Justice and Conflicts: Theoretical and Empirical Contributions

  • 65 297 5
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up

Justice and Conflicts: Theoretical and Empirical Contributions

Justice and Conflicts . Elisabeth Kals l Ju¨rgen Maes Editors Justice and Conflicts Theoretical and Empirical Co

4,075 42 3MB

Pages 473 Page size 615 x 927 pts

Report DMCA / Copyright


Recommend Papers

File loading please wait...
Citation preview

Justice and Conflicts


Elisabeth Kals


Ju¨rgen Maes


Justice and Conflicts Theoretical and Empirical Contributions

Editors Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Kals Katholische Universita¨t Eichsta¨tt-Ingolstadt Professur Psychologie III Ostenstraße 25 85072 Ingolstadt Germany [email protected]

Prof. Dr. Ju¨rgen Maes Universita¨t der Bundeswehr Mu¨nchen Fakulta¨t fu¨r Pa¨dagogik Werner-Heisenberg-Weg 39 85577 Neubiberg Germany [email protected]

ISBN 978-3-642-19034-6 e-ISBN 978-3-642-19035-3 DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3 Springer Heidelberg Dordrecht London New York Library of Congress Control Number: 2011940317 # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilm or in any other way, and storage in data banks. Duplication of this publication or parts thereof is permitted only under the provisions of the German Copyright Law of September 9, 1965, in its current version, and permission for use must always be obtained from Springer. Violations are liable to prosecution under the German Copyright Law. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. Printed on acid-free paper Springer is part of Springer Science+Business Media (www.springer.com)


Justice can be conceived as a norm, a value, a virtue, a standard of evaluation of almost any aspect of life and living together, and as a human motive affecting thoughts, emotions, and actions. There is hardly any subject that cannot be regarded in respect of justice. Not astonishingly, there are many scientific disciplines that are concerned with questions of justice, such as philosophy, jurisprudence, psychology, sociology, theology, and many others. Prevalently, they approach their questions with quite diverse perspectives. They analyze justice theoretically or normatively (e.g. by analyzing and determining criteria of just solutions) or empirically (e.g. by assessing and analyzing preconditions and consequences of justice-related cognitions and emotions). Diverging views on justice in groups and individuals represent a core element of social conflicts. The current book focuses upon theoretical and empirical research on justice and discusses various social conflicts in the light of their practical implications. The book traces back to the Eichsta¨tt symposium “The potential of justice research for conflict resolution and the understanding of societal problems”, which aimed at bringing together different methodological and disciplinary views of justice research. Nevertheless, the emphasis of the symposium was on empirical perspectives and their application. Distinguished scholars from various disciplines, from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the United States, came together to discuss mainly the following questions: 1. What is the impact of justice judgments on individual perceptions and constructions of conflict situations, and to what extent does justice determine human action as an independent motive? 2. How can the origin and the development of social conflicts be understood from the perspective of experienced justice or injustice? 3. How can social conflicts be alleviated or solved on the basis of perceived justice? This book completes and enriches the Eichsta¨tt talks. Therefore, two features are specific for it: First, it is an interdisciplinary book, integrating the research




traditions of many disciplines that are involved with justice issues. Although the psychological contributions build the majority, many other disciplines are represented, like philosophy, economics, educational sciences, sociology, theology, and journalism. Second, all contributions aim at a final practical perspective to make the research fruitful for the concrete resolution of problems within society. This is also the case for the more theoretical chapters of the current book. Altogether, the edition embraces seven parts: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Introduction Justice motive(s) Interpersonal justice Organizational justice Ecological justice Social conflicts on a macro-level Protective factors to strengthen and foster sustainable justice

Introduction Three chapters introduce into the subject of the book. Leo Montada reflects justice as a normative construct and specifies the impact of empirical justice research in eight theses that have implications for the contents of all following chapters and that cover the internal logic of the book: The first thesis refers to the justice motive as an anthropological universal, the last thesis touches upon the practical implication of justice as a peace-building construct. Kjell To¨rnblom and Ali Kazemi offer a new framework for the conceptualization of justice conflicts. They differentiate different types of conceptual distributive and social distributive justice conflicts and a mixture of both. Their chapter has an almost monographic character and offers a frame for the following chapters, dealing with justice conflicts. Susan Opotow introduces the reader to the concept of moral exclusion that describes the narrowing of the scope of justice. This concept is illustrated by a historical retrospect to the Third Reich, where Jews and other groups were devaluated as “life unworthy of life”, thus being excluded from the scope of justice. The Jewish Museum Berlin is used as the context for this justice research.

Justice Motive(s) In the chapters of the second part, justice motives are described and analyzed. How are justice motives developed, and what role do they play to explain human decision-making and behavior? Is justice a distinguishable motive or can it be unmasked as egoistic interests that are, for example, only hidden by rhetoric justice



arguments? What justice motives can be differentiated, and what role do they play in organizational and transactional decision-making? Claudia Dalbert distinguishes between an implicit and a self-attributed justice motive that are part of the Dissociation Model of the Justice Motive. The implicit justice motive is based upon an intuitive level and gets salient by justice-relevant cues. The self-attributed justice motive, however, is part of the more conscious selfconcept and is triggered by social cues. Empirical research on the model underpins the differentiation of both justice motives. Ju¨rgen Maes, Christian Tarnai, and Julia Schuster look back on the history of just-world research and distinguish two phases which either highlighted rather negatively valuated effects of Belief in a Just World (BJW; namely derogating and excluding victims) or rather positively valuated functions of BJW for the believer’s daily functioning. Since both aspects may conflict, they plead for analyzing the complex interplay and considering the effects of BJW for self and others simultaneously. Nadine Thomas, Anna Baumert, and Manfred Schmitt analyze justice sensitivity as a risk and protective factor in social conflicts. They depict the construct of justice sensitivity as a stable disposition to perceive and react to injustice. The construct is differentiated into victim, observer, beneficiary, and perpetrator sensitivity; each of them has distinguishable functions, correlates, and even action tendencies. Jan-Willem van Prooijen offers another perspective on justice motives by analyzing suspiciousness of injustice in the context of conspiracy theories. He shows that conspiracy beliefs are functional in various perspectives when people are confronted with events that threaten the social order. The application of procedural justice principles can help to reduce conspiracy beliefs. Part three to six of the book deal with justice from a micro- to a macro-level in various social contexts: interpersonal justice, organizational justice, ecological justice, and finally social conflicts on a macro-level.

Interpersonal Justice The level of interpersonal justice is entered by Hans-Werner Bierhoff and Elke Rohmann. They analyze justice in performance situations and present the Expectation States Theory as a frame from which the reward expectation hypothesis derives. Based upon this theory, an estimation of the relative impact of equity and equality for a given reward allocation is formulated. The hypothesis is validated by empirical data obtained in a scenario study and offers new understandings of the perceived justice in performance situations. Gerold Mikula deals with perceived justice in the division of family labor between women and men. He analyzes the various connections between the division of family labor and its perceived justice, workloads, the relationship satisfaction, and well-being. It is shown that the division of family labor is mediated, to



a large degree, by its perceived justice. Variables and processes that contribute to this justice perception can be derived, like the frequency and the outcome of comparing the amount of family labor performed by each spouse. Mario Gollwitzer, Livia Keller, and Judith Braun discuss laypersons’ punitive attitudes and their preferences for different sanctions that have strong justice implications. The authors show that the punitive attitudes and preferences are shaped by variables of the concrete social context, like the offender’s social category, the group-level status, or the normative implication of the offence. Examples for the effectiveness of the social context variables are given. Bernhard Streicher, Dieter Frey, and Silvia Osswald also deal with the general process of forming fairness judgments. They analyze when and how people search for information to judge the fairness of authorities, e.g. after fair and unfair events. Accuracy and defense motives are central to account for significant differences and at the same time influence conflict resolutions.

Organizational Justice Two chapters deal with justice in organizations from varying perspectives. Adrian F. Furnham and Evelyn M. Siegel open up the topic by focusing upon perceived injustice in organizations. The perception of injustices might lead to dissatisfaction and even to Counter Work Behaviors (CWB). Contrary, model behavior of supervisors and perceived fair treatment promote Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCB). The motives of both behavioral categories, of CWBs and OCBs, are analyzed, leading to practical implications for the prevention of CWBs. Elisabeth Kals and Patrick Jiranek offer insights into the mega-construct of “Organizational Justice”. On a theoretical level, organizational justice provides prescriptive norms based upon justice as a fundamental and independent human motive. On an empirical level, organizational justice judgments are powerful predictors of various work-related outcomes, leading to the view of justice as a maxim for aligning behavioral decisions in organizations.

Ecological Justice Four chapters contribute to the ecological justice perspective. Markus M. Mu¨ller presents a justice framework for the solution of environmental conflicts. Environmental conflicts are reconstructed as justice conflicts, from which strategies to resolve the conflicts can be derived. It is assumed that behavior in ecological conflicts is driven by feelings of (in)justice that differ in dependence of individual scopes of justice and other variables, such as cognitive values or emotional valuations.



Janine Bentz-Ho¨lzl and Manfred Brocker enter the political level of human-induced climate change and its various injustices: Industrialized countries are the primary causes of climate change, but the costs have also to be borne by developing countries. It is concluded that the distribution of trading with carbon certificates must be readjusted and that measures are necessary for an international distribution of costs. Further restructuring of intergovernmental relations and the international system seem, therefore, to be indispensable. Heidi Ittner and Cornelia Ohl focus this international level of climate change by integrating justice psychology and economics. Their conceptual paper focuses upon game theory that interprets the interaction of nations as a public goods game. Whereas game theory focuses on structural conditions, justice psychology emphasizes the justice motives that foster cooperative behavior within international negotiations. With this interdisciplinary approach insights for the support of international environmental cooperation are gained. Geoffrey J. Syme also refers to climate change and potential social conflicts, due to the demand for natural resources, like access to water. He shows that the application of environmental ethics and considerations of the social justice can assist in resolving potential conflict. The impact of lay ethics, including equity, distributive, procedural, and interactive justice, is represented and discussed using water resources management and climate change as important examples.

Social Conflicts on a Macro-Level The following chapters refer to various social conflicts on a macro-level. Nils Goldschmidt and Alexander Lenger present a cultural theory of economics and discuss the theory in the light of its impact for linking justice and the principles of market economy. The described fundamental tensions between justice and economic efficiency systems are traced back to cultural conditions. Consequently, the cultural perspective might help to overcome the tensions and to replace the existing concept of a homogeneous homo oeconomicus by a heterogeneous homo culturalis. John T. Jost, Ido Liviatan, Jojanneke van der Toorn, Alison Ledgerwood, Anesu Mandisodza, and Brian A. Nosek also touch upon the system level. They present the system justification theory and review research for its evidence. According to the theory, people aim to defend their current social systems, which might also include ideological defensiveness, as the justification serves, for example, their social and psychological needs. The theory and its specific findings can help to explain why people resist to social change or support it. These explanations are also applied to social conflict situations. A broad view on societal systems is also taken by Klaus-Dieter Altmeppen, Klaus Arnold, and Tanja Ko¨ssler by analyzing the principles of fairness in professional journalism that are discussed within the concepts of “media ethics”, “objectivity”, or “professionalism”. Fairness touches upon different levels and entities, like the sources of information, the audience, or the actors. Consequently, in some



situations fair journalism implies that specific unfairnesses are taken into account, for example, when corruption is disclosed. Ronald Fischer proposes a new model of political inter-group violence and conflict escalation which encompasses five components: Against the background of a difficult life situation, individual perceptions of social injustice tied to social identities are used to frame conflicts, develop and justify focused political agendas and actions. Additionally, the role of catalyzing and intervening factors in the emergence and maintenance of violent political conflict is considered, in particular the interplay between leadership and national audiences and international sponsors.

Protective Factors to Strengthen and Foster Sustainable Justice The book closes with views on protective factors for sustainable justice. Forgiveness, moral courage, effective conflict resolution, and the acceptance of human rights are the key constructs of these chapters. Mathias Allemand and Marianne Steiner refer to concepts of forgiveness in close interpersonal relationships and transfer them to a lifespan development perspective. Based upon a thorough overview, situation-specific forgiveness is conceptualized as a process of change, which explicitly includes a process of change across lifespan. The process is influenced by dispositional forgiveness that is understood as a trait. Based on the results, clinical and non-clinical forgiveness interventions are reviewed and further supplemented. Tanja Gerlach, Dmitrij Agroskin, and Jaap J.A. Denissen analyze the processes of forgiveness in close interpersonal relationships: How do individuals in close relations manage to overcome feelings of hurt and judgments of injustices? Forgiveness is interpreted as a process of negotiated morality where the partner’s behavior indicates a return to relationship rules. From these analyses, intervention strategies for achieving forgiveness processes can be derived. Silvia Osswald, Dieter Frey, and Bernhard Streicher refer to moral courage as another key construct of justice. Moral courage aims to enforce norms without considering one’s own burdens and social costs. It is accompanied by anger and indignation and can be distinguished from related constructs, such as helping behavior, heroism, or social control. An integrative model of promoting and inhibiting moral courage is presented, which offers intervention approaches to promote moral courage. Finally, Carolyn Hafer’s chapter deals with the psychology of deservingness and acceptance of human rights as one of the broadest perspectives taken within justice discourse. In line with the Belief in a Just World, people have a strong motive to believe that they get what is deserved and that deservingness principles generally work. However, these beliefs endanger the acceptance of universal human rights. But deservingness can also help to reduce resistance towards universal human rights, corresponding practical implications are unfolded.



All chapters are structured in a similar way in order to enhance the readability of the book: They are introduced by a short abstract, followed by an introduction into the specific research topics of the chapters. They close with an outlook on practical perspectives or concrete implications of the findings and thoughts discussed. The edition of volumes like this is always the result of the cooperation of many people. Therefore, we want to express our gratitude to at least some of these people: The authors sacrificed time and effort to make this volume possible at all. Jonas Bodensohn, our native speaker, took care of the language over a longer period of time. Julian Su¨ß tirelessly proof-read and edited the work together with Mathias Schieweck, Anja Brunner, and Carolin Straub. Evelyn Siegel always helped us, whenever it was necessary. The publisher Springer supported us in many ways and gave us the opportunity to get the innovative work published. Finally we want to thank Leo Montada, one of the founders of empirical justice research. Without his mentoring and the socialization through the tradition in Trier, neither the justice symposium nor this edition would have been possible. Thank you! Ingolstadt/Munich

Elisabeth Kals and Ju¨rgen Maes



Introduction The Normative Impact of Empirical Justice Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Leo Montada Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Kjell To¨rnblom and Ali Kazemi Absence and Presence: Interpreting Moral Exclusion in the Jewish Museum Berlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Susan Opotow Justice Motives On the Differentiation of an Implicit and a Self-Attributed Justice Motive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Claudia Dalbert About Is and Ought in Research on Belief in a Just World: The Janus-Faced Just-World Motivation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 Ju¨rgen Maes, Christian Tarnai, and Julia Schuster Justice Sensitivity as a Risk and Protective Factor in Social Conflicts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 Nadine Thomas, Anna Baumert, and Manfred Schmitt




Suspicions of Injustice: The Sense-Making Function of Belief in Conspiracy Theories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 Jan-Willem van Prooijen Interpersonal Justice Justice in Performance Situations: Compromise Between Equity and Equality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 Hans-Werner Bierhoff and Elke Rohmann Perceived Justice in the Division of Family Labor: Antecedents and Consequences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153 Gerold Mikula Retributive Punishment in a Social Context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169 Mario Gollwitzer, Livia Keller, and Judith Braun Forming Fairness Judgments: Why People Favor Unfair Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185 Bernhard Streicher, Dieter Frey, and Silvia Osswald Organizational Justice Reactions to Organizational Injustice: Counter Work Behaviors and the Insider Threat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199 Adrian Furnham and Evelyn M. Siegel Organizational Justice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219 Elisabeth Kals and Patrick Jiranek Ecological Justice Justice as a Framework for the Solution of Environmental Conflicts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239 Markus M. Mu¨ller Climate Change and Global Justice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251 Janine Bentz-Ho¨lzl and Manfred Brocker International Negotiations on Climate Change: Integrating Justice Psychology and Economics – a Way out of the Normative Blind Alley? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269 Heidi Ittner and Cornelia Ohl



