This article examines the hypothesis that citizens’ perceptions of injustice are based on normative factors (i.e., perceptions of equity and fairness) rather than instrumental factors (i.e., the outcomes received) by examining citizens’perceptions of injustice after traffic stops by police. The factors that predict citizens’perceptions of injustice are assessed using data collected for the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)–sponsored Police-Public Contact Survey, a national survey of citizens regarding their contacts with police, collected in 1999. Using multinomial logistic regression, the influences of the normative and instrumental perspectives are examined while controlling for citizens’ characteristics and race-interaction terms, along with legal, situational, and other control variables. The findings support Tyler’s proposition that citizens are concerned with issues of fairness in addition to the actual outcomes they receive from criminal-justice officials. The findings also show significant differences in citizens’ perceptions of distributive and procedural injustice by race. The implications for policy and future research are explored.
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