lots of different countries, whichsuggests that these are psychological mechanisms that

  • 07:26

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: generalize, that are not, in some sense, moderatedby national context.[You mentioned that procedural justice "legitimizes;"how has your research approached the notion of legitimacy?]We approached the notion of legitimacy along two lines.So we define legitimacy as both the perceivedright to power-- in some sense, the moral appropriateness

  • 07:48

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: of an institution-- and the entitlementto be obeyed-- in some sense, a felt moral dutyto obey the instructions of a particular institution.So we approached the notion of appropriatenessthrough the idea of normative alignment.So this is the idea that people think.They believe that the police act in normatively appropriate ways

  • 08:10

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: when they wield their power.And the idea is that when people think that the police actin desirable ways, this then creates a sense among citizensthat they should correspondingly actin normatively desirable ways.So we would ask questions like to whatextent do you believe that the police act

  • 08:31

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: in ways that accord with your sense of right and wrong?The other dimension of legitimacy is duty to obey.So this is more difficult. We're tryingto get a sense that people are authorizing the policeto dictate appropriate behavior.This is a kind of sense of consent--

  • 08:51

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: truly free consent-- where you're allowing an authorityto state what you should do, and youfeel a duty to obey irrespective of the moralityof that command.So this becomes a difficult thing to measure.We fielded questions like to what extent

  • 09:11

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: is it your moral duty to obey the police, evenif you don't understand the reasons for the command?Now we approached most of our conceptsas latent concepts, which means that wehad multiple indicators for these particular underlyingpsychological constructs.So for normative alignment with the police,

  • 09:33

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: we asked three questions.For a duty to obey, we asked three questions.And then a key part of the analysisis to run some kind of latent variable modeling, some kindof structural equation modeling, and to fit these modelsin each of the different countriesseparately to test some of the key predictionsof procedural justice theory.[What key challenges did you face in your research?]

  • 09:57

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: Measuring duty to obey is very, very difficult.And we had a lot of discussion in the expert review process,where you have meetings in Mannheim, Germany.And you have national coordinatorsfrom each of the participating countries.In this particular instance, there was 28.And people are discussing whether this concept

  • 10:19

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: is adaptable in some sense.Does it make sense in Bulgaria?Does it make sense in Finland-- this ideathat people are authorizing the policeto dictate appropriate behavior?And then we had discussions about phraseology.So if you're trying to tap into this ideathat people feel a moral duty to obey the police,even if they don't understand the reasons for the command

  • 10:42

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: or even if they disagree with the particular moral contentof the command.So we had a lot of discussion about howthese words translate.And I have a very interesting documentwhich looks through how the translators in eachof the different countries, and, specifically,each of the different major languages

  • 11:02

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: of each country, translated key terms like moral duty to obey.So I have very interesting documentationabout how moral duty to obey the police was translatedin Hebrew in Israel and in Arabic in Israel.And this was a particular challenge.I raise this because some of my colleagues

  • 11:25

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: have critiqued this sort of approachto measuring legitimacy and raise the possibilitythat people can say that they feel an obligationto obey the police even if they disagree with the officer,raise the possibility that people can agreewith statements like this and be expressing,

  • 11:45

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: not so much a sense of truly free consent, but rathera sense of coercion, and fearfulness, and powerlessness.So the idea here is that people couldagree with these statements.And it's not that they are, in some sense,accepting the legitimate moral authority of the police.But rather they feel that they shouldobey the police because if they don't, something bad will

  • 12:08

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: happen.Or they feel they don't have the power to,in some sense, disagree with the police.So with European social survey, this was a key concern of ours.We think we've done a good job.But I've been recently involved in a study in Sao Paulo wherethis was a particular concern.

  • 12:31

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: So in Sao Paulo, the police have very different stylesof policing, a very much more aggressive-- particularlyto certain segments of the population.Amongst the population of Sao Paulo,there is a sense that the police are aggressive,that they are very much focused on coercion,

  • 12:53

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: that they are heavily armed.So in a survey that I was involved with some colleaguesat the University of Sao Paulo, weask the question do you agree that you have a dutyto obey the police, even if you believe the police aredoing something wrong?And our particular concern is whether this questionwould be tapping into what you might

  • 13:15

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: call consensual obligation, a sense of truly free consent,that it's your duty as a citizen to obey the police.Because the police are morally appropriate,and that's what you do in a modern society.People could be answering this question with that in mind,but they also could be answering a questionwith a sense of coercive obligation in mind too.