Justice and Environmental Decision Making . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 283 Geoffrey J. Syme Social Conflicts on a Macro-Level Justice by Agreement: Constitutional Economics and its Cultural Challenge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 299 Nils Goldschmidt and Alexander Lenger System Justification: A Motivational Process with Implications for Social Conflict . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 315 John T. Jost, Ido Liviatan, Jojanneke van der Toorn, Alison Ledgerwood, Anesu Mandisodza, and Brian A. Nosek Are the Media Capable of Fair Reporting? Remarks on the Principle of Fairness in Professional Journalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 329 Klaus-Dieter Altmeppen, Klaus Arnold, and Tanja Ko¨ssler Social Identity and Justice in Violent Conflicts – A Dynamic Model of Intergroup Conflict . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 345 Ronald Fischer Protective Factors to Strenghten and Foster Sustainable Justice Situation-Specific Forgiveness and Dispositional Forgiveness: A Lifespan Development Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 361 Mathias Allemand and Marianne Steiner Forgiveness in Close Interpersonal Relationships: A Negotiation Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 377 Tanja M. Gerlach, Dmitrij Agroskin, and Jaap J. A. Denissen Moral Courage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 391 Silvia Osswald, Dieter Frey, and Bernhard Streicher The Psychology of Deservingness and Acceptance of Human Rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 407 Carolyn L. Hafer Author Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 429 Subject Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 447


List of Contributors

Agroskin, Dmitrij, Department of Social Psychology, University of Salzburg, Hellbrunnerstraße 34, 5020 Salzburg, Austria Allemand, Mathias, Department of Psychology, University of Zu¨rich, Binzmu¨hlestrasse 14/24, 8050 Zu¨rich, Switzerland Altmeppen, Klaus-Dieter, Department of Journalism, Catholic University Eichsta¨tt-Ingolstadt, Ostenstraße 26, 85072 Eichsta¨tt, Germany Arnold, Klaus, Department of Communication, University of Trier, Universita¨tsring 15, 54296 Trier, Germany Baumert, Anna, Department of Psychology, University of Koblenz-Landau, Fortstraße 7, 76829 Landau, Germany Bentz-Ho¨lzl, Janine, Department of Political Science, Catholic University Eichsta¨tt-Ingolstadt, Universita¨tsallee 1, 85072 Eichsta¨tt, Germany Bierhoff, Hans-Werner, Department of Social Psychology, Ruhr-University Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Germany Braun, Judith, Department of Psychology, Philipps-University Marburg, Gutenbergstraße 18, 35032 Marburg, Germany Brocker, Manfred, Department of Political Science, Catholic University Eichsta¨ttIngolstadt, Universita¨tsallee 1, 85072 Eichsta¨tt, Germany Dalbert, Claudia, Department of Educational Psychology, Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Franckeplatz 1, Haus 5, 06099 Halle (Saale), Germany



List of Contributors

Denissen, Jaap, Department of Personality Psychology, Humboldt-University of Berlin, Rudower Chaussee 18, 12489 Berlin, Germany Fischer, Ronald, School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington, Kelburn Parade, PO Box 600, Wellington 6012, New Zealand Frey, Dieter, Department of Social Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Leopoldstr. 13, 80802 Mu¨nchen, Germany Furnham, Adrian F., Department of Educational Psychology, University College London, Room BW 432, 26 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0A, United Kingdom Gerlach, Tanja, Department of Personality Psychology, Humboldt-University of Berlin, Rudower Chaussee 18, 12489 Berlin, Germany Goldschmidt, Nils, Department of Social Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Munich, Am Stadtpark 20, 81243 Mu¨nchen, Germany Gollwitzer, Mario, Department of Psychology, Philipps-University Marburg, Gutenbergstraße 18, 35032 Marburg, Germany Hafer, Carolyn, Department of Psychology, Brock University, 500 Glenridge Ave., St. Catharines, Ont., L2S 3A1, Canada Ittner, Heidi, Department of Social and Personality Psychology, Otto-von-GuerickeUniversity of Magdeburg, P. O. Box 4120, D-39016 Magdeburg, Germany Jiranek, Patrick, Department of Organizational Psychology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Kreuzplatz 5, 8032 Zu¨rich, Switzerland Jost, John T., Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003, USA Kals, Elisabeth, Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Catholic University Eichsta¨tt-Ingolstadt, Ostenstraße 26, 85072 Eichsta¨tt, Germany Kazemi, Ali, Center for Social Justice Research, School of Technology and Society, Social Psychology Section, University of Sko¨vde, 541 42 Sko¨vde, Sweden Keller, Livia, Department of Psychology, Philipps-University Marburg, Gutenbergstraße 18, 35032 Marburg, Germany Ko¨ssler, Tanja, Department of Journalism, Catholic University Eichsta¨ttIngolstadt, Ostenstraße 26, 85072 Eichsta¨tt, Germany

List of Contributors


Ledgerwood, Alison, Department of Psychology, University of California at Davis, 134 Young Hall, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA Lenger, Alexander, Global Studies Programme, Institute for Sociology, AlbertLudwigs-University of Freiburg, Rempartstr. 15, 79085 Freiburg, Germany Liviatan, Ido, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, 2-S-7 Green Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544–1013, USA Maes, Ju¨rgen, Department of Education, Bundeswehr University Munich, WernerHeisenberg-Weg 39, 85577 Neubiberg, Germany Mandisodza, Anesu, Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003, USA Mikula, Gerold, Department of Psychology, University of Graz, Universita¨tsplatz 2, 8010 Graz, Austria Montada, Leo, Department of Psychology, University of Trier, 54286 Trier, Germany Mu¨ller, Markus M., Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Catholic University Eichsta¨tt-Ingolstadt, Ostenstraße 26, 85072 Eichsta¨tt, Germany Nosek, Brian A., Social and Cognitive Programs, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, 102 Gilmer Hall, Box 400400, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA Ohl, Cornelia, Department of Economics, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Permoserstr. 15, D-04318 Leipzig, Germany Opotow, Susan, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center, City University of New York, 899 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY 10019, USA Osswald, Silvia, Central Psychological Service of the Bavarian Police, Trautenwolfstraße 4, 80802 Mu¨nchen, Germany Rohmann, Elke, Department of Social Psychology, Ruhr-University Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Germany Schmitt, Manfred, Department of Psychology, University of Koblenz-Landau, Fortstraße 7, 76829 Landau, Germany


List of Contributors

Schuster, Julia, Department of Education, Bundeswehr University Munich, Werner-Heisenberg-Weg 39, 85577 Neubiberg, Germany Siegel, Evelyn M., Catholic University Eichsta¨tt-Ingolstadt, 85071 Eichsta¨tt, Germany Steiner, Marianne, Department of Psychology, University of Zu¨rich, Binzmu¨hlestraße 14/24, 8050 Zu¨rich, Switzerland Streicher, Bernhard, Department of Social Psychology, Ludwig-MaximiliansUniversity Munich, Leopoldstr. 13, 80802 Mu¨nchen, Germany Syme, Geoffrey J., Centre of Planning, Edith Cowan University 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup Western Australia 6027, Australia Tarnai, Christian, Department of Education, Bundeswehr University Munich, Werner-Heisenberg-Weg 39, 85577 Neubiberg, Germany Thomas, Nadine, Department of Psychology, University of Koblenz-Landau, Fortstraße 7, 76829 Landau, Germany To¨rnblom, Kjell, Center for Social Justice Research, School of Technology and Society, Social Psychology Section, University of Sko¨vde, 541 42 Sko¨vde, Sweden Van der Toorn, Jojanneke, Department of Social Psychology, Yale University, 2 Hillhouse Avenue, p.o. Box 208205, New Haven, CT 06520, USA Van Prooijen, Jan-Willem, Faculty of Psychology and Education, VU University Amsterdam, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, Netherlands



The Normative Impact of Empirical Justice Research Leo Montada

Abstract Justice is a normative construct. Widely shared is the opinion that normative truths cannot be proven or clarified empirically. While it is questionable whether truths about justice can be ascertained at all, the impact of empirical justice research is crucial. The argument is specified in 8 theses. 1. The justice motive is an anthropological universal. Humans care about justice. 2. The justice motive is primordial, it is not to reduce to other motives, especially not to self interest. 3. The justice motive as such is not a virtue, it may also instigate manifold new injustices. 4. While the justice motive is universal, the views of what is just and what is unjust are highly diverging. 5. We have no access to an objective truth about justice, we can ascertain only subjective views. 6. Diverging views about justice may cause social conflicts. Basically, all social conflicts are justice conflicts. 7. Disputes about the true justice are less productive than efforts to make peace by reconciling justice conflicts. Various strategies for the settlement of conflicts are to be considered. 8. Only a just peace is a sustainable peace. The conflicting parties have to settle their conflicts by an agreement. If the parties consent to an agreement equally free and equally informed, they will consider the agreement to be just. This does not mean objective, but inter-subjective justice.

Introduction It is neither the aim nor the claim of empirical researchers to determine what is truly just and what is truly unjust. The questions guiding psychological research are others: • What do people consider to be just or unjust? • How divergent or convergent are their convictions about justice?

L. Montada (*) Department of Psychology, University of Trier, Trier, Germany e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_1, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



L. Montada

• Which dispositions and which contextual factors have influence on the perceptions and appraisal of justice and injustice? • What is the motivational impact of experienced or observed injustice? • How do people cope with injustices they experience or observe? • How are justice beliefs shaped and how can they be changed? Empirical facts to those questions have, however, normative implications. These implications shall be emphasized and discussed in a sequence of eight theses.

Thesis 1: The Concern for Justice Is an Essential Feature of the Homo Sapiens, It Is What Is Called an Anthropological Universal Claims for justice and protests against injustice are ubiquitous in social life: • Political movements, revolutions, and wars are initiated under the banner of justice. • Justice is a prominent issue in all fields of politics. • The courts are swamped with law suits, and many of their sentences arouse protest or bitterness by those who consider them as unjust. • Perceived injustices are at the core of conflicts in private life. • Victims of misfortune have to cope with the perceived injustice of their fate. To capture the omnipresence of the justice motive, we merely need to bring to mind how many acts, facts and conditions we appraise with regard to justice (Montada, 2003): • Distributions, e.g. of gains and losses, of wealth and opportunities, of rights and duties, of burdens and risks. • Role relations and all other interactions where goods and services, love and loyalty, recognition, or, else, devaluations, hostilities and retributions are exchanged. • Evaluations of achievements of all kinds, also evaluations of actions – heroic as well as criminal ones. • Normative standards in social systems, e.g. maxims in constitutions, single laws, institutions, the norms of religions, social role standards and cultural rules for social interactions and relationships. • The procedures in elections and in decision making, wherever they may take place, in states or in clubs, in parliaments or universities, in courts or families, and whatever the decision may be about. • Even personal fates, which are deemed deserved or undeserved, depending on the attributions of responsibility. Appraisals of justice emotionalize and they have motivational impetus. Humans are averse to injustice. They have a justice motive (Ross & Miller, 2002). This is an essential contribution of justice research to anthropology.

The Normative Impact of Empirical Justice Research


Thesis 2: The Justice Motive Is a “Primordial” Motive; It Cannot Be Reduced to Other Motives, Especially Not to Self-Interest, as Postulated in the Economic Theory of Behavior The behavior theory of economics shall make us believe that people only care about justice if it is to their own advantage – according to the credo that maximization of personal profit is the cardinal motive of man (Ramb & Tietzel, 1993). This idea of man as homo oeconomicus legitimizes selfish actions by “naturalization,” by assuming that it is the nature of man. This conception of man is deceptive and it is falsified (Green & Shapiro, 1994; Kals, 1999; Kals, Maes, & Becker, 2001; Maes, 2004). Based on the economic theory of behavior, hypotheses are offered which kind of self-interest may be the true motive for actions seemingly motivated by concern for justice. For a long time, an empirical examination of such hypotheses has not even been attempted in economics, which is typical for dogmatic belief systems (Montada, 1998). Ironically, this dogma has infected justice psychology, too (Thibaut & Walker, 1975; Walster, Walster, & Berscheid, 1978). No doubt, the “flag of justice” often serves to mask self-interest. Politicians may in reality care about their popularity, employers about the productivity of their employees, which declines when they feel treated unjustly. However, a merely strategical concern for “justice” proves that the actors believe that justice is an important concern of others, which they try to abuse in a “parasitic” way for their selfish goals (Elster, 1989). Whether a person cares about justice categorically or for strategic reasons can be found out empirically by assessing actors’ motives. In psychological research the existence of primordial, irreducible justice motives has frequently been verified, intuitively convincing, for instance, in cases of injustices suffered by other people, when indicators of the justice motive are assessed and no confounded selfish motives are uncovered. Resentment is not only evidenced in case of self-experienced injustices, but also in cases of injustice suffered by other people. Existential guilt feelings were observed with people living in relatively fortunate conditions when they become aware of the bad fate, the harm and hardships suffered by foreign people. Both resentment and existential guilt stimulate prosocial commitments aiming at reducing these injustices (Montada, Schneider, & Reichle, 1988). Surely, the justice motive can be confounded with self-interest, but often, it comes into conflict with self-interest. Using experimental games (as the “Ultimatum Game,” “Public Goods” or “Resource Dilemma” games), critical economists, social and behavioral scientists have revealed a plethora of phenomena which do not fit into the “Rational Choice Model” of economic theory, phenomena which can only be understood by assuming justice motives (Fehr & Schwarz, 2003; Gerhard 2007). For instance, people surrender personal advantages and take considerable costs only to retaliate unjust actions of others (Fehr & G€achter, 2002).


L. Montada

Summing up, the justice motive cannot be reduced to self-interest, it is a primordial motive: people care about justice – for themselves and also for others, some more, some less, according to various individual dispositions (Dalbert & Umlauft, 2009; Schmitt, Gollwitzer, Maes, & Arbach, 2005).

Thesis 3: The Justice Motive Is Not a Virtue, Unless It Is Cultivated By far, not every action powered by justice motives is commendable. Under the flag of “justice,” dire wrong was and is done. Actors on all social levels “justify” their violence, their crimes, their selfishness. A large ratio of aggressions aim at restoring justice – surely, not all are appropriate (Montada, 2007b). Blaming innocent victims was observed in many experiments and studies (Lerner, 1980; Montada & Lerner, 1998). This injustice is done by subjects who try to preserve their Belief in a Just World, which is or would be threatened by the fact that innocent people are victimized. Belief in a just world can be assumed to be a resource (Dalbert, 2001). The defense of this resource is possible by blaming the victims for being responsible for their victimization (Maes & Montada, 1989; Reichle, Schneider, & Montada, 1998). Moreover, many attempts to prevent or to correct injustices result in new injustices. Typically, laws and policies are established to remove existing injustices. Quite often, however, they create new injustices. Some examples may illustrate this statement: • Justice for the defendants may mean injustice for the victims of crimes. When the “benefit of doubt” is granted to the defendant (which doubtlessly is a significant progress in the history of criminal law), the victim’s claim for punishment and compensation may be violated, assuming that the victim has no doubt that the defendant is guilty (Orth, 2000). • Legal punishment for crimes may be deserved, but it also bears the risk of unjust social discrimination of those close to the perpetrator, for instance his or her children, who are not responsible for the punished deed at all. • Are the typical affirmative action policies a just compensation for the unquestionable historical disadvantages of women in the labor market? There are good reasons for efforts to improve the ratio of women in the labor market, but is it just to compensate historical disadvantages by policies which privilege young women who have personally not been disadvantaged so far in competition with young men who have personally not been privileged? • Is raising taxes for caused pollution a just measure? Pollution causes risks and costs for others who do not profit from these polluting activities, e.g. industrial production, air-conditioning, car-driving. Raising taxes for pollution reduces the unjust externalization of costs, but may also cause new injustices, for instance because rich people are able to pay these taxes without the slightest reduction of

The Normative Impact of Empirical Justice Research


their polluting activities, whereas poorer people may have to give up or restrict these significantly (cf. Montada & Kals, 2000). The justice motive needs culture. It requires actors’ readiness and the capacity to deal with the complexities of the social world and their awareness of the difficulties to anticipate effects and side-effects of every action or measure (enacting rules, laws, policies) which is aimed at establishing or restoring justice. Looking at the branched systemic effects of every intervention, it is not easy to avoid new injustices (cf. Ittner & Montada, 2009). Efforts to establish justice have to be diligently checked for the risks of new injustices. Hence, experience, expertise, and intelligence are needed. Moreover, wisdom is required in appraising the validity of justice beliefs and claims (cf. Montada, 2008, 2010b). The reasons for this plea shall become obvious by the next thesis.

