Advocates of law and order: Villains or Guardians of Justice

Darrell J. Steffensmeier, Renee Hoffman Steffensmeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Data on citizen reactions to rigged shoplifting incidents were analyzed in a test of the hypothesis that attitudes toward law and order interact with offender attributes to produce disparities in reactions. Although an interaction effect is observed, its form varies from common conception. Citizens strongly favoring law and order responded more punitively to shoplifting but were less affected by the shoplifter's appearance (hippie versus straight) in their responses. Citizens less concerned about the maintenance of law and order were less punitive in their responses, but were influenced more by the shoplifter's appearance. Thus, our findings are the opposite of what generally is expected. It is concluded that advocates of law and order are hardly the villains of justice as commonly assumed. Rather, they may be among her (justice) better guardians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-286
Number of pages14
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1976

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • General Psychology
  • Law


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