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Perceptions of Justice Among Minority Cultures: Implications for Youth Justice Conferencing

Sivasubramaniam, Diane
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) Paper presented at the “Juvenile Justice: From Lessons of the Past to a Road for the Future” conference held on December 1-2, 2003, in Sydney, Australia. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. Downloaded 3 May 2004.

The importance of considering factors that influence perceptions of fairness in the legal system is borne out by numerous psychological studies that have shown that people’s willingness to comply with the law is linked to perceptions of fairness in legal procedures. Recent research has produced findings on the impact of various individual traits in perceptions of fairness. “Power-distance” is one such trait. “Power-distance” refers to the distance people believe to be appropriate between authorities and subordinates. People rated high on “power-distance” tend to believe that there should be an extensive distance between authorities and their subordinates; on the other hand, people low on “power-distance” tend to believe that there should be little distance between authorities and their subordinates. “Power-distance” tends to be high in cultures that measure high on collectivism; and “power-distance” tends to be low in cultures that measure high on individualism. Research has shown that people low on “power-distance” tend to place greater weight on procedural justice concerns than they do on distributive justice concerns; and people high on “power-distance” have opposite perceptions. Another factor that affects perceptions of fairness is trust that those who are managing the process are unbiased in their operation of the justice procedures. The current research examined the degree to which the “power-distance” trait of people may be linked to perceptions of bias in legal procedures. This report presents preliminary analyses of data on the first 24 participants who were screened to identify high and low “power-distance.” This was followed by testing to determine perceptions of bias in the conduct of a trial based on subjects’ reading of a trial transcript. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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