Thesis 4: While the Justice Motive Is Universal, the Views about What Is Just and What Is Unjust Are Not at all Universally Shared Whatever the object of appraisal may be – distributions, social exchanges, evaluations of deeds and misdeeds, achievements and failures, policies, laws and other normative standards, personal fates, procedures in elections and in decision making – when we ask heterogeneous samples, we get divergent opinions about what is unjust and what would be just. This is especially true when specific cases are appraised, but we observe large divergencies also with respect to general maxims of justice, e.g. the various principles of just distribution. The opinions vary between cultures, contexts and individuals. Is only one of these true and all others are wrong? Do the normative disciplines have more uniform answers, more consensus regarding the question “What is just and what is unjust?” This question is controversially disputed in philosophy (e.g., Barry, 1989; Schmidt, 2000; Walzer, 1983), in the philosophy of law (Zippelius, 1994), and in political philosophy (Gosepath, 2004). Certainly, equality is widely accepted as the basic principle of justice (Koller, 1995). But what precisely is meant with equality? Is everyone to be treated equally or are only equals to be treated equally? The debates about justice start with the question which inequalities are relevant and have to be considered. The divergent answers to this question provoke discord. For instance, which inequalities can be seen as relevant concerning the just distribution of goods, burdens, rights, and duties: gender, age, social status, kinship, national, ethnical, or religious memberships, needs (self-caused needs included or not?), merits, acquired rights, skills and expertise, fates, responsibilities (e.g., for diseases or injuries which produce high costs for the community), etc.? What is to


L. Montada

be applied in which cases? Or should various relevant inequalities be accounted for in combination – according to which formula? In the ongoing disputes, arguments are inspired by egalitarianism, liberalism, social welfarism, and utilitarianism. Human and civil rights are also a basis for pleas. Since Thomas Hobbes (1651, 1970), mutual advantage is a prominent criterion for choosing justice rules. However, apart from direct exchange relationships it is open to question, whose advantage is to be considered at all. To this day, we have interesting debates among philosophers and within the political arena but no consent: The preferred standards of distributive justice vary between and within cultures. Walzer (1983) has somewhat neutralized the justice problems with inequalities by his concept of “complex equality,” meaning that distributions in different “spheres of justice” (material wealth, social recognition in various contexts, political power, education, kinship and love, recreation time, etc.) are not perfectly correlated. Thus, a lower rank in one sphere may be compensated by a higher one within another sphere. Taking into account that the subjective importance of spheres varies, the subjectively perceived overall inequalities may be reduced. Similar questions are discussed in all other objects of justice appraisals, mentioned before. Likewise, when evaluating exchange relationships or accomplishments, heroic and criminal deeds, specific inequalities of actors are taken into account. The same is true for voting rights: Think of acquired rights, quota systems, imparted rights to veto, the weighting of votes, or think of all the arguments against political referenda. Conclusion: “Equality” is to specify. Divergent specifications are debatable and they are the cause for disputes and conflicts. A look at the codified constitutions and legal codes of states, as well as the normative rules and maxims of religions, communities and organizations, the charta of human rights also gives evidence of large existing divergencies: • • • •

The constitutions and legal codes of states are highly diverging. Every law can be criticized on the basis of some justice principle. Legal codes may violate some human rights or laws of some religion. The charta of human rights contravenes the normative traditions of cultures. For instance, may the dignity of human beings be determined universally or does it have to be specified according to culturally shared values or to individual values as formulated, for instance, in living wills (Montada, 2010b)? • Different cultures have, of course, diverging conceptions of justice, of ethics, of social roles and conventions, diverging standards of respectful behavior, of honor etc. Cultures are definable by their normative specifics.

All these codes of normative rules reflect formerly or currently predominant views of justice within social units and all may have an impact on shaping the sense of justice of individuals and of collectives. Within pluralistic societies, many of these diverging sources are available and may serve people to find their personal normative orientation.

The Normative Impact of Empirical Justice Research


Thesis 5: We Have No Access to an Objective Truth about Justice; We Can Ascertain only Subjective Views The crucial question is whether the empirical fact of divergent convictions is normatively irrelevant, because these are subjective convictions and not normative truths. The counter-questions are: Do we have access to an objective truth at all, or do we only have access to subjective beliefs about the truth? The belief that the truth was conveyed to humans by divine revelation is also a subjective belief, which may be shared by more or less large collectives. All we can learn about justice has the status of subjective beliefs, which may be more or less well reasoned. This also holds true for ethical discourses in philosophy, aiming at gaining knowledge of universal ethical truths (Apel, 1976). We do not have empirical evidence that heterogeneously composed discourse groups come to identical results. Moreover, as Habermas (1993) has argued, the justification of the validity of an abstract moral maxim or principle is to be distinguished from the justification of decisions in concrete cases where competing principles are considered relevant with good reason. Nevertheless, everybody is speaking of justice in the singular – the justice – as if one single view of justice would be the valid one in general or in a concrete case and had to be acknowledged and shared by everybody else (R€uthers, 1991). We all have normative convictions which we believe to be “true,” or even “sacred” and “not negotiable.” And we tend to prefer mates, friends and peers who share our convictions. Some may be shared by large collectives; they are, however, not shared universally. Once again, generally approved truths about justice – suggested by the exclusive use of the singular the justice – cannot be identified, neither empirically, nor normatively. What is true or not cannot be decided objectively, it is a matter of subjective convictions. And we don’t know of any person or institution that were globally recognized as the authority to decide what is just and what is unjust. Consequently, the question what is just and what is unjust is debatable and may cause social conflicts. Within social units, conflicts are reduced when convictions are widely shared and when the decisions of institutions (legislators, courts) or personal authorities (priests, arbitrators) are broadly recognized. Trust in the justice of constitutional bodies (parliaments, supreme courts, courts) has the same effect (W€urtenberger, 1984).

Thesis 6: Diverging Views about Justice May Cause Social Conflicts. All Social Conflicts Are Basically Justice Conflicts The eminent impact of divergent convictions of justice becomes evident by the fact that all social conflicts are basically justice conflicts. It is a widespread assumption that social conflicts result from incompatible goals, interests, opinions, beliefs, etc.


L. Montada

However, such incompatibilities between persons, groups and other social entities are not sufficient to cause conflicts: • Diverging goals may be considered as legitimate or as an offense. • Diverging views may be appreciated as worthy of consideration, or, for instance, as disrespectful or insulting. • Diverging religious beliefs may be tolerated as a matter of legitimate personal freedom or condemned as a betrayal or as an affront to a community. • Fair competition is not a social conflict. If all actors in competitive markets and sports are considered to behave legitimately, pursuing their legitimate selfinterest, frustrations and losses are possible, but they do not evoke resentment. There are winners and losers, but not victimizers and victims. The losers may have performed poorly, they may have been unfortunate, but they have nothing to reproach the winners for, unless they believe that the competition has not been carried out fairly. Being treated unjustly is quite another experience than having lost a fair game. Social conflicts result from perceived illegitimate and, insofar, unjust behavior of other actors, from violated or threatened normative expectations of how other people, groups, agencies, authorities, companies, etc. have to behave. People may expect that others meet the normative standards, entitlements and claims which they, personally, believe to be just. This is a new definition of social conflict. In their chapter in this book, T€ornblom and Kazemi cite ten definitions of conflict by prominent authors from various academic disciplines, highlighting different aspects of conflicts (Box 1). In my view, neither of these definitions refers necessary or sufficient conditions or reasons for a social conflict. By far not every divergency, not every incompatible or competing interest does end in a conflict. When they do end in a conflict and when they do not? The sole answer I can find is that conflicts arise when at least one party perceives own subjectively legitimate normative expectations violated or threatened by illegitimate actions or omissions of another party. Searching for the common core of all social conflicts, we will find manifest or latent reproaches of illegitimate actions or omissions or even of illegitimate thoughts and attitudes – one-sided or reciprocal reproaches. It makes a crucial difference, whether divergent views, values, beliefs, opinions, convictions of others are considered legitimate or not. The same holds true in case of divergent or incompatible needs, interests, goals of actors. And, of course, it holds true for incompatible behavior as can be illustrated in sport or in the markets: As long as nobody breaks the rules, we have legitimate competitions, not conflicts. Normative expectations are present in every social interaction, even in virtual ones as those between authors and readers of a text about justice. We become aware of our expectations when they get threatened or violated. The normative contents of those expectations may have various sources: human rights, a legal code, the imperatives and bans of a religion, the culture-bound

The Normative Impact of Empirical Justice Research


standards of justice in specific situations, formal or implicit contracts, etc. Crucial is the fact that actors consider them as legitimate and as rightfully to be claimed. The key symptom of conflicts is resentment. Resentment has three conditions: (1) perceived unjust (illegitimate) behavior of actors, (2) the attribution of responsibility to the actors (meaning that they would have been able and free to act in another way and that they have intended the effects of their behavior or could at least foresee them) and (3) the lack of a convincing justification for the norm violation (Deutsch, 2006; Mikula & Wenzel, 2000). Perceived injustice instigates resentment, reproaches, wishes for retaliation, or claims for compensation or punishment. A look at aggression research reveals that it is not mere frustration that instigates aggressive tendencies, but only arbitrary, “illegitimate” frustration (Bierhoff, 1998; Moore, 1978; Pastore, 1952). Relative deprivation instigates aggression if it is considered unjust (Crosby, 1982). Aggression theories which emphasize anger as emotional antecedent of aggression share this basic assumption (Berkowitz, 1993). Aggression may have other motives, e.g. selfishness, envy, or striving for power, but, no doubt, resentment is one of the motives of aggression. Conflicts will become manifest (1) when “the victims” reproach “the perpetrators” for their behavior, (2) and “the perpetrators” do neither change their behavior, (3) nor excuse it, (4) nor justify it convincingly, (5) but ignore or refuse the reproaches. The latter is to be expected when they consider their behavior as justified, e.g. by legal, moral, or social norms, by legitimate self-interest, or as a just retaliation for an antecedent behavior of the claimant. In established conflicts, all parties consider their own behavior as just or legitimate and reproach the behavior of the adversaries. Who is the victim and who is the perpetrator is often a matter of “punctuations” in an ongoing sequence of interactions.

Thesis 7: Making Peace by Reconcilement of Conflicts about Justice Is Much More Productive than Fighting about the Truth of Diverging Justice Beliefs Disputes about the truth about justice are not productive. An objective, “ultimate” truth cannot be defined nor claimed. Therefore, a change of perspective is to deliberate: from the strife for the truth about justice to efforts to reconcile conflicts about justice. As conflicts stem from subjective “truths,” the objective truth would not even be relevant if we were able to find it out, unless it would be accepted as true by all conflict parties. For appeasing conflicts, it is sufficient if the conflict parties attain more convergence of their subjective “truths.”


L. Montada

Strategies for the Settlement of Conflicts I would like to emphasize mediation as a procedure to analyze and to settle conflicts. Most of the relevant knowledge is compiled in the literature on conflict mediation. It offers a broad spectrum of procedural options, which are based on empirical, mostly psychological research – on justice believes and motives, on constructive and destructive forms of communication, on aggression, on emotions and their mental regulation, on creativity, which is needed for the generation of options for the settlement of a conflict, on cognitive biases, which may obstruct a constructive settlement, etc. (Montada & Kals, 2007). These bodies of knowledge should be available for professional mediators, they can, however, also be used by conflict parties when no mediator is involved in the settlement of their conflict. There are various options for the settlement of conflicts. I will mention and comment on some basic strategies.

Making Conflicting Normative Expectations Converge If the assumption is valid that social conflicts basically result from incompatible normative expectations or claims – which are conceivable as justice claims (Montada, 2007a) –, making conflicting convictions converge is the self-evident strategy for settling conflicts. This can be illustrated by the fact that sincere apologies by a norm violator have a verifiable pacifying effect. Why? As Goffman (1971) has emphasized, by apologies the perpetrators express that they fully share the victims’ view of the case. They affirm the violated norm as a valid ought, they concede to have offended the norm, to be responsible for their action or omission, that they are blameworthy because their offense was not justified. Moreover, the perpetrators concede that the victim is free to accept or reject their apology. It is empirically proven that sincere apologies reconcile victims (as well as judges and observers) and reduce their resentment and their desire for retribution (Bernhardt, 2001; Ohbuchi, Agarie, & Kameda, 1989). Thereby, a complete consent about the origin of the conflict is expressed, and the conflict is settled. (1) Convergence may be imparted by authorities who are recognized and whose justice is trusted by all conflicting parties: religious or political leaders, courts, authorities in a clan, in a community, or in the working context the conflicting parties belong to. For example, whoever puts trust in the jurisdiction of courts and judges will accept their sentence, even as the loser: the conflict then is settled. If this trust is lacking, it will be different. Then the losers deem the sentence unjust and might appeal or they will pursue their conflict on another field; they strive for retaliation, or, else, they suffer the subjective injustice helplessly. Active strife for justice might be given up as in vain, but the relationship between the adversaries remains poisoned, the conflict continues to be a mortgage for future exchanges, or the exchanges are broken off.

The Normative Impact of Empirical Justice Research


(2) Convergence can be achieved by means of normative discourses, which must not have the objective to find the normative truth. In conflict mediation they merely serve to convey the insight that good reasons can be put forward not only for one’s own views and claims but, equally, for the opponent’s views and claims, and, maybe, also for further stances that could be taken in the case. The aims are to convey the insight that a dilemma or polylemma is on hand and to bring the conflict parties to phrase not only the arguments in favor of the own position but also to deliberate the counter-arguments as well as the arguments in favor of the position held by the opponents (Montada, 2010a). Settling conflicts is made easier when the opponents acknowledge that divergent norms or principles of justice may be advocated with good reasons, and, consequently, that neither party is solely right or wrong. If the opponents recognize that their conflict reflects a normative dilemma, they no longer view the position of the other side as completely illegitimate and their own position as the only legitimate one. Two examples for conflicts about distributions and losses may illustrate the point: • Should the inheritance of parents be divided equally among their children, or equitably according to their merits (e.g., their provided care for the parents, their contributions to the social status of the family), or according to their neediness (e.g., their income or the number of children). • Which employees should be dismissed first when business is running low? Several justice principles may be considered: seniority, acquired merits by previous performances, current performance level, neediness (e.g., number of dependent children), gender, age, the amount of wages to pay, etc.? Or should nobody be dismissed, and the worktime as well as the wages of all employees cut, proportionally or not, etc.? In normative discourses, the conflicting positions or claims for justice are both supported and criticized. When good arguments are put forward, the opponents may relativize their views and claims. They recognize that none of the conflicting claims is solely valid. This is not a normative relativism meaning “No norm or normative maxim is valid!” In contrast, it is the insight into a normative dilemma, meaning “No normative maxim has exclusive validity. Many maxims may be applied with good reason in the specific case at stake.” Applying, for instance, one single principle of distributive justice would violate all other principles that might be also taken into consideration with some good reason. When the opponents come to realize that a dilemma is underlying their conflict, the conflict will be attenuated, diluted – a precondition for future cooperation. It is the wisdom of institutions to consider and integrate various principles of justice in their regulations and decisions (Elster, 1992). The social market economy, for instance, is an attempt to harmonize the right of all citizens to free economic activities with the maxims of the social welfare state. Rawls’ well-known “Maximin principle” is also a suggestion to combine the freedom to economic activities – which


L. Montada

produces common wealth – with the entitlement of every citizen to participate in the common prosperity (Rawls, 1971). (3) Also in trials, normative discourses would contribute to reconciliation. Sentences produce winners and losers. Only if also the losers view the law, the judge, and the sentence as just, the conflict will be settled. Judges can try to convince the losers that their sentence is just, or at least to justify as legally correct. To that end they have to give voice to all parties, make sure that they have understood their views and positions, and take time and effort to justify their views of the law, the case, and their judgment with convincing arguments. If that is done in a respectful way, the losers get the impression of being treated in a fair manner. This impression triggers “the fair procedure effect” (cf. Tyler, Boeckmann, Smith, & Huo, 1997) meaning that even unfavorable sentences are accepted without resentment. Judges have to obey the law. But the law may not adequately fit the essential features and contents of an actual conflict and the law may be criticized as unjust with some good reason. In that case, judges could refer the parties to possibilities of extra-judicial reconciliation, e.g. in a mediation process, in which they are not bound to a law that is problematic concerning the case.

