Questions of Chivalry in Police-Citizen Interactions: An Examination of Procedural Justice



Cahill, Emily

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This thesis examines whether a citizen’s gender predicts the amount of procedural justice that he or she is shown by an officer during a police-citizen encounter. Possible gender effects are examined in the context of the chivalry and the selective chivalry hypotheses in order to determine whether females are shown more procedurally just treatment than males and whether a female citizen’s treatment by police is contingent upon her conformity to traditional gender norms. Using multiple linear regression to analyze data collected during systematic social observations of 243 police-citizen interactions, no evidence of a significant gender effect on officers’ procedural justice decision making was revealed. It was found, however, that a citizen’s minority status, involvement in an encounter with a service-related primary problem, and negative attitude toward police at the beginning of an interaction all have a significant negative impact on procedural justice. Consideration of these results and of the predictors’ effects on the individual elements of procedural justice suggests that chivalry theory may not be applicable to procedural justice decision-making; that service-related encounters do not offer as many opportunities for officers to show neutrality as do other encounters; and that minority citizens do not benefit from as neutral of decision-making by the agents of the criminal justice system as do their White, non-Hispanic counterparts.



Procedural justice, Police-citizen encounters, Chivalry, Selective chivalry, Gender, Policing