  • 13:38

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: So we asked this question in this survey, whichwas fielded to just less than 2,000 people,a representative sample of adults in Sao Paulo.And then we asked an open-ended question.So we said when you answered this question, whatdid you have in mind?And it was free text.And the results were startling, because we

  • 13:59

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: found that 60% of people who felt a duty to obey the policewent on to talk about how they felt the police were morallyappropriate.They felt they were legitimate.It's their duty to obey.40% went on to say something like,well, if you don't obey them, you never

  • 14:21

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: know what's going to happen.So they were expressing some kindof coercive form of obligation.We also asked the question-- well,we asked the open-ended question after the close-ended question.And we could look at what people had in mind when they said,no, they didn't feel a duty to obey.The results were interesting-- quite a little bit

  • 14:43

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: less startling but still interesting.So 80% of people who said that they didn't feel a dutyto obey the police went on to say somethinglike, well, the police don't have moral authority.So you can see that this is a sense of disobedience thatis very much linked to a lack of legitimacy.The remaining 20% seemed to expressed some kind

  • 15:07

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: of disobedient protest.So they would say things like, well, I'mnot going to obey the police.But I'm going to, in some sense, report them afterwards.Now this was interesting because on the one hand,you have a good proportion of peoplewho seem to be expressing some kind of legitimate sentiment.

  • 15:30

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: They feel a duty to obey.But then given the opportunity to give more informationabout what they're thinking about,they expressed some sense of coercive obligation--so something that runs entirely counter to the ideaof legitimacy.On the other hand, you've got a small minoritypeople who are expressing some sense of illegitimacy.

  • 15:53

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: But it's, in some sense, couched in a active senseof citizenship.We, in predicting some interesting results,asked a series of questions about whether they felt fearfulof the police, whether they're dissatisfiedwith the state of democracy in Sao Paulo,whether they complied with the law,

  • 16:14

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: whether they felt the police were morally appropriate,et cetera.And when we looked at the findingswe found that key predictors of whether people felt coercivelyobliged to obey the police, whether peoplefelt some kind of protest.These were strongly related to a fear of the police, sometimes

  • 16:36

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: a sense that the police lack moral appropriateness,and sometimes a sense of dissatisfaction with democracy.We also found that the predictor of compliance with the lawwas only consensual obligation.So if people felt a sense of coercive obligation,then this was correlated with less obedience with the law.

  • 17:01

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: So this was a kind of eye opening mythological finding.Because if we hadn't asked the open-ended questionand we just looked at the duty to obey answersand then used those to predict compliance, whichis the usual approach in this area of research,then we would have found a very different picture.

  • 17:24

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: It's the ability to distinguish using this open-ended questionwhat the sentiments underlying answers to these questions thatwere key.[What other research on policing and procedural justice have youbeen involved in?]Myself and colleagues have been involvedin a randomized control trial of procedurally fair policing

  • 17:45

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: in Scotland.This involves getting funding from the Scottish Government,but it also involves a major buy-infrom the police in Scotland.So the idea here is that we want to movebeyond observational data.Most of the work in this area has used surveys.

  • 18:08

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: When it hasn't used surveys, it'sused quantitative methodologies.So this produces interesting data.If it's high quality sample surveys,it that allows us to model conditional correlationsin the population.This is all very important, but it does notallow us to say anything about cause and effect.So it's important to go out into the field.

  • 18:30

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: You could do lab experiments on one hand,but given that this is about policing--policing that happens in the day to day--randomized control trials are particularly important.In Australia, a key randomized controlled trialwas carried out in Queensland.This was a study of traffic policing.

  • 18:51

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: So the idea was that you can randomize styles of policing.And in the control group [AUDIO OUT]and breathalized-- business as usual.So however the local police carried out such stops,that's what's happened.The treatment group was where the police officers followed

  • 19:14

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: a particular script-- a script designedalong procedural fairness principles.So myself and colleagues were involved in the replicationof this study in Scotland.And the idea was that business as usualhappens in the control group.In the treatment group, police officers

  • 19:34

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: followed a particular script.Now what was interesting here is that if anything,the treatment group had an effect,but it reduced people's perceptionsof the procedural fairness of the encounter.So what happened was drivers would be driving

  • 19:54

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: around Scotland as usual.They would be stopped and potentially breathalyzed,or given information about drink driving, et cetera.And then they were given a survey.And they would fill in the survey.In fact, there were 6% response rate,so only a small minority of people filled in the survey.

  • 20:15

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: But they were asked questions about the encounter,whether they felt they were treated fairly.They were asked questions about whether theyfeel that the police are trustworthy,whether they feel a duty to obey the police,whether they'll be likely to cooperate and complywith laws in the future.Now what we found is that in the experimental group,actually people's satisfaction with the encounters

  • 20:36

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: was lower than in the control group.People felt like the police were less procedurallyfair in the experimental group.Now this was interesting because afterwards, wedid some focus groups with the police officers.And we asked them what was going on.And it was pretty clear that the police officers whowere involved in the treatment group

  • 20:56

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: actually we're slightly resentful.They were resentful for being told howthey should be doing their job.They were resentful for having to follow the script.And if anything, this decreased the quality of the interactionbecause the police officer felt stifled by the kindof robotic nature of the script and slightly resentful

  • 21:17

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: that a research team was coming in and telling themhow to do their job.I think this is important in partbecause the quality of policing in Scotlandmay be relatively high.So these sort of encounters seem to go relatively smoothly.Many of these encounters were encountersabout drink driving in rural Scotland,

  • 21:39

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: so that might be something that's important herebut also trying to get the buy-in from police officers--vitally important if you're doing a RCTand you're trying to, in the experimental group,improve the procedural fairness of these encounters.It's vitally important to get the policeofficers to understand and internalize the ideas

  • 22:01

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: around procedural justice.So procedural justice is about treating peoplewith respect and dignity, making decisionsin mutual and objective ways.It's about displaying trustworthy motives,so trying to persuade citizens that you'reencountering that you have their best interest at heart.And it's about giving people voice.