Reappraising the Personal Importance Attributed to the Conflict, the Contingent Losses and Impairments, and the Perceived Injustice Transcending the actual conflict is the general advice for reappraising the personal weight the opponents attribute to the conflict, its consequences and the personally suffered injustices. Several strategies may be used to transcend a conflict (Montada & Kals, 2007). • Hot conflicts typically cause a mental constriction. The opponents are “out of their minds” insofar as they are no longer aware of the whole spectrum of their important concerns and all facets of their personal self-concept. The suffered injustice, the blameworthiness of the opponents, retaliation, enforcing one’s claims become the dominant mental topics. Making the opponents aware again of the whole spectrum of their important personal concerns and values will resolve this constriction. Consequently, they become able to recognize that continued efforts to enforce their positions in the conflict might generate many opportunity costs with respect to their important personal concerns. This might open their mind to think about options for a constructive settlement of the conflict. • Exploring opportunities for positive exchanges with the opponents is one category of such options. One of the important shifts of perspective in mediation is that from negative exchanges to the opportunities of positive exchanges, positive with respect to important concerns of the parties. It is easy to create win-win outcomes when opportunities of positive exchange do exist or can be generated. • Including unsettled previous conflicts in an overall solution. Frequently, the history of a conflict is the history of reciprocal retributions that are not intended

The Normative Impact of Empirical Justice Research


to yield own gains but solely to harm the adversary. Giving them up mutually does not have costs, but only gains. • Considering the concerns of third parties affected by the conflict, as e.g. the concerns of the children in divorce conflicts. This will overcome the egocentrism in conflicts and open the opponents’ minds for the fact that their conflict causes problems with others who might not at all be responsible for the conflict. • Quite frequently, the opponents have some ambivalences with their own positions they are fighting for. Making these aware may change their attitudes in the conflict. These are productive strategies for settling conflicts and making win-win outcomes possible. I will not say more to this issue, because a second path is more important for the topic of justice.

Redefining, Reorganizing or Dissolving the Relationship Conflicts may result from diverging views of the relationship between the opponents and diverging claims of the opponents concerning the kind of their relationship. A typical structure of such conflicts is described as social role conflicts (Joas, 1973), which occur in all kinds of social interactions. Miller (2001) emphasizes the role of violated expectations of respectful behavior in a broad spectrum of social conflicts. Diverging views and claims with respect to the kind and structure of the relationship may cause conflicts in families, peer groups, neighborhoods, organizations, working contexts, between citizens and administrations, between majorities and minority groups, and between states. These conflicts give reason to reflect and, if needed, to modify the kind of relationship. A redefinition of mutual role expectations, a clear assignment of responsibilities, e.g. at the work place, may be helpful. In other cases, conflicts can be settled by drawing borderlines – fences between neighbors, safe and respected frontiers between states. In even other cases a separation might be a productive option, e.g. a divorce, or a split – off of a family enterprise, or the granting of autonomy to a province with an ethnic minority.

Thesis 8: The Aim of Conflict Settlement Is a Just Peace Conflicts are social exchanges. They result from perceived violations or threats of normative expectations and subjective entitlements. Conflicts may be costly for one or for all parties. They may be a mortgage for future exchanges or even end in lasting hostility. Productive and sustainable conflict resolutions presuppose that a new basis and/or new contents for the relationship and for exchanges will be found or created. In the agreement, it might be specified whether and how past impairments will be regulated, what shall be exchanged in the future, and which


L. Montada

rules shall be observed in future exchanges. These questions have to be answered with reference to justice. A conflict is reconciled when the resentment of the conflicting parties is dissolved. Unquestionably, only a just peace is a sustainable peace – an unjust “peace” would be a cause for new conflicts. However, it is not objective justice which is required for peace, but inter-subjective justice, meaning that all parties consider the settlement of their conflict as being a just one. Sentences and decisions by authorities carry the risk that they produce winners and losers, and that the losers feel treated unjustly. Settling conflicts by an agreement, by a contract, is the preferable option.

What Is the Base of Justice in Contracts? Contracts are regarded to be just when the parties are equally free to consent or not to consent and when the parties are equally well informed about all relevant facts and risks (Nozick, 1974). If the parties consent to an agreement equally free and equally informed, they will consider the agreement to be just. This does not mean objective, but inter-subjective justice. A contract which the parties have agreed upon freely and well-informed cannot be unjust to one of the parties. However, justice would be at risk if relevant information had been withheld to one of the contracting parties, or if pressure had been exerted, or if a party had not been free to refuse the contract on account of some predicament, e.g. neediness. Therefore, unequal power, unequal neediness, unequal abilities to grasp complex information are risks which may jeopardize the justice of agreements.1 These risks can be reduced if the agreements are negotiated under the guidance of mediators who have the duty to actively balance such inequalities. Mediators also have to take care of the justice of contracts with regard to affected third parties, including communities. A possible misunderstanding should be avoided. The assumed autonomy or freedom of the parties does not mean that they are or feel free for every agreement. They may have normative convictions which they consider holy and not negotiable. They may feel bound by religious norms, by expectations of significant others (family members, peers, authorities, communities, etc.), by expectations of an organization which they represent in the actual negotiation (e.g., an employers association, a union, a citizen’s initiative) that they do not want to disappoint; they have personal concerns which they will not give up for an agreement and they may


Because contracts are of eminent importance for peace in social life, many legal norms have been established which specify the obligations of the contracting parties. Specific legal rules have been established to protect the supposedly less powerful or less informed parties in business contracts.

The Normative Impact of Empirical Justice Research


feel responsible for third parties and their concerns. All this in mind, what they agree upon might be their free decision which they are responsible for. Equal freedom to consent or not to consent and equal information as sources of justice have also been the basic idea in social contract theories of the state (Kersting, 1994), beginning with Hobbes (1651, 1970): Free citizens agree upon the constitution and the legal code of a state. This agreement constitutes the justice of the constitution and the legal code which will be observed by the citizens because they are just. According to this model, majority decisions in parliaments can only be an “ultima ratio.” They bear the risk that the loosing minority considers the decision as an “octroy.” An octroy is a one-sided enforcement; it is rejected as unjust and intensifies the antecedent conflicts. Who will voluntarily observe laws which he or she views as unjust, especially if there is hope that the law will be cancelled after the next elections, when new majorities will be in power. Laws with expected half-life periods of 1 or 2 years have no binding force. Agreement is the prerequisite for their acknowledgment as just. Last but not least: Agreements shall not be unjust to third parties. In the settlement of conflicts, the opponents are considered autonomous to negotiate an agreement. However, appraising the justice of contracts would be incomplete without having a look at their impact on third parties. Adverse effects on third parties would raise new justice problems. Contracts may be fair with respect to the exchanges between the contracting parties but may be seriously unfair with respect to third parties or a community. For instance, cartel agreements may be fair for the contracting parties, but they are made at the expense of others. Therefore, it is prudent to expand the view from the contracting parties to the impact of an agreement on third parties and the public. Contracts at the cost of third parties are externally unjust and a cause for new conflicts. Extending this maxim, it is obvious that the contracting parties have to observe the existing law.

References Apel, K. O. (1976). Transformation der Philosophie. Das Apriori der Kommunikationsgemeinschaft (Vol. 2) [Transformation in philosophy. Apriority of a community based on communication]. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Barry, B. (1989). Theories of justice. Berkeley: University of California Press. Berkowitz, L. (1993). Aggression. Its causes, consequences, and control. New York: Mac Graw Hill. Bernhardt, K. (2001). Ein kognitives Trainingsprogramm zur Steuerung von Emp€ orung [A cognitive training to regulate outrage]. Doctoral dissertation, University of Trier, Trier, Germany. Retrieved from http://ub-dok.uni-trier.de/diss/diss11/2001 ¨ rger, Aggression und Gerechtigkeit [Anger, aggression, and justice]. Bierhoff, H.-W. (1998). A In H.-W. Bierhoff & U. Wagner (Eds.), Aggression und Gewalt: Ph€ anomene, Ursachen und Interventionen (pp. 26–47). Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Crosby, F. A. (1982). Relative deprivation and working women. New York: Oxford University Press.


L. Montada

Dalbert, C. (2001). The justice motive as a personal resource. New York: Kluwer. Dalbert, C., & Umlauft, S. (2009). The role of the justice motive in economic decision making. Journal of Economic Psychology, 30, 172–180. Deutsch, M. (2006). Justice and conflict. In M. Deutsch, P. T. Coleman, & E. C. Marcus (Eds.), The handbook of conflict resolution (pp. 43–68). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Elster, J. (1989). The cement of society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Elster, J. (1992). Local justice. New York: Russel Sage Foundation. Fehr, E., & G€achter, G. (2002). Altruistic punishments in humans. Nature, 415, 137–140. € Fehr, E., & Schwarz, G. (Eds.). (2003). Psychologische Grundlagen der O¨konomie: Uber Vernunft und Eigennutz hinaus [Psychological basics of economics: It’s not only about rationality and self-interest]. Z€urich: Verlag Neue Z€ uricher Zeitung. Gerhard, C. (2007). Gemeinwohl vs. Eigennutz [Welfare vs. self-interest]. Saarbr€ucken: VDM Verlag Dr. M€uller. Goffman, E. (1971). Relations in public: Microstudies of the public order. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Gosepath, S. (2004). Gleiche Gerechtigkeit. Grundlagen eines liberalen Egalitarismus [Even justice. Basics of a liberal egalitarianism]. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Green, D. P., & Shapiro, I. (1994). Pathologies of rational choice theory. New Haven: Yale University Press. Habermas, J. (1993). Justification and application. Cambridge: MIT Press. Hobbes, T. (1651, 1970). Leviathan. London: Dent. Ittner, H., & Montada, L. (2009). Gerechtigkeit und Umweltpolitik [Justice an environmental policy]. Umweltpsychologie, 13(1), 35–51. Joas, H. (1973). Die gegenw€ artige Lage der soziologischen Rollentheorie [The current situation of the sociological role theory]. Frankfurt am Main: Athen€aum. Kals, E. (1999). Der Mensch nur ein zweckrationaler Entscheider? [Is the human deciding purpose-rationally only?]. Zeitschrift f€ ur Politische Psychologie, 3, 267–293. Kals, E., Maes, J., & Becker, R. (2001). The overestimated impact of self-interest and the underestimated impact of justice motives. Trames. Journal of Humanities and Social Scienes, 55, 269–287. Kersting, W. (1994). Die politische Philosophie des Gesellschaftsvertrags [The political philosophy of the social contract]. Darmstadt: WBG. Koller, P. (1995). Soziale Gleichheit und Gerechtigkeit [Social equality and justice]. In H. P. M€uller & B. Wegener (Eds.), Soziale Ungleichheit und soziale Gerechtigkeit (pp. 53–80). Opladen: Leske und Budrich. Lerner, M. J. (1980). The belief in a just world: A fundamental delusion. New York: Plenum Press. Maes, J. (2004). Gerechtigkeit und eigennutz: Macht und mythos zweier motive [Justice and selfinterest: Myth and reality of two motives]. In K. Horstmann, M. H€uttenhoff, & H. Koriath (Eds.), Gerechtigkeit – eine Illusion? Anst€ oße zur interdisziplin€ aren Verst€ andigung (Vol. 5, pp. 125–143). M€unster: Lit-Verlag. Maes, J., & Montada, L. (1989). Verantwortlichkeit f€ ur “Schicksalsschl€age”: Eine Pilotstudie [Responsibility for “strokes of fate”: A pilot study]. Psychologische Beitr€ age, 31, 107–124. Mikula, G., & Wenzel, M. (2000). Justice and social conflicts. International Journal of Psychology, 35(2), 126–135. Miller, D. T. (2001). Disrespect and the experience of injustice. Annual Reviews Psychology, 52, 527–553. Montada, L. (1998). Justice: Just a rational choice? Social Justice Research, 12, 81–101. Montada, L. (2003). Justice, equity, and fairness in human relations. In J. Weiner, T. Millon, & M. J. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of psychology (Vol. 5, pp. 537–568). Hoboken: Wiley. Montada, L. (2007a). Justice conflicts and the justice of conflict resolution. In K. T€ornblom & R. Vermunt (Eds.), Distributive and procedural justice. Research and applications (pp. 255–268). Burlington: Ashgate/Glower. Montada, L. (2007b). Emotions based aggression motives. In G. Steffgen & M. Gollwitzer (Eds.), Emotions and aggressive behavior (pp. 19–37). G€ ottingen: Hogrefe.

The Normative Impact of Empirical Justice Research


Montada, L. (2008). Moral education by mediation. In F. Oser & W. Veugelers (Eds.), Getting involved. Global citizenship development and sources of moral values (pp. 251–264). Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. Montada, L. (2010a). Mediation – Pfade zum Frieden [Mediation – Establishing peace]. Erw€ agen, Wissen, Ethik, 20(4), 549–560. Montada, L. (2010b). Replik. Unterschiedliche Mediationsmodelle – Ein Fall f€ur Mediation? [Replica. Different methods of mediation – Can mediation help?]. Erw€ agen, Wissen, Ethik, 20(4), 586–607. Montada, L., & Kals, E. (2000). Political implications of psychological research on ecological justice and pro-environmental behaviors. International Journal of Psychology, 35, 168–176. Montada, L., & Kals, E. (2007). Mediation. Ein Lehrbuch auf psychologischer Grundlage. [Mediation. A textbook based on psychology]. Weinheim: PsychologieVerlagsUnion. Montada, L., & Lerner, M. J. (Eds.). (1998). Responses to victimizations and belief in a just world. New York: Plenum Press. Montada, L., Schneider, A., & Reichle, B. (1988). Emotionen und Hilfsbereitschaft [Emotions and helpfulness]. In H. W. Bierhoff & L. Montada (Eds.), Altruismus – Bedingungen der Hilfsbereitschaft (pp. 130–153). G€ ottingen: Hogrefe. Moore, B. (1978). Injustice: The social bases of obedience and revolt. London: Macmillan. Nozick, R. (1974). Anarchy, state and utopia. New York: Basic Books. Ohbuchi, K., Agarie, N., & Kameda, M. (1989). Apology as aggression control: Its role in mediation appraisal of and response to harm. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56(2), 219–227. Orth, U. (2000). Strafgerechtigkeit und Bew€ altigung krimineller Viktimisierung [Justice of punishment and coping with victimization of criminals]. Mainz: Weisser Ring Verlag. Pastore, N. (1952). The role of arbitrariness in the frustration – Aggression hypothesis. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 47, 728–731. Ramb, B.-T., & Tietzel, M. (Eds.). (1993). O¨konomische Verhaltenstheorie [Economical behavioral theory]. M€ unchen: Framz Vahlen. Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Reichle, B., Schneider, A., & Montada, L. (1998). How do observers of victimization preserve their believe in a just world: Cognitively or actionally? Findings from a longitudinal study. In L. Montada & M. J. Lerner (Eds.), Responses to victimizations and belief in a just world. Critical issues in social justice (pp. 55–64). New York: Plenum Press. Ross, M., & Miller, D. T. (2002). The justice motive in everyday life. New York: Cambridge University Press. R€ uthers, B. (1991). Das Ungerechte an der Gerechtigkeit: Defizite eines Begriffs [The injustice of justice: Problems of defining the term]. Z€ urich: Edition Interfrom. Schmidt, V. A. (2000). Bedingte Gerechtigkeit. Soziologische Analysen und philosophische Theorien [Contingent justice. Sociological analyses and philosophical theories]. Frankfurt am Main: Campus. Schmitt, M., Gollwitzer, M., Maes, J., & Arbach, D. (2005). Justice sensitivity: Assessment and location in the personality space. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 21, 202–211. Thibaut, J., & Walker, L. (1975). Procedural justice: A psychological analysis. New York: Wiley. Tyler, T. R., Boeckmann, R. J., Smith, H. J., & Huo, Y. J. (1997). Social justice in a diverse society. Boulder: Westview Press. Walster, E., Walster, G. W., & Berscheid, E. (1978). Equity: Theory and research. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Walzer, M. (1983). Spheres of justice: A defense of pluralism and equality. New York: Basic Books. W€ urtenberger, T. (1984). Legitimit€at und Gesetz [Legitimicy and law]. In B. R€uthers & K. Stern (Eds.), Freiheit und Verantwortung im Verfassungsstaat (pp. 533–550). M€unchen: C. H. Beck. Zippelius, R. (1994). Rechtsphilosophie [Legal philosophy]. M€unchen: C. H. Beck.


Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework Kjell T€ornblom and Ali Kazemi

Abstract A thorough understanding of conflicts is crucial as conflicts may be destructive to the welfare of individuals, groups, and societies. Conflicts are closely related to justice concerns in that perceived injustices give rise to conflicts and destructive conflicts give rise to injustices. However, the notion of conflict is rather underdeveloped and the definition of it often taken for granted in justice theory and research. In this chapter we propose a useful conceptualization and classification of justice conflicts. Specifically, five types of conceptual distributive justice conflicts, five types of social distributive justice conflicts, and three types of a mixture of both are defined and described. Some of these basic types, in turn, encompass two or more subtypes of conflict. These result in different dilemmas and processes, the natures of which are likely to have important implications for conflict resolution. The present chapter highlights several shortcomings of current conceptualizations of justice conflict, and provides a new integrated framework for a more systematic approach.

Introduction Almost every academic discipline has its theoretical approach of understanding conflicts – economists are focused on game-theory and decision-making, psychologists explore interpersonal conflicts, sociologists take status and class conflicts as the focal point, while political science is centered on intra-national and international conflicts. Therefore to review the conflict literature as a whole is an almost impossible task. (Axt, Milososki, & Schwarz, 2006, p. 2).

K. T€ornblom (*) • A. Kazemi Social Psychology Section, Center for Social Justice Research, School of Technology and Society, University of Sk€ovde, Sk€ ovde, Sweden e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_2, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

The definition of conflict is often taken for granted or ignored in justice research. However, conflict is a very complex concept with lots of implied meanings. This chapter presents an attempt to construct a framework within which different types of distributive justice conflicts are distinguished and conceptualized. Five types of conceptual (or potential) distributive justice conflicts, five types of social distributive justice conflicts, and three types of a mixture of both types are described. Some of these encompass two or more ‘subtypes.’ We show, for a few of the basic conflict types, how the component subtypes may be rank ordered in terms of magnitude of injustice and conflict intensity. Several testable hypotheses are thereby offered. The framework proposed in this chapter may shed new light on previous research by relating and integrating individual and seemingly unconnected studies. It may also serve as a useful basis on which future studies of justice conflict may be designed, thereby making them comparable, cumulative, and theoretically meaningful, facilitating more precise predictions. Although no new data will be presented here, the proposed framework facilitates the generation of a multitude of inter-related studies.

Conflict Conceptual Confusion Conflict is a concept that is used and misused in many disciplines. Comparisons between existing studies of social conflict are difficult due to conceptual confusion and the multitude of existing definitions of conflict. Dirks and McLean Parks (2003, pp. 283–284) report that ‘A recent search on only the electronic database, PsychINFO, produced over 30,000 references to conflict.’ The concept is frequently used in different ways (it designates different phenomena), and the same phenomenon (conflict) is named by several terms: e.g., incompatibility, inconsistency, contradiction, discord, disjunction, divergence, disagreement, incongruence, or discrepancy. Indeed, ‘. . .the disagreement over the exact notion of conflict as a term dominates until today’ (Axt et al., 2006, p. 2). Examples of common definitions of conflict are listed in Box 1. Thus, ‘Conflict is . . . a rubber concept being stretched and molded for the purposes at hand’ (Mack & Snyder, 1957, p. xx). And this is true even for specific ‘subtypes’ of conflict. ‘Role conflict,’ for instance, has ‘. . .almost as many definitions as there were investigators’ (Biddle, 1979, p. 161). This situation hinders cumulative knowledge and makes theoretically interrelated and systematic predictions difficult.

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


Box 1: Some Common Definitions of Conflict • ‘Conflict means perceived divergence of interest, or a belief that the parties’ current aspirations cannot be achieved simultaneously’ (Rubin, Pruitt, & Kim, 1994, p. 5) • ‘Conflict is a situation in which interdependent people express (manifest or latent) differences in satisfying their individual needs and interests, and they experience interference from each other in accomplishing these goals’ (Donohue & Kolt, 1992, p. 3). • Conflict occurs ‘. . .when two or more interdependent actors have incompatible preferences and perceive or anticipate resistance from each other’ (Lawler & Ford, 1995, p. 236). • Conflict (Kampf) is ‘. . .a social relationship within which action. . .is oriented intentionally to carrying out the actor’s own will against the resistance of the other party or parties’ (Weber, 1947, p. 132). • ‘Conflict is social interaction in which the actors oppose one another in some manner’ (Olsen, 1978, p. 308). • Conflict is ‘. . .an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals’ (Wilmot & Hocker, 1998, p. 41). • Social conflict is ‘. . .a struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power and resources in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure or eliminate their rivals’ (Coser, 1956, p. 8). • Conflict is ‘. . .the pursuit of incompatible goals by different groups’ (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse, & Miall, 2005, p. 27). • Conflict is ‘. . .a situation in which oppositely directed forces of about equal strength play upon the person simultaneously’ (Lewin, 1948). • Conflict exists ‘. . .whenever incompatible activities occur . . . an action which prevents, obstructs, interferes with, injures, or in some way makes (resolution) less likely or less effective’ (Deutsch, 1973, p. 156).

Typological Confusion A typology of conflicts is essential for the systematic analysis of conflict. A good typology should be exhaustive, contain mutually exclusive categories, and be operationally explicit. Unfortunately, current conflict research is in a state of (not only conceptual but also) typological confusion, with as many typologies as analysts, some of which contain two types and others more than 20 (Ramsbotham et al., 2005). Deutsch’s (1973) basic distinction between destructive and constructive types of conflict is well known as is his typology (Deutsch, 1973) which includes six types of conflict: vertical, contingent, displaced, misattributed, latent, and false conflict. Moore (1996) distinguishes among five types of conflict as seen


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

by mediators: data, interest, value, relationship, and structural conflict. Diez, Stetter, and Albert (2004) proposed a four-level typology: conflict episodes, issue conflicts, identity conflicts, and power conflicts. Pfetsch (1994) lists five types: latent conflict, manifest conflict, crisis, severe crisis, and war. The criteria according to which the typologies are generated differ from one to the other.

Social and Conceptual Conflicts Among the sources of social conflict that Olsen (1978, p. 149) lists (under the category of ‘Disjunction between culture and social order’) are (1) ‘incongruences between basic values and norms and rules,’ (2) ‘inconsistencies among norms and rules,’ and (3) ‘discrepancies between cultural ideals and actual social practices.’ These subcategories hint at a distinction between ‘social’ conflicts and what we might call ‘conceptual’ conflicts – social conflict, referring to discord between actors (as defined by most of the theorists cited in Box 1), while conceptual conflict, refers to ‘discord,’ ‘incongruence,’ ‘inconsistency,’ ‘incompatibility,’ ‘divergence,’ ‘discrepancy,’ etc. (a) between concepts/phenomena such as values, norms, and rules, and (b) between concepts like these and behavior (e.g., non-conformity and anti-conformity, when defined as a discrepancy between a norm and behavior). It is obvious that social conflict and what we have termed ‘conceptual’ conflict are not identical phenomena, particularly if we take seriously Mack and Snyder’s (1957) six propositions about the essential nature of social conflict: 1. Conflict requires at least two actors (individuals or organizations), since it is by definition an interaction relationship. 2. Conflict arises from some kind of ‘scarcity,’ or desired but limited resources, activities, positions, or goals. 3. Conflict actions are designed to limit, thwart, destroy, control, or otherwise influence another actor. 4. A conflict relationship is one in which the actors can gain only at each other’s relative expense. 5. Conflict requires interaction among actors in which their actions and counteractions are mutually opposed. 6. Conflict relations always involve attempts to acquire or exercise social power. According to this characterization of social conflict, phenomena such as the following are not classifiable as a social conflict: Role conflict, norm conflict, value conflict, justice principle conflict, conflicting expectations, attitudinal conflict, ideological conflict, and intra-psychic conflict. These phenomena represent various kinds of incompatibility, inconsistency, mismatch or similar states of affairs (see above). Lacking a better label, we use ‘conceptual conflict’ as an umbrella term for these varieties, even though ‘conflict’ may be a misnomer, considering the ways in which (social) conflict is commonly defined. However, as perceived incompatible goals, values, norms, etc. are central to most social conflicts, what we call

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


‘conceptual conflict’ may more properly be viewed as potential or latent conflicts. That is, discrepancies between concepts like values, norms, and attitudes are objects or sources of social conflict but not social conflict, per se, as conceived by Mack and Snyder (1957). Conflict is latent until action occurs. As Montada argues in his chapter (see his Thesis 6), while there are several reasons why incompatibilities will not cause conflict, ‘. . .conflicts arise when at least one party perceives own subjectively legitimate normative expectations violated or threatened by illegitimate actions or omissions of another party.’ Moreover, in Montada’s view, as other’s actions need to be perceived as illegitimate and unjust for conflict to emerge, all of the ten cited definitions of conflict in Box 1 are inadequate. Thus, we define conceptual (or potential, latent) conflict as when two or more ideas, beliefs, opinions, preferences, pieces of advice, or demands, etc., are incomparable or contradictory and cannot both be conformed to. Examples of conceptual conflict are situations in which new evidence conflicts with previous findings, in which two opposite norms both require conformity, and/or in which two or more justice principles are incompatible (e.g., when equity and equality are viewed as equally legitimate guides for resource allocation). Conceptual conflict may also occur between different ‘cognitive entities,’ e.g. between a preference and a norm (I like the idea that enemy soldiers should be killed, but I also endorse the 6th commandment ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’).

Distributive Justice Conflict Like other types of conflict concerning various substantive or focal issues (i.e., what the conflict is all about, the objects of conflict – resources like power, land, oil, etc.), conflicts concerning how resources should be justly distributed may be of both the social and the conceptual type. A social distributive justice conflict is a situation in which two or more parties struggle against each other for (scarce) resources that each party feel entitled to, each party defining just entitlement in terms of the same allocation principle. For instance, both P and O may consider their respective contribution to be the largest, and will therefore feel justly entitled to more outcomes than the other. A conceptual distributive justice conflict is a situation in which different and incompatible allocation principles or ‘subprinciples’ are perceived as equally just and legitimate for a particular resource allocation event. Distributive justice conflicts may also consist of a mixture of both kinds, i.e. a conceptual-social distributive justice conflict. An example would be two or more parties who struggle against each other for resources that each party feel entitled to, each party defining just entitlement in terms of different and incompatible allocation principles. Research that specifically deals with how (in)justice relates to conflict and conflict resolution is relatively scarce: ‘Despite the potential for conflict whenever individuals or groups disagree over processes or distributions, and despite the plethora of actual conflicts . . ., until recently justice researchers had hardly studied conflict’ (Hegtvedt, 2005, p. 38). An impressive amount of research certainly exists on various aspects of


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

‘conflict,’ but most of this work is not explicitly related to distributive or procedural justice – even though ‘Conflicts are unavoidable because the justice motive is universal but the views of what is just and what is unjust are not all universally shared’ (Montada, 2007, p. 255). Thus, conflict emerges from injustice which in turn affects the way conflicts are resolved (e.g., Kazemi, 2007). In addition, it is frequently true that ‘Justice emerges from conflict. . .’ (Deutsch, 1985, p. 100). In other words, injustice may result in conflict, and conflict often calls for its just and fair resolution. Certainly, as Mikula and Wenzel (2000, p. 127) point out, injustice does not have to be involved for conflicts to occur, but ‘. . .social conflicts frequently follow from perceptions of injustice, and pertinent divergent views of the existence of an injustice.’ Montada (2007, p. 256) makes a stronger case for a necessary connection between injustice and conflict: ‘All social conflicts may be interpreted as justice conflicts.’ If this statement is taken seriously, it seems that one of our duties as justice researchers is to clean up this rather chaotic research domain. The various ways in which conflict (social as well as conceptual) may be conceived in the context of justice seem almost endless. As an illustration of some of the ways, consider the ‘justice tree’ shown in Fig. 1 (please note that our focus is on distributive justice, not on procedural or interactional justice). The most CONCEPT











Quality Quantity

a b


Opportunity Distributive Justice


Treatment Results Biological


Basic Functional

Conflicts due to perceived injustice may occur as a result of application of application of use of inappropriate inappropriate inapproprinciple subprinciple priate criterion

Fig. 1 The distributive justice tree

inappropriate focus

inappropriate measure

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


commonly discussed and researched justice principles are the contribution (equity), equality, and need principles – although several others have been distinguished by different theorists (see T€ ornblom, 1992, for an overview of several of these sources). Furthermore, some of these that we may term ‘major’ principles may be understood in more than one way. Messick and Sentis (1983), for example, distinguished among six different types of equality principles, and Benn and Peters (1959) discuss three types of need principles. Other theorists who have noted that some of the principles are multi-faceted include Deutsch (1985), Reis (1984), and Rescher (1966). An experimental study conducted by T€ornblom and Jonsson (1985) suggested that analytical distinctions between different kinds of one particular major principle, termed ‘subprinciples,’ are empirically significant: Participants’ justice evaluations of the contribution and equality principles, respectively, varied with the subprinciples in terms of which they were represented (see T€ ornblom, 1992, for a discussion of additional studies focusing on subprinciples). In addition to distinctions among subprinciples of a particular major justice principle, it is also important to recognize its different subtypes. A typology developed by T€ ornblom (1977a) presented a large number of contribution (equity) principle (in)justice situations on the basis of the relative inputs and outcomes of two persons, when both local and referential comparisons are made. These different types of (in)justice were then rank ordered in terms of perceived intensity of injustice (for empirical verifications, see T€ ornblom, 1977b, 1982). We have included the contribution, equality, and need as major principles in the ‘justice tree’ illustration (Fig. 1). (1) Each one of these major principles may represent the very general notion of distributive justice in a particular situation. (2) Further, each major principle subsumes at least three subprinciples. Allocation of benefits on the basis of contributions to a group task may be assessed in terms of a person’s effort expended, the ability she brings to the task accomplishment situation, or her actual performance on the task. Equality may be conceived in terms of the same opportunity for all to receive some resource, the same treatment (share, allotment for) of all at every distribution occasion, or the same results for all involved recipients in terms of the goods or bads they receive over time. And allocation according to need may be determined on the basis of recipients’ biological needs (i.e., those relevant to survival), their basic needs (i.e., the bare minimum for a decent life where they live), or their functional needs (i.e., facilities required for fulfilling the requirements of one’s tasks). (3) Further, receipt according to a particular subprinciple can usually be calculated in more than one way. For example, performance may be assessed according to several criteria, say, its quality and/or its quantity. (4) In addition, one may focus different aspects of the chosen criterion. The quality of a scientist’s work may, for instance, be evaluated by the number of citations from the scientific community, or by how successful practical applications turned out to be, while quantity may be assessed by counting the number of published articles or doctoral students supervised. (5) Finally, the various aspects focused may be measured in more than one way. For example, the success of practical applications may be measured from the perspective of profit making or natural resource preservation.


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

These (actually incomplete) conceptual distinctions should make it very obvious, that the number of ways in which distributive justice conflicts may occur is staggering. Thus, even though people in general normally use the umbrella term ‘justice’ in their daily encounters with others, they most likely have a specific major principle implicitly in mind that for them represent what they mean by justice. (1) If a person erroneously assumes that the term justice has the same meaning for another person with whom she interacts, miscommunication will ensue, and the stage is set for disagreements and conflict. Thus, even though both agree to divide a resource in a just manner, if one of them equates justice with the contribution principle and the other with the need principle, conflict is likely to erupt. (2) Even if both persons may define justice in terms of an identical major principle, a second type of conflict may still occur on the subprinciple level. Even though both may agree that some resources should be distributed equally, if one person has in mind an equal number of resource units to both (i.e., equality-of-treatment), while the other takes for granted that they would flip a coin to determine their shares (i.e., equality-of-opportunity), their preferences would be incompatible and in conflict. (3) Third, even if both persons agree that resources should be justly distributed, that the contribution principle should represent justice, that performance is what should count as a relevant and legitimate contribution, one person may consider quality to be the most just criterion for evaluations of performance while the other is set on quantity. Ironically, even though the two persons may have agreed this far into the decision process and avoided conflict, they are still at risk at this level. Finally, and if successfully reaching this point in the sequence without getting into conflict is not complicated enough, conflicts may still erupt due to (4) disagreements over which aspect of a criterion (by which a subprinciple should be evaluated) is the most just one to use, and due to (5) different opinions about the most just measure of an agreed-upon aspect.

Towards a Classification of Distributive Justice Conflicts Some basic questions regarding the connection between conflict and distributive justice may be stated as: (1) ‘What type and magnitude of distributive injustice is likely to result in what type and intensity of conflict?,’ (2) ‘What type and intensity of conflict is likely to result in what kind and intensity of reactions to the conflict?’, and (3) ‘What type and intensity of conflict and reactions to the conflict is likely to result in what type of conflict resolution strategies.’ As a first step several types of social, conceptual, and social-conceptual distributive justice conflicts may be distinguished. These result in different dilemmas and processes, the nature, ramifications, and resolutions of which are likely to have important implications for justice related conceptions and behavior. Of course, for concrete analyses of justice conflicts we also need to take into account important moderators such as outcome valence, resource valence, resource type, and social context/setting/relationship. In the following we propose a tentative conceptualization and classification of 13 major types of distributive justice conflicts; five conceptual, five social, and three

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


conceptual-social justice conflicts (see Box 2). The interested reader may consult T€ornblom (1988) for an integrative framework delineating several types of socialconceptual conflict and propositions regarding influence attempts and their likely success. After brief descriptions of these types of distributive justice conflicts we will, due to space limitations, discuss only the five types marked with an asterisk (*), some in more detail than others. As we will see, some of the conflict types listed below may be further specified into subtypes. Thus, one may perhaps view the following as a ‘typology of typologies’ (i.e., a meta typology). Box 2: Conceptual, Social, and Conceptual-Social Justice Conflicts Conceptual/Potential Distributive Justice Conflict 1. *Justice Principle Determinant Conflict Two or more simultaneously salient determinants prescribe incompatible justice principles. 2. Justice Principle Conflict Two or more ‘major’ justice principles are equally relevant in a situation, and the choice of one excludes the others. 3. *Justice Subprinciple Conflict (a) Two or more justice subprinciples of one particular major justice principle are equally relevant in a situation, and the choice of one excludes the others (‘intra-major – subprinciple conflict’). (b) Two or more justice subprinciples of two or more particular major justice principles are equally relevant in a situation, and the choice of one excludes the others (‘inter-major – subprinciple conflict’). 4. *Violation of a Justice (Sub)Principle by Means of (an)other Conflicting Justice (Sub)Principle(s) (a) Inter-major inter-subprinciple violation. (b) Intra-major inter-subprinciple violation. 5. Conflict between Justice and other Goals/Considerations, e.g., (a) (b) (c) (d) (e)

Justice – self-interest conflict Self-justice – other-justice conflict Justice – empathy conflict Justice – efficiency conflict Justice – outcome favorability conflict, etc. • Favorable outcome vs. unjust outcome (i.e., advantageous injustice) • Unfavorable outcome vs. unjust outcome (i.e., disadvantageous injustice) • Unfavorable outcome vs. just outcome (i.e., disadvantageous justice) (continued)


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

Social Distributive Justice Conflict 6. *Perspective Conflict (a) Recipient – recipient conflict (inter-recipient conflict) – the resource allocator is a non-recipient third party. (b) Non-recipient allocator – recipient conflict. (c) Recipient allocator – recipient conflict. (d) Non-recipient allocator – non-recipient allocator conflict (interallocator conflict). 7. Interpersonal Justice Conflict The allocation principle considered just for one individual is viewed as unjust for other individuals. 8. Individual-Group Justice Conflict The allocation principle considered just for the individual is viewed as unjust for the group, or vice versa. 9. Intergroup Justice Conflict The allocation principle considered just for one group is viewed as unjust for other groups. 10. *Individual/Group-Intergroup Justice Conflict The states of (in)justice for two or more groups at both the individual and collective levels are taken into account. Social-Conceptual Distributive Justice Conflict 11. Interpersonal Justice Conflict [cf. type 7] Two or more individuals endorse different justice principles for the same allocation event. 12. Individual-Group Justice Conflict [cf. type 8] The individual and the group endorse different justice principles for the same allocation event. 13. Intergroup Justice Conflict [cf. type 9] Two or more groups endorse different justice principles for the same allocation event. Conceptual Distributive Justice Conflicts Recall that a conceptual/potential distributive justice conflict was previously defined as a situation in which different and incompatible allocation principles or ‘subprinciples’ are perceived as equally just and legitimate for a particular resource allocation event. As a special case of this type of conflict we also include situations in which the goal of justice collides with other goals like efficiency, individual freedom, outcome favorability, etc. (see type 5 below).

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


1. Justice Principle Determinant Conflict occurs when two or more simultaneously salient determinants prescribe incompatible justice principles. It is reasonable to assume that the justice conceptions of most people are formed on the basis of individual as well as situational factors, and that the thrust of a given factor may frequently conflict with that of another factor within the same category or with that of a factor belonging to the other category. There is a scarcity of research identifying and analyzing (intrapersonal, interpersonal, or intergroup) conflict situations that may occur when two or more simultaneously relevant and salient, but incompatible, justice principle determinants are considered (juxtaposed). For instance, an allocation principle (e.g., equity) deemed just according to an ‘individual-motive’ determinant (e.g., self-interest) may be incompatible with a principle perceived just according to a ‘situational’ determinant (e.g., a caring-oriented group climate). Most studies focus on one determinant at a time, even though more complex situations are likely to be the rule rather than the exception in everyday life. Rather than attending to conflicts among two or more equally legitimate allocation principle determinants, most researchers appear to assume that one particular determinant is more powerful than others, in which case the choice of a justice principle is rendered less problematic. Lerner and Whitehead (1980, p. 232), for example, argued that ‘Although virtually all interactions involve the integration of both [the perceived] Relation [to the other] and [the task-relevant acquisition] Process, in any given encounter one or the other may predominate.’ But a more intriguing focus is on those instances when one or the other does not predominate. And what goes on before one determinant has assumed dominance over another. Surely, a more common situation is one of conflict and negotiations among competing requirements or claims, rather than one in which a single determinant is unequivocally predominant. Failing to account for simultaneously salient and relevant allocation-principle determinants, however, will result in missed opportunities to examine interesting issues pertaining to this kind of conflict. Existing research appears to have been guided by questions on a different and perhaps less complex level, e.g., ‘Under what conditions will a given principle be chosen over others?’ or, ‘What principle will be adopted, considered just, etc., when determinant X is predominant?’ Thus, questions like ‘Under what conditions will the influence of determinant X overpower others?’, and ‘How will conflict be resolved, if a compromise is not possible among opposing determinants?’ will not appear and will therefore remain irrelevant and unexplored. See T€ornblom (1988) for predictions based on an integrative model. 2. Justice Principle Conflict occurs when two or more ‘major’ justice principles are equally relevant in a situation, and the choice of one excludes the others. A fair amount of theoretical and empirical research has been conducted concerning this type of distributive justice conflict (see T€ ornblom, M€uhlhausen, & Jonsson, 1991, for reviews). 3. Justice Subprinciple Conflict occurs (a) when two or more justice subprinciples of one particular major justice principle are equally relevant in a situation, and the choice of one excludes the others (‘intra-major – subprinciple conflict’).


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

To illustrate this type of conflict, imagine a situation in which people view the allocation of some kind of resource, say respect, on the basis of the effort expended and on the basis of ability as equally just, and that they want both options to be available. These two subprinciples are, however, likely to be incompatible and viewed as just or unjust, depending on the recipient perspective. Which one of two persons is worthy of respect, if one is a highly able person expending low effort and the other put in a great amount of effort despite being on the low end of ability? Applying the contribution-of-effort principle will be seen as just and the contributionof-ability as unjust by the person high on effort, and vice versa by the person high on ability. As another example, although people may agree that equality is synonymous with justice, the application of one equality subprinciple, say equality-ofresults, will violate other equality subprinciples, e.g. the equality-of-opportunity subprinciple. And vice versa, an outcome allocation based on equality-of-opportunity will result in inequality-of-results and inequality-of-treatment (see T€ornblom, 1992, for some political implications of the ‘clash’ between these two subprinciples). Given the various possible ‘collisions’ between two subprinciples, we may be interested in knowing which is likely to be perceived as the most and the least adverse situation. It seems reasonable to suggest the use of ‘similarity’ as a criterion, on the basis of which a construction of rank orders among pairs of incompatible subprinciples may be established. We may characterize the above mentioned three contribution subprinciples on the basis of their similarity in terms of the achieved versus ascribed nature of the contribution (input) involved. The contribution-of-effort (Ce) and contribution-ofperformance (Cp) subprinciples are similar in that both call for achieved types of input, while the contribution-of-ability (Ca) subprinciple concern ascribed inputs and is, thus, dissimilar to the other two.1 Thus, on the basis of this distinction, and on the assumption that the more dissimilar or incompatible two relevant and competing subprinciples to guide resource allocation are, the more severe will a resulting conflict be. Thus, a situation in which the choice stands between Cp and Ca will be more conflictual than another, where either Cp or Ce is an alternative. In the first case the choice is between two very different subprinciples, one of which is achievement based and the other ascriptively based, while in the second situation the choice is between two achievement based subprinciples. Thus, we propose the following two hypotheses: Hypothesis 1: A conflict between the contribution-of-performance (Cp) and the contribution-of-ability (Ca) subprinciples will be perceived as more severe than a conflict between the contribution-of-performance (Cp) and the contributionof-effort (Ce) subprinciples. ½Cp  Ca conflict>Cp  Ce conflict


Ability is here conceived as a natural or innate talent or capacity beyond the individual’s control, thus an ascribed input. However, abilities such as writing skills, horseback riding and skating skills are acquired via training, practice, education, etc., and are therefore achieved.

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


Hypothesis 2: A conflict between the contribution-of-effort (Ce) and the contribution-of-ability (Ca) subprinciples will be perceived as more severe than a conflict between the contribution-of-effort (Ce) and the contribution-of-performance (Cp) subprinciples. ½Ce  Ca conflict>Ce  Cp conflict A different criterion for similarity has to be used to distinguish between the equality subprinciples, equality-of-opportunity (Eo), equality-of-treatment (Et), and equality-of-results (Er), namely similarity of ‘end result’. The Et and Er subprinciples are more similar to each other with regard to their likely end result than they are to the Eo subprinciple (the latter of which is random in character as no one can be sure of receiving outcomes at all). Again, on the basis of this distinction, and on the assumption that the more dissimilar or incompatible two relevant and competing subprinciples to guide resource allocation are, the more severe will a resulting conflict be. The following two hypotheses seem reasonable: Hypothesis 3: A conflict between the equality-of-treatment (Et) and the equality-of-opportunity (Eo) subprinciples will be perceived as more severe than a conflict between the equality-of-treatment (Et) and the equality-of-results (Er) subprinciples. ½Et  Eo conflict>Et  Er conflict Hypothesis 4: A conflict between the equality-of-results (Er) and the equalityof-opportunity (Eo) subprinciples will be perceived as more severe than a conflict between the equality-of-results (Er) and the equality-of-treatment (Et) subprinciples. ½Er  Eo conflict>Er  Et conflict Justice subprinciple conflict may also occur (b) when two or more justice subprinciples of different major justice principles are equally relevant in a situation, and the choice of one excludes the other (‘inter-major – subprinciple conflict’). Thus, this type of conflict situation is more complex than the one we just discussed, as both the major principles and the subprinciples differ between the two situations of each pair. For example, consider a conceptual justice conflict between Ca-Eo, between Cp-Et, and between Ce-Eo. The magnitudes of conflict resulting from the second and third conflicting pairs of contribution-equality subprinciples are likely to be perceived and experienced as considerably greater as compared to the first pair. The clash between the contribution and equality subprinciples in the second pair and in the third pair is more severe, at least intuitively, than the clash in first pair. The choice between receiving benefits (or burdens) according to one’s performance (Cp), or in an amount equal to all (Et) regardless of one’s performance or any other input criterion, may require a decision regarding internal or external locus of control as a cause of one’s reward – or punishment-relevant behavior. The same


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

holds true with regard to the choice between one’s effort and mere chance (e.g., a lottery). However, whether or not the contribution-of-ability (Ca) or the equalityof-opportunity (Eo) will be the guiding principle matters less, as the allocation outcome is likely to be relatively uncertain in both cases; both are pretty much beyond one’s control and likely to be viewed as about equally unjust. We now proceed to a discussion about what may happen when an ‘operating’ subprinciple is violated because another conflicting subprinciple is adopted in its place. 4. Violation of a Justice (Sub)Principle by Means of (an)other Conflicting Justice (Sub)Principle(s). (a) Inter-major inter-subprinciple violation. Perceived injustice may occur in several ways one of which is when, for some reason, an operating consensually agreed-upon justice principle is deliberately violated. Such a violation may be exemplified by organizational re-organizations. An industrial authority figure may be convinced that low productivity results from the existing egalitarian salary structure and decide to switch to an incentive system where wages are determined on the basis of a contribution principle, e.g. performance. As both allocation principles may be legitimized in terms of fairness, this situation may be conceived as one in which one operating justice principle is violated, the violation of which is justified via the application of another justice principle which replaces, conflicts with, and excludes the hitherto prevailing principle. Justice principle violation (or ‘change,’ to use a less provoking term) is indeed a common real life issue. When countries in the East (Baltic countries behind the iron curtain) changed their economic system from planned economy to market economy, from socialism to capitalism, during the 1990s, they changed the resource allocation principles to which people were accustomed. The communist system endorsed and championed a justice conception based on the slogan ‘from each according to ability, to each according to need,’ whereas a capitalist economic system tends to favor resource allocations according to the contributions (or, at best, according to some combination of two or more principles, e.g., equality of basic need fulfillment and on the basis of contributions above that level). (b) Intra-major inter-subprinciple violation. Equally likely is ‘intra-major justice principle violation, as exemplified by a change of what inputs are required to obtain outcomes according to a contribution subprinciple, i.e. intra-major intersubprinciple violation. Thus, this is a conflict where a subprinciple of a particular justice principle is violated by means of another subprinciple of that justice principle. It seems likely that certain intra-major principle violations would be perceived as less unjust than others. An intra-contribution-principle (i.e., contribution inter-subprinciple) violation is accomplished by changing the type (as opposed to the amount) of input required to obtain the outcome. For example, recipients who were used or promised to receive outcomes according to their efforts now receive them on the basis of their performances or abilities. Although some studies have examined the effect of justice principle violation upon justice perceptions, it seems none of them focused on other principles than equity. In addition, all of them were concerned with violation in the sense of

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


a change of the amount (rather than the kind) of input meriting a given outcome (Crosby & Franco, 2003; Folger, Rosenfield, & Robinson, 1983; Ployhart & Ryan, 1998; Vermunt, Wit, Van den Bos, & Lind, 1996). The changes made in those studies were not rule changes in the sense of a change from one distribution subprinciple to another, as the required type of input (i.e., performance) was not replaced by another type. Instead changes were made regarding the amount of input that merited a certain outcome. In order to generate hypotheses about intra-contribution-subprinciple violation (contribution inter-subprinciple violation), we assume (1) that people prefer similarity over dissimilarity, and (2) that, as previously mentioned, similarity between contribution subprinciples may be determined on the basis of the achieved versus ascribed nature of the input. Again, the achievement/ascription distinction between types of input allows a differentiation between the contribution subprinciples: effort (Ce) and performance (Cp) are similar in that both involve achieved input characteristics, while at least certain kinds of ability (Ca) are ascribed and, thus, dissimilar to effort and performance. Thus, the Ce and Cp subprinciples are more compatible with each other (and less conflicting) than Ce and Ca or Cp and Ca, respectively. Based on our earlier reasoning, it seems likely (3) that the violation of an achievement based subprinciple via another achievement based subprinciple will be more preferred, perceived as less unjust, and be less likely to result in conflict than a violation via an ascriptively based subprinciple, and vice versa. Further, assume (4) that injustice and intensity of conflict are positively related (see Box 3). Subsequently, the following hypotheses regarding (a) level of injustice and (b) conflict intensity may be generated: Hypothesis 5: Violation of the contribution-of-effort subprinciple via the contribution-of-ability subprinciple will (a) be perceived as more unjust and (b) result in more intense conflict than violation via the contribution-of-performance subprinciple. ½ðCe ! CaÞ>ðCe ! CpÞ Hypothesis 6: A violation of the contribution-of-performance subprinciple via the contribution-of-ability subprinciple will (a) be perceived as more unjust and (b) result in more intense conflict than violation via the contribution-of-effort subprinciple. ½ðCp ! CaÞ>ðCp ! CeÞ Hypothesis 7: A violation of the contribution-of-ability subprinciple via the contribution-of-effort subprinciple or via the contribution-of-performance subprinciple will (a) be perceived as equally unjust and (b) result in equally intense conflict. ½ðCa ! CeÞ ¼ ðCa ! CpÞ


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

Box 3: Violation of Contribution and Equality Subprinciples Contribution-of-effort (Ce) Equality-of-opportunity (Eo) Contribution-of-performance (Cp) Equality-of-treatment (Et) Contributions-of-ability (Ca) Equality-of-results (Er) Assumptions: (1) People prefer similarity over dissimilarity. (2) Similarity between equality (2) Similarity between contribution subprinciples may be determined on the subprinciples may be determined on the basis of their ‘end result’. The Et and Er basis of the achieved versus ascribed subprinciples are more similar to each nature of the input. The Ce and Cp other with regard to their likely end result subprinciples are similar in that both than they are to the Eo subprinciple (the concern achieved characteristics, while latter of which is random in character, so at least certain kinds of Ca are ascribed nobody can be sure of receiving any and, thus, dissimilar. outcomes at all). (3) Thus, the violation of an achievement (3) Thus, a violation of a subprinciple that based subprinciple via another results in a minor change of the total achievement based subprinciple will be amount of outcomes will be more more preferred and perceived as less preferred and perceived as less unjust unjust than a violation via an ascription than a violation that causes major based subprinciple, and vice versa. changes in end results, i.e., very dissimilar end results. (4) The degree of injustice and intensity of conflict is positively related.

