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Evening the Score: Factors Affecting Criminal Responses to Injustice

Scheuerman, Heather Leigh (2011)
Dissertation (258 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisers: Agnew, Robert S; Hegtvedt, Karen A
Committee Members: Brennan, Patricia ; Griffiths, Elizabeth A ; Johnson, Cathryn
Research Fields: Sociology, General; Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Keywords: Injustice; General Strain Theory; Crime; Deviance; Organizational Justice
Program: Laney Graduate School, Sociology
Permanent url: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/b2wxw

Abstract

Abstract
Evening the Score: Factors Affecting Criminal Responses to Injustice
By Heather L. Scheuerman
Research in criminology suggests that some, but not all stressors or strains increase
criminal or deviant behavior. The literature indicates that criminal or deviant acts are
more likely in response to strains that are perceived to be unjust. It is not clear, however,
how different types of injustice combine to affect these behaviors. To address this
limitation, I examine how certain types and combinations of major forms of injustice
(distributive, procedural, and interactional) may increase the likelihood that individuals
respond to strain with crime. In addition, this project examines how factors such as
gender, personality traits, and peers' endorsement of criminal or deviant behavior
condition whether individuals respond to injustice with crime or deviance. I argue that
injustice will most likely promote crime when multiple forms of injustice coincide and
when unjust events entail the experience of disrespect and improper treatment (i.e.,
interactional injustice). This form of injustice may be perceived as more severe relative to
distributive and procedural injustice because of the intense emotional and behavioral
responses it produces. To test these arguments, undergraduate study participants
responded to three vignettes by indicating how likely they would be to engage in criminal
or deviant behavior in response to the strain represented in each vignette. Results reveal
that multiple forms of injustice are not necessary to produce criminal or deviant
responses to a distributive injustice, one type is sufficient. Also, males are more likely
than females to engage in crime or deviance in response to this form of injustice.

Evening the Score: Factors Affecting Criminal Responses to Injustice
By
Heather L. Scheuerman
B.A., State University of New York College at Geneseo, 2005
M.A., Emory University, 2008
Advisor: Robert Agnew, Ph.D.
Advisor: Karen A. Hegtvedt, Ph.D.
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the
James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies of Emory University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
in Sociology
2011

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION.. 1

II. CRIME AND JUSTICE.. 8

A. General Strain Theory. 8

1. Basic Tenets. 8

a. Relationship between Injustice, Strain, and Crime9

1. Sources of Injustice. 10

2. Expanding GST. 11

b. Strain, Emotions, and Crime12

c. Factors Conditioning the Effects of Strain on Crime15

1. Role of gender15

2. Role of personality. 17

d. Other (Non-Criminal) Responses to Strain19

B. Procedural Justice and Crime20

1. Expanding the Literature on Procedural Justice and Crime. 23

C. Summary. 23

III. JUSTICE AND CRIME.. 26

A. General Justice Model26

1. Types of Justice. 28

a. Distributive Justice. 28

b. Procedural Justice. 30

c. Interactional Justice. 33

B. Organizational Deviance36

1. Emotions and Organizational Deviance37

2. Factors that Condition the Expression of Workplace Deviance. 39

a. Role of Gender39

b. Role of Personality. 40

3. Combinations of Injustice Resulting in Workplace Deviance. 41

C. Bridging Organizational Justice and Crime Literatures43

D. Legitimacy. 45

IV. THEORETICAL ARGUMENT AND HYPOTHESES50

A. Situational Factors. 51

1. Effects of Types of Justice51

2. Effects of Legitimacy. 54

B. Individual Level Factors55

1. Effects of Gender55

2. Effects of Individual Differences57

V. METHODS. 59

A. Overview.. 59

B. Subjects. 62

1. Sample Overview.. 62

2. Recruitment of the Sample63

3. Distribution of the Survey to the Sample64

C. Manipulations: Independent Variables65

1. Injustice. 65

2. Legitimacy. 67

D. Pre-testing. 67

E. Manipulations: The Vignettes69

1. Club Scenario. 70

2. Group Project Scenario. 71

3. Studying Scenario. 73

F. Measures: Dependent Variables74

1. Criminal or Deviant Behaviors74

G. Measures: Conditioning Variables76

1. Personality. 76

2. Control Variables. 78

a. Demographic Variables. 78

b. State Emotions. 79

c. Trait Emotions. 79

H. Analytical Strategy. 80

VI. RESULTS. 85

A. Descriptive Statistics. 86

1. Manipulation Checks. 88

a. Situational Emotions. 88

b. Effectiveness of Scenarios89

B. Manipulation Checks. 99

1. Justice Measures. 99

C. Main Analyses. 103

1. Correlations. 103

2. Club Scenario. 110

3. Group Project Scenario. 140

4. Studying Scenario. 160

VII. CONCLUSION.. 187

VIII. REFERENCES. 211

IX. APPENDIX A.. 224

X. APPENDIX B.. 242


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