  • 22:22

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: All of these things are very human elementsof an interaction, and they should notfeel artificial to the officer or to the citizen.And so was interesting in this studythat actually, if anything, our interventiondecreased the quality of these encounters.I think because encounters felt relatively artificial.

  • 22:44

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: [What is significant about your findings?Are there potential implications for policy making?]So in the debates about how crime control policiesand institutions should be designed,two ideal types typically emerge.One is an instrumental model off crime control.This is the sort of policy that onemight associate with the policing

  • 23:05

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: of major metropolitan areas in the USlike Chicago and New York.So instrumental model of crime controlis about sending messages of deterrence and strength.It's about proactive policing.It's about stop and search, stop and frisk style policies.And it's premised on the assumptionthat human beings are rational choice.

  • 23:28

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: So the reason why we commit crimesis that we do some balance of risks and benefits.And we will commit a crime if we thinkthat committing that crime will yield benefits,and we're not concerned about the risks.And so if this model of human motivationapplies, than the implication is that weneed policing strategies which are strong,

  • 23:51

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: which are aggressive, which emit signalsof deterrence and capture.And this leads to the sorts of policiesthat we might have seen over the last few yearsin the United States.And in particular, it does seem to leadto some kind of over policing of low income African

  • 24:11

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: American communities.It leads to real problems of trust and legitimacy.Another model of crime control is basedon normative considerations.So this is premised on the idea that peoplewill obey the law because of values and morality.

  • 24:32

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: They're less interested in balancing risks and benefitsand more interested in thinking what's the right thing to do.So we know there's a good deal of evidencethat the major thing that drives people's complianceis the morality of the act itself.So we're not going to burglar a house because we thinkburglaring a house is wrong.We might also be concerned about social disapproval.

  • 24:56

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: But when it comes to justice institutions, a further,and what seems to be an important value,is the value of legitimacy.So we may not burglar a house or notsteal something from a shop because we believethe act, itself, is wrong but also because we believethat the justice system, that the law is legitimate, whichleads us to feel that we should obey the law,

  • 25:17

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: we should obey the police because that, in and of itself,is the right thing to do.So this normative approach would privilegefairness and legitimacy when it comes to policing.So police officers-- crime control policies in general--should lean against or go towards tryingto persuade citizens that their approach to policing

  • 25:41

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: is fair and legitimate, that they respect citizens,that they make decisions that are neutral,that are objective, that they don't stop peoplein the street for subjective reasons,for reasons that link to implicit bias, et cetera.And the idea behind procedural justice theoryis that it emphasizes that justice systems should

  • 26:02

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: lean towards these sorts of policies-- lessaggressive and more consensual style policies.This is important particularly in the United Statesat the moment with lots of debatearound African American communities,lots of debate about police use of force,lots of debates about how policing should take place.

  • 26:25

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: And I think procedural justice theoryis getting increasing coverage amongst high level policymakers.There was recently Obama's 21st century task force on policing.On the very first page were phraseslike "procedural justice."Words like "legitimacy," were highly visible.

  • 26:47

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: So it seems like these ideas-- this type of research--is really infiltrating into policy circles.[What are the implications of these findings for policingand training of police?]Part of the way forward-- one way forward--is to ensure that in the sorts of training that you would get

  • 27:08

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: in-- for example, police officers in Chicago--in that sort of training, principlesof procedural justice are essential.So police officers should be encouragedto think about what it is that citizens are looking for whenthey are encountering these police officers, whatis that they're sensitive towards, and more importantly,

  • 27:29

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: perhaps, the centrality of procedural justicein how the police should do their job,and what sorts of outcomes flow from this.So the idea being that police officers willbe more likely to get citizens to comply with their orders,more likely to generate a sense of cooperation from citizens

  • 27:53

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: if they try to go away from aggressive stylesof encounters, and if they treat citizenson the street with respect and dignity,if they make neutral decision making,if they express trustworthy motives,and if they give citizens a sense of voice in those

  • 28:15

    JONATHAN JACKSON [continued]: encounters.[MUSIC PLAYING]


Professor Jonathan Jackson discusses his research into procedural justice, policing, and the duty to obey. He explains procedural justice as when the police treat the people they stop with fairness, neutrality, and respect. His research has examined this concept both in the United States and in other countries.

Looks like you do not have access to this content.

Researching Procedural Justice Using Survey Methods and Randomized Controlled Trials

Professor Jonathan Jackson discusses his research into procedural justice, policing, and the duty to obey. He explains procedural justice as when the police treat the people they stop with fairness, neutrality, and respect. His research has examined this concept both in the United States and in other countries.

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website