Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
In this study, the researcher tested two theoretical models of justice in the context of child protection proceedings. Participants read a case file describing a hypothetical child neglect case. The file included the court petition, the caseworker’s court report, a summary of the protective custody hearing, and the judge’s final order. Within the case file, the researcher manipulated four variables: procedural treatment, interpersonal treatment, severity of child neglect, and assigned role (judge or parent). Results of confirmatory factor analyses suggested that a four-factor model of justice judgments best fit the data. Consistent with the organizational justice approach (Colquitt, 2001) the four latent justice factors were: procedural, distributive, interpersonal, and informational. Distributive justice had the strongest relationship to measured justice outcomes, significantly predicting decision satisfaction, leader evaluation, and predicted legal compliance. The results did not support the group engagement model (Tyler & Blader, 2003) in that perceptions of social identity did not mediate the relationships between procedural justice judgments and predicted legal compliance. Both severity of neglect and assigned decision-making role weakly moderated the relationships between justice judgments and outcomes. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for justice theory and child protection practice.