Hypotheses may also be derived, in a similar manner as above, about intraequality-subprinciple violation (equality inter-subprinciple violation). Since contributions or inputs are irrelevant when resources are allocated according to the equality principle, the reader may recall that we used ‘end result’ as a criterion to determine similarity between the equality subprinciples. On that basis Et and Er subprinciples are more similar to each other than they are to the Eo subprinciple. Again assuming (1) that people prefer similarity over dissimilarity, (2) that similarity among the equality subprinciples may be determined on the basis of the end result of their application, and (3) that a violation of a subprinciple that results in a minor change in total amount of outcomes will be perceived as less just than a violation that causes major changes in end result, i.e. a very dissimilar end result. Adding the assumption (4) that injustice and intensity of conflict is positively related, the following hypotheses regarding (a) level of injustice and (b) conflict intensity seem reasonable: Hypothesis 8: A violation of the equality-of-opportunity subprinciple via the equality-of-treatment or via the equality-of-results subprinciple will (a) be perceived as equally unjust and (b) result in equally intense conflict. ½ðEo ! EtÞ ¼ ðEo ! ErÞ

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


Hypothesis 9: A violation of the equality-of-treatment subprinciple via the equality-of-opportunity subprinciple will (a) be perceived as more unjust and (b) result in more intense conflict than a violation via the equality-of-results subprinciple. ½ðEt ! EoÞ>ðEt ! ErÞ Hypothesis 10: A violation of the equality-of-results subprinciple via the equality-of-opportunity subprinciple will (a) be perceived as more unjust and (b) result in more intense conflict than a violation via the equality-of-treatment subprinciple. ½ðEr ! EoÞ>ðEr ! EtÞ These hypotheses are, of course, likely to be moderated by several factors, e.g. social relationship, institutional context, resource type, and resource scarcity. Thus, while the above hypotheses may have to be modified, a large number of additional hypotheses can be generated. For example, contrary to its great importance in a business context, performance is likely considered least important among the three contribution subprinciples within a family context. In a family, who you are (i.e., an ascribed characteristic) is usually more important than how you perform. Also, in a family it is likely that effort (often interpreted as a sign of good intentions) is more important than performance, i.e. the actual results (despite a poor outcome, s/he at least worked as hard as s/he could). If this is true, and as an example of how moderators may modify hypotheses, a violation of the contribution-of-effort subprinciple via the contribution-of-performance subprinciple will be perceived as more unjust in a family than in a business context. What about conflict between justice and other ‘goals’ or considerations? In addition to conflicts and incompatibilities among justice subprinciples, justice conflicts may also include conflicts and incompatibilities between justice and other considerations or goals. In some situations the accomplishment of justice makes the fulfillment of other goals impossible. Below follow some examples of this type of justice conflict. 5. Conflict Between Justice and Other Goals/Considerations (a) Justice – self-interest conflict (b) Self-justice – other-justice conflict (c) Justice – empathy conflict (d) Justice – efficiency conflict (e) Justice – outcome favorability conflict. (i) Unjust vs. favorable outcome (i.e., advantageous injustice) (ii) Unjust vs. unfavorable outcome (i.e., disadvantageous injustice) (iii) Just vs. unfavorable outcome (i.e., disadvantageous justice) (iv) Just vs. favorable outcome (i.e., advantageous justice)


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

Thus, the dual goal of accomplishing outcomes that are both just and favorable is only realized in (iv) but may fail in three ways (i–iii).

Social Distributive Justice Conflicts A social distributive justice conflict was previously defined as a situation in which two or more parties struggle against each other for (scarce) resources that each party feel entitled to, each party defining just entitlement in terms of the same allocation principle. 6. Perspective conflict may occur in the form of a (a) recipient – recipient conflict (inter-recipient conflict) when the resource allocator is a non-recipient. Cook and Hegtvedt (1983, p. 227) identified an important shortcoming with research on distributive justice: ‘. . . rule appropriateness is typically assessed only from the allocator’s viewpoint and not from the recipients’ perspective’. Whether or not this statement is still true, we would add that it is also necessary to make distinctions among different types within a specific perspective category, in this case the recipient category. One may, for example, distinguish between two types of recipients, those who are responsible and those who are non-responsible for praiseworthy or blameful conduct. Imagine that subsequent positive or negative outcomes (in the form of reward or punishment, respectively) are provided or imposed in equal amounts or kind on both recipients by a third party. From an equity theory point of view, for instance, a responsible and a non-responsible recipient are likely to view the situation very differently, and the reactions of the two recipients will vary with the valence of the outcome. Although only the responsible recipient has ‘earned’ the positive or negative outcomes, she still receives the same as the non-responsible recipient who, in turn, is provided undeserved outcomes. The responsible recipient is likely to feel unjustly treated, robbed of half of her rightfully deserved reward (unless the relationship between her and the other recipient is such that her welfare is of great concern). Being relieved of half of one’s punishment is favorably unjust and might be less upsetting (depending, again, on the nature of her relationship to the nonresponsible recipient). Considering the non-responsible recipient is ‘innocent,’ she is likely to resent being imposed unjust punishment. And she may react with embarrassment (or even satisfaction, if she is able and willing to redefine her lack of entitlement) concerning the inequitably advantageous reward. Now, consider two allocation principles, equality (E) and contribution (C), outcomes of positive (+) and negative () valence, and situations in which outcomes of both valences are allocated according to the two principles. This yields four possible combinations or patterns (see Box 4). Two pairs are consistent and denoted [E+ E] and [C+ C], the former meaning that the equality principle is applied for the allocation of both positive and negative outcomes (e.g., rewards and punishments), and that the contribution (equity) principle is applied for both. The other two patterns, [E+ C] and [C+ E], imply inconsistency in that different principles are applied for positively and negatively valent outcomes.

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


Box 4: Perspective Conflict Consistency Non-responsible Actor Responsible Actor










a i d i

d i a i

d j a j

a j d j

a i d i

a j d j

d j a j

d i a i

E, Equality principle C, Contribution principle +, Positive outcomes (goods) , Negative outcomes (bads) a, Advantage (favorable) d, Disadvantage (unfavorable) j, Justice i, Injustice

The consistent application of the equality principle for both positive and negative outcomes [E+ E] is both advantageous (favorable) and disadvantageous for a non-responsible recipient, advantageous (but unjust) in that s/he receives ‘undeserved’ positive outcomes, and disadvantageous (and unjust) in that s/he shares undeserved negative outcomes equally with the responsible recipient. A consistent application of the contribution principle [C+ C] is advantageous and disadvantageous in a directly opposite manner – disadvantageous (but just) because s/he does not receive undeserved positive outcomes, and advantageous (and just) in that s/he does not receive undeserved negative outcomes. Inconsistent applications of the two principles for positive and negative outcomes, i.e. [E+ C] and [C+ E], are maximally advantageous and maximally disadvantageous, respectively, for a nonresponsible individual. Sharing undeserved positive outcomes [E+] is advantageous (but unjust) and not receiving undeserved negative outcomes [C] is also advantageous (and just) for the non-responsible recipient. Missing out on undeserved positive outcomes is disadvantageous (but just), and sharing undeserved negative outcomes is also disadvantageous (and unjust). It is not difficult to see that the four patterns are advantageous and disadvantageous in directly opposite ways for the recipient who is responsible for the praiseworthy and blameful conduct (subsequent to which positive and negative outcomes are allocated). However, unless they define justice and injustice according to different principles, we assume (ceteris paribus) that the responsible and non-responsible recipients concur regarding their assessments of how (un)just each situation is. Some observations that can be made from Box 4 are worthy of special emphasis, as they may have important implications for the design of empirical research with a focus on the connection between recipient perspective and reactions to (in)justice and self-(dis)advantage [(un)favorability]:


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

1. Conflict between the non-responsible and responsible recipients always occurs with regard to their position on self-advantage. 2. Providing both recipients agree that the contribution principle represents justice, conflict never occurs with regard to their justice evaluation of the applied allocation principle. 3. Matching a recipient’s positive states of self-advantage and justice (i.e., a and j) appear in only four out of the eight situations. These are unlikely to result in intra-person conflict. 4. Matching a recipient’s negative states of self-advantage and justice (i.e., d and i) appear in only four out of the eight situations. These are also unlikely to result in intra-person conflict. 5. Intra-person conflict is likely to occur when the positions on self-advantage and justice do not match. This occurs in four situations for each recipient. The recipient will be motivated to change the negative component to a positive position (see the literature on status inconsistency and status crystallization for propositions and empirical research, e.g., Berger, Blackwell, Norman, & Smith, 1992; Geschwender, 1967; Lenski, 1954, 1956 – space does not allow elaboration here). 6. Interpersonal and intergroup conflicts are likely to occur in all situations, but only due to the two recipients’ opposite positions on self-advantage, as their positions on justice always match. Thus, care should be taken to make sure, in empirical studies, that the observed or manipulated conflict is not erroneously attributed to injustice when, in fact, other non-controlled factors (like selfadvantage, favorability) are the real causes. 7. Thus, if actors focus and compare themselves on the basis of both self-advantage and justice, conflict will always emerge, which is also likely if they only focus on self-advantage. However, no conflict is likely to occur on the basis of the described scenario if only justice is made salient. Clearly, the meaning and consequences of a particular application pattern may vary significantly as a function of the perspective from which it is viewed. Thus, the stage is set for conflicts between recipient categories, the intensity, consequences, and resolution of which will vary with the particular combination of principles that is applied for the allocation of positive and negative outcomes. Thus, not only should a distinction be made among perspective categories (e.g., allocator, recipient, observer), it is equally important to make distinctions within perspective categories, as we have just argued with regard to the recipient perspective category. Please note that the above scenarios are based on the premise that justice and self-advantage (or favorability) are equally weighty factors affecting recipients’ perceptions of the various situations as conflicting as well as their subsequent reactions to consistency and inconsistency between the justice principles that are applied for positive and negative outcome allocations. Another type of perspective conflict is (b) the non-recipient allocator – recipient conflict. This type of conflict has been the topic of a number of studies. Elliott and Meeker (1986) conducted a vignette study of non-recipient allocators’ preferences for outcome allocation to five group members subsequent to their contributions to

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


a joint effort. And Mikula and Korytko (1990) studied allocators’ responses when their recipients’ views of which principle represents distributive justice differed from their own. Mikula tested the general proposition that the resolution of conflicting views between a non-recipient allocator and the recipient will vary with the relevance and salience of recipient expectations for the application of the principle s/he considers appropriate or just – thus creating various levels of pressure on the allocator to deviate from his/her own preferred justice principle (in this case equality). (c) A third theoretically and empirically important type of conflict is when the allocator is also a recipient, i.e. recipient allocator – recipient conflict. Again, this type concerns the opposing interaction between two recipients, but in this case one of the recipients is also an allocator who decides what and how much of social resources she and the other recipient will be provided. It is a more complex kind of conflict as compared to the previously discussed recipient-recipient conflict (i). In this instance, the recipient-allocator will have to apply restraint to counteract her possible and biasing self-interest in addition to considering the relative and just levels of rewards and punishments for herself and the other recipient. The other recipient, in turn, will likely be less tolerant of an unfavorably unjust position, knowing that her contender (rather than a third party) is the cause. Finally, an interesting type of perspective conflict that is not uncommon in reallife situations is (d) the non-recipient allocator – non-recipient allocator conflict (inter-allocator conflict). We don’t know, at the present stage of our literature review, whether or not studies about this type of conflict have been conducted and framed as justice conflicts. This type of conflict is probably not unusual in families, for instance, where the parents (as two resource allocators) may disagree about the severity of punishment for a child’s disobedience, or about the size of their teenage daughter’s monthly allowance in comparison to what is reasonable for their pre-teenage son. Another example that easily comes to mind is in the context of salary determination in organizations. Within an academic setting the departmental Chair and the Dean might disagree about the salary they think is necessary in order to recruit a highly merited scientist. 7. Interpersonal justice conflict may occur when the allocation principle considered just for one individual is viewed as unjust for other individuals. It is not possible to go into detail on this topic as a considerable part of the research on distributive justice has been concerned with this type of distributive justice conflict. A meaningful review would require more space than allowed for this chapter. Fortunately several extensive reviews are available (Cook & Hegtvedt, 1983; Hegtvedt, 2005, 2006; Hegtvedt & Cook, 2001; Hegtvedt & Markovsky, 1995; Kazemi & T€ornblom, 2008; T€ ornblom, 1992; Tyler & Smith, 1998). 8. Individual-group justice conflict may occur when the allocation principle considered just for the individual is viewed as unjust for the group, or vice versa. This situation is typical for social dilemmas where individual interests are at odds with the welfare of a larger collective to which the individual belongs. An example from a real-life social dilemma may illustrate this type of conflict, namely income tax payment. Willingness to pay taxes is a distributive justice issue, as it concerns


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

how social resources like subsidies, education, Medicare, child care, etc. are allocated among citizens who have contributed unequal amounts of income tax to the system. Thus, the more you earn, the higher is your income tax. The individualgroup justice conflict may arise when taxpayers demand that services that are financed by tax revenues should be allocated in proportion to their tax payments (i.e., equitably), while the stipulations of the system are formulated in such a way that equity is not applied for all services that are provided by the government via tax revenues (Kazemi, 2009). For instance, from the individual taxpayer’s point of view, the length of the waiting lines for health care services should be proportional to their contributions (i.e., their tax burden), while the system is opposed to the contribution principle and consider it as unjust in this case. 9. Intergroup justice conflict may occur when the allocation principle considered just for one group is viewed as unjust for other groups. We may again use social dilemmas as an example of this kind of social justice conflict. Public goods are, per definition, ‘public’ in that nobody can be excluded from utilizing the good (e.g., Medicare). However, as Foddy (2005) argues, excluding or restricting people’s access to scarce public goods is very common practice. In other words, public goods are provided only for some ‘publics’ or ‘groups’ (usually one’s ingroup) that somehow qualify for benefiting from the public good. Thus, the ingroup may be granted equal access to the public good for its members, while outgroup members are required to fulfill certain conditions before they are allowed to share the public good. Thus, conflict may occur due to the incompatibility between two justice principles that both are considered applicable for shares of the same resource pool, equality for the ingroup and the contribution (equity) principle for the outgroup. For instance, native citizens may argue that all their compatriots should be provided with health care based on equality, while demanding additional qualifying criteria for foreign citizens over and above group membership (citizenship). The conflict arises when the foreign citizens demand the same rights as the native inhabitants to equal access to health care. We now turn to an attempt at combining types 8 and 9 into a typology that contain novel distinctions among group conflict situations. 10. Individual/group – intergroup justice conflict. When the state of justice is taken into account simultaneously on both the individual and the collective levels for each of two (or more) groups, a typology of intergroup conflict may be generated, hypotheses about conflict propensity and intensity may be advanced, and a new approach to research on intergroup conflict may emerge. The classic problem encountered when (scarce) resources are to be justly divided among members of a social system is threefold: how can a distribution be accomplished that (a) does not unjustly favor one particular group of people over other groups, (b) does not result in an unjust distribution within the group as a whole (across its members), and (c) does not treat each single individual unjustly? Failure to establish justice on any of the three levels may bring serious consequences for the individual, the relationship among group members, and the relationship between different groups. Unfortunately, justice is frequently absent on more than one level. It is not uncommon that injustice is inadvertently created on one level when justice

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


is established on another. Attempts to establish justice for the individual frequently runs into conflict with the struggle for collective justice, and vice versa. Justice on both levels is frequently experienced as incompatible, due to a presumed inherent conflict between the values of ‘individual liberty’ and ‘equality.’ Too much emphasis on one may restrict the other (Barker, 1951). ‘Just as principles of macro-justice place limits on what is under individual control . . ., principles of micro-justice place limits on what is under collective control’ (Brickman et al., 1981, p. 183). Although justice on one level must not be favored at the cost of the other (if a social system is to function satisfactorily) the balance between the individual and collective levels is frequently very unstable. There is a good amount of research concerning the consequences of inequity on the individual level, and the intragroup level. Early social psychological studies of injustice by Stacy Adams (1965), the father of equity theory, focused on reactions by (unfavorably or favorably) inequitably treated individuals in a work context. Existing research on reactions to inequity (i.e., violations of the contribution principle) usually did not focus interest on other justice principles like equality or need. Another research focus is concerned with the consequences of injustice on the intergroup level, i.e., how groups react when they are unfairly treated, or how individuals react when they are unfairly treated because of his/her membership of a particular group. Many of those studies are concerned with prejudice and discrimination and resulting types of violent behavior (e.g., riots, revolutions, and civil strife). This work, however, is usually not explicit about which justice principles were violated (see Davies, 1962; Gurr, 1970; Runciman, 1966). Injustice and conflict may occur on both the individual and collective levels, each of which may affect interpersonal relations within and between collectives (i.e., intra- and inter-collective relations). Thus, inquiry may be directed at six general relationships concerning how, why, where, and when Individual injustice affects intra-collective interaction and conflict Individual injustice affects inter-collective interaction and conflict Intra-collective injustice affects intra-collective interaction and conflict Intra-collective injustice affects inter-collective interaction and conflict Collective injustice affects intra-collective interaction and conflict, and Collective injustice affects inter-collective interaction and conflict On a more complex level, there is a paucity of theory and research that combines information about justice on both the individual and collective levels simultaneously, and how the resulting situations may affect intra- and inter-collective interaction. Therefore, we now focus attention on a combination between (2) and (6) into a seventh category that allows consideration of the combined and simultaneous effects of justice and/or injustice for the individual and the collective on inter-collective interaction and conflict, i.e., 7. How the combined effect of individual and collective injustice affects intercollective interaction and conflict

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi







IndividualIndividual, interpersonal, intergroup*







Category-Category Category-Group Category Group

Group-Group Intergroup

Fig. 2 Types of collectives. *What appears to be interpersonal (individual–individual) interaction may instead turn out to be intergroup (or inter-category) interaction. This is true when the individuals act in their capacity as representatives of their respective group (or category – as when a person act as a representative of their gender or ethnic belongingness)

A collective may be a group, an aggregate, a category, or any other type of collectivity, each of which may display different responses to injustice. Further, the nature and process of intra- and inter-collective conflicts is partly contingent on the nature of the interacting collectives (Fig. 2). Unfortunately, the term ‘group’ is often used indiscriminately by researchers and theorists to denote a variety of collectives. As ‘group’ is just one of several kinds of collectives, rather than the other way around, care should be taken to use appropriate terms (see Griffith et al., 1993), otherwise cumulative research will be difficult. Definitions of group usually include criteria like shared identity, goals, and norms, interrelated positions and roles, and a status structure. Most empirical studies have used other, less ‘developed,’ entities like aggregates or categories that lack several of those group characteristics. Thus, it makes little sense trying to integrate findings from studies of intergroup (i.e., group-group) conflict with results from group-aggregate conflict or aggregate-category conflict under the same headline of ‘intergroup conflict.’ We now describe two groups A and B as well their group members in terms of their just or unjust treatment and restrict our focus to disadvantageous (rather than advantageous) injustice, whether or not this results from the receipt of a too small (rather than a too large) amount of resources, from the use of an inappropriate allocation principle, or for any other reason. Considering justice (j) and injustice (i) on the individual and collective levels simultaneously, each group may be characterized in four ways – jj, ji, ij, and ii. A group described as ‘ji’ informs about justice on the individual level and (disadvantageous) injustice on the collective level. Thus, the two groups may be denoted ‘ji-ii’ which stands for justice on the individual level and injustice on the collective level for Group A, while both levels for Group B are characterized by injustice. Group B is, in other words, worse off than Group A due to its situation of injustice at both levels. As each group may

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework









jj-jj [= =]

jj-ji [= >]

jj-ij [> =]

jj-ii [> >]


ji-jj [= =]


ij-jj [< =]

ij-ji [< >]

ij-ij [= =]

ij-ii [= >]


ii-jj [< (ji  jj)>(ii  ji)>(ij  jj)>(ii  ii)>(ji  ji)>(ij  ij)>(jj  jj):


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

While this is a rather simplified and speculative model of ‘real life’ in need of empirical test and verification, it may provide a beginning for a deeper understanding of the nature of intergroup interaction and conflict and of how violations of justice expectations are likely to trigger intergroup conflict and affect conflict intensity. For instance, the case which may be the most likely to trigger intergroup conflict is when one group perceives injustice at both the individual and the group levels, while the second group experiences justice at both levels (because members of the first group get no satisfaction regarding justice at either of the two levels while observing the second group enjoying justice at both levels). Further, the nature of justice conflict will likely be affected by the particular justice (sub) principle and the type of resource in terms of which individuals and collectives are unjustly treated, as well as within which social context and relationship the conflict occurs. A deeper understanding of intergroup justice conflict also requires systematic research on the consequences of the various types of conflict distinguished by this model. Theoretically and practically interesting consequences include, for instance, those discussed by Reitz (1981) that concern: group cohesiveness, task orientation, leadership, organizational structure, unity, perceptions of opposing groups, selective perceptions, hostility and aggression.

Social-Conceptual Distributive Justice Conflict Recall that we defined a mixture of the above two types of conflict, a conceptualsocial distributive justice conflict, as two or more parties who struggle against each other for resources that each party feel entitled to, each party defining just entitlement in terms of different and incompatible allocation principles. Let us just mention three basic types which are slightly different from the social distributive justice conflict types 7, 8, and 9. The difference lies in the emphasis on the same principle for types 7–9 and different principles for types 11–13. We will not elaborate on these three in the following. 11. Interpersonal justice conflict [cf. type 7] Two or more individuals endorse different justice principles for the same allocation event. 12. Individual-group justice conflict [cf. type 8] The individual and the group endorse different justice principles for the same allocation event (see T€ ornblom, 1988, for reviews and a model encompassing different varieties of this type of conflict). An example from social dilemma research may serve as an illustration. One line of research in this field shows that the choice of allocation principle when a public good is to be divided is affected by the type of goal pursued by the actors. If the group’s primary interest is the welfare of the whole group, for instance, it is more likely to make an egalitarian or a needbased division. However, individual members (especially those who have made a greater than average effort) may be task orientated and focus on productivity according to which they want merit to be assessed, thus endorsing contributionbased (equitable) allocations (e.g., Kazemi & Eek, 2007, 2008).

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


13. Intergroup justice conflict [cf. type 9] Two or more groups endorse different justice principles for the same allocation event.

Some Concluding Remarks The exact meaning of ‘conflict’ is often taken more or less for granted in justice research. However, conflict is obviously a very complex concept with a multitude of meanings, some of which were made explicit here in this chapter. The lack of a clear conceptualization of the conflict construct makes theoretical developments difficult and renders comparisons of the results of different studies a risky business, thereby making accumulation of knowledge a cumbersome task. In our attempt to contribute to a remedy of this situation, we noted the conceptual and typological confusion existing in the conflict literature and offered a conceptual framework containing distinctions among various types of distributive justice conflicts. More specifically, five types of ‘conceptual,’ five types of ‘social,’ and three types of ‘conceptual-social’ distributive justice conflicts were delineated, several of them encompassing subtypes. In addition, these types of conflict involve different levels of analysis – intrapersonal, interpersonal, intra-group, and intergroup justice conflict. The theoretical implications of this chapter are hopefully quite evident. However, the practical implications of the proposed framework for the purpose of conflict resolution may be less obvious. Social actors enter into conflict resolution processes, each with his or her own interpretation of the problem, including what issues are in dispute, why the problem has arisen, and how best to resolve the conflict. The way in which a party to the conflict describes or defines a conflict is known as framing (Levin, Schneider, & Gaeth, 1998; Tversky & Kahneman, 1981; see also Gamliel & Peer, 2006, for a study on the effects of positive and negative framing on justice judgments). As the notion of justice is highly complex, whether or not a situation is just is not always self-evident, as the ‘justice tree’ (in Fig. 1) convincingly illustrates. Equity, equality and need principles can all be seen as just, not to mention that each may be interpreted and materialized in at least three ways. This complexity opens the door to several specific types of conflict, as we showed in some detail in previous sections. These different types of conflict will most likely require different conflict resolution strategies. Thus, efforts to resolve justice conflicts are likely to miss the target and be fruitless, unless the chosen strategies are carefully matched to the specific types of conflict at hand. The framework presented here coupled with the notion of framing may also make us more alert to the fact that, for instance, an intergroup distributive justice conflict may, at closer scrutiny, turn out to be an interpersonal conflict. Mistakenly perceiving an interpersonal justice conflict as an intergroup justice conflict may significantly worsen the situation and require very different strategies to accomplish successful resolution. Disagreements and hostility between a man and a woman is


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

often framed as a gender (inter)group conflict (or more correctly, an inter-category conflict, i.e., men vs. women). Similarly, conflicts between individuals of different color may too easily be framed as an inter-racial conflict (again, an inter-category conflict). Issues in connection with conflict resolution and framing bring our minds to the notion of perspective as a central aspect of justice conceptions, given that they are highly subjective in nature. A study by T€ ornblom et al. (1991), for example, explored the differences between recipient categories concerning their endorsement of the equality-of-treatment subprinciple for the allocation of positive and negative outcomes. Role-playing subjects were asked to make evaluations of how just, desirable, effective, and acceptable it is to be rewarded or punished according to the equality-of-treatment principle for positive and negative conduct that they or others were responsible for. Among the findings could be mentioned that 42% of the subjects who took the perspective of a responsible recipient, but only 25% of those who viewed the situation from a non-responsible recipient’s perspective, believed s/he would view equality-of-treatment as a just way of allocating both rewards and punishments. Without going into detail about the plausible reasons for this seemingly counter-intuitive finding or about other findings, the general outcome of this study underscore the importance of taking different actor perspectives into account. We are again reminded of the well-known but still in practice frequently neglected adage that ‘Justice is in the eye of the beholder’. In this chapter we have developed the concept of justice conflict with a sole focus on the distributive aspect of an allocation event. In addition to this aspect, allocation events also encompass other facets that are evaluated in terms of justice, i.e. procedural (the formal aspects of how allocation decisions are arrived at), interactional (the interpersonal aspect of the event), and informational justice (how outcome decisions are communicated, and how procedures are explained; see Greenberg, 1993). However, analyses of justice conflicts pertaining to those aspects will have to await future efforts. We believe that the present framework sheds new light on previous research, facilitates more precise and testable predictions for future research, provide practical implications for resolving conflicts, and may serve as a beginning of a proposal for a research program in this area. In conclusion, this chapter highlights several shortcomings of current conceptualizations and operationalizations of justice conflict, and provides some suggestions via the proposed framework for a more systematic approach.

References Adams, J. S. (1965). Inequity in social exchange. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 267–299). New York: Academic. Axt, H. J., Milososki, A., & Schwarz, O. (2006). Conflict – A literature review. Germany: Department of Social Sciences, Institute for Political Science, Universit€at Duisburg Essen. Barker, E. (1951). Principles of social and political theory. London: Oxford University Press.

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


Benn, S. I., & Peters, R. S. (1959). Social principles and the democratic state. London: George Allen & Unwin. Berger, J., Blackwell, J. W., Norman, R. Z., & Smith, R. F. (1992). Status inconsistency in task situations: A test of four status processing theories. American Sociological Review, 57, 843–855. Biddle, B. (1979). Role theory: Expectations, identities, and behaviors. New York: Academic Press. Brickman, P., Folger, R., Goode, E., & Schul, Y. (1981). Microjustice and macrojustice. In M. J. Lerner & S. C. Lerner (Eds.), The justice motive in social behavior (pp. 173–201). New York: Plenum. Cook, K. S., & Hegtvedt, K. A. (1983). Distributive justice, equity, and equality. Annual Review of Sociology, 9, 217–241. Coser, L. A. (1956). The functions of social conflict. New York: The Free Press. Crosby, F. J., & Franco, J. L. (2003). Connections between the ivory tower and the multicolored world: Linking abstract theories of social justice to the rough and tumble of affirmative action. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 7, 362–373. Davies, J. C. (1962). Toward a theory of revolution. American Sociological Review, 27, 5–19. Deutsch, M. (1973). The resolution of conflict: Constructive and destructive processes. New Haven: Yale University Press. Deutsch, M. (1985). Distributive justice. A social-psychological perspective. New Haven: Yale University Press. Diez, T., Stetter, S., & Albert, M. (2004). The European Union and the transformation of border conflicts: Theorising the impact of integration and association. EUBorderConf-Working Paper 1. Retrieved from http://www.liverpool.ac.uk/ewc/docs/Borders%20workshop/Papers%20for %20workshop/Diez%20070604%20-%20draft.pdf Dirks, K. T., & McLean Parks, J. (2003). Conflicting stories: The state of the science of conflict. In J. Greenberg (Ed.), Organizational behavior: The state of the science. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum. Donohue, W. A., & Kolt, R. (1992). Managing interpersonal conflict. Newbury Park: Sage. Elliott, G. C., & Meeker, B. F. (1986). Achieving fairness in the face of competing concerns: The different effects of individual and group characteristics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 754–760. Foddy, M. (2005). Exclusion and inclusion in social dilemmas: Who do you toss out of the lifeboat? Paper presented at the XI international conference on social dilemmas, Krakow, Poland. Folger, R., Rosenfield, D., & Robinson, T. (1983). Relative deprivation and procedural justifications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 172–184. Gamliel, E., & Peer, E. (2006). Positive versus negative framing affects justice judgments. Social Justice Research, 19, 307–322. Geschwender, J. (1967). Continuities in the study of status consistency and cognitive dissonance. Social Forces, 46, 160–171. Greenberg, J. (1993). The social side of fairness: Interpersonal and informational classes of organizational justice. In R. Cropanzano (Ed.), Justice in the workplace: Approaching fairness in human resource management. Hillsdale: Erlbaum. Griffith, W. I., Parker, M. J., & T€ ornblom, K. Y. (1993). Putting the group back into intergroup justice studies. Social Justice Research, 6, 331–342. Gurr, T. R. (1970). Why men rebel. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Hegtvedt, K. A. (2005). Doing justice to the group: Examining the roles of the group in justice research. Annual Review of Sociology, 31, 25–45. Hegtvedt, K. A. (2006). Justice frameworks. In P. Burke (Ed.), Contemporary social psychological theories (pp. 46–69). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Hegtvedt, K. A., & Cook, K. S. (2001). Distributive justice: Recent theoretical developments and applications. In J. Sanders & V. L. Hamilton (Eds.), Handbook of justice research in law (pp. 93–132). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Press.


K. T€ornblom and A. Kazemi

Hegtvedt, K. A., & Markovsky, B. (1995). Justice and injustice. In K. S. Cook, A. Fine, & J. House (Eds.), Sociological perspectives on social psychology (pp. 257–280). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Kazemi, A. (2007). Distributive and procedural fairness promote cooperative conflict management. In K. T€ornblom & R. Vermunt (Eds.), Distributive and procedural justice: Research and social applications (pp. 143–157). Hampshire: Ashgate. Kazemi, A. (2009). There is more to fairness in taxation than fair taxes: Introducing a multifaceted fairness framework of taxation. In S. Jern & J. N€aslund (Eds.), Dynamics within and outside the lab (pp. 147–158). Lund: Lund University Press. Kazemi, A., & Eek, D. (2007). Effects of group goal and resource valence on allocation preferences in public good dilemmas. Social Behavior and Personality, 35, 803–818. Kazemi, A., & Eek, D. (2008). Promoting cooperation in social dilemmas via fairness norms and group goals. In A. Biel, D. Eek, T. G€arling, & M. Gustafsson (Eds.), New issues and paradigms in research on social dilemmas (pp. 72–92). New York: Springer. Kazemi, A., & T€ornblom, K. (2008). Social psychology of justice: Origins, central issues, recent developments, and future directions. Nordic Psychology, 60, 209–234. Lawler, E. J., & Ford, R. (1995). Bargaining and influence in conflict situations. In K. S. Cook, G. A. Fine, & J. S. House (Eds.), Sociological perspectives on social psychology (pp. 236–256). Boston: Allyn Bacon. Lenski, G. (1954). Status crystallisation: A non-vertical dimension of social status. American Sociological Review, 19, 405–414. Lenski, G. (1956). Social participation status crystallization. American Sociological Review, 21, 458–464. Lerner, M. J., & Whitehead, L. A. (1980). Procedural justice viewed in the context of motive theory. In G. Mikula (Ed.), Contemporary topics in social psychology (pp. 219–256). New York: Springer. Levin, I. P., Schneider, S. L., & Gaeth, G. J. (1998). All frames are not created equal: A typology and critical analysis of framing effects. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 76, 149–188. Lewin, K. (1948). Resolving social conflicts. Selected papers in group dynamics. New York: Harper. Mack, R. W., & Snyder, R. C. (1957). The analysis of social conflict – Toward an overview and synthesis. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 1, 212–248. Messick, D. M., & Sentis, K. P. (1983). Fairness, preference