Procedural justice and motivational posturing: Understanding prisoners’ cooperation and compliance behaviours

Miss Julie Barkworth1, Professor Kristina Murphy1, Associate Professor John  Rynne1
1Griffith Criminology Institute, Brisbane, Australia

Staff-prisoner relationships are consistently shown to be important for maintaining order in prisons. Order not only relies on what staff do, but on prisoners following the directives of staff and complying with prison rules and procedures. A growing body of literature demonstrates procedural justice to be effective for increasing prisoner cooperation with officer directives and compliance with prison rules; however, little has been done to examine for whom, and under what conditions, procedural justice may be most effective. Research in other regulatory contexts (e.g., taxation, policing) has begun to examine the role of motivational postures in the relationship between procedural justice and cooperation and compliance behaviours. The current study aims to use Braithwaite’s (2003) motivational posturing framework to understand this relationship in an Australian prison context. Utilising survey data from 170 prisoners housed in four maximum security prisons in Queensland, Australia, it will be shown how prisoners’ motivational posturing styles influence the effect of procedural justice on prisoners’ decisions of cooperation and compliance. The project will have important implications for developing evidence-based best-practices for prison staff to more effectively engage with prisoners, as well as contributing to theory development in the procedural justice literature.


Julie completed her PhD early this year at Griffith University. Her thesis examined the role of procedural justice and motivational posturing for understanding prisoners’ psychological and behavioural outcomes.


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