System influences on posthomicide beliefs and distress

Martie P. Thompson, Fran H. Norris, R. Barry Ruback

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Criminal justice system experiences in 150 family members of homicide victims were investigated. The study had two goals: (a) to document the experiences of homicide survivors in the criminal justice system, including case outcomes, criminal justice system activities, and satisfaction with system personnel; and (b) to determine if experiences with the police impacted posthomicide beliefs (cognitive assumptions about the world and one's relationship to it) and psychological distress. The sample, which was identified through the Medical Examiner's Office, was drawn from all criminal homicides from 1.5 to 5 years prior to selection. Results showed that family members of homicide victims were very dissatisfied with their experiences in the criminal justice system. Additionally, whereas objective system outcomes (e.g., arrest) did not directly affect posthomicide beliefs and distress, subjective system outcomes (e.g., police satisfaction) directly affected beliefs and indirectly affected distress. There was some support for both equity theory and a cognitive theory of change, the two theories that guided the model specification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)785-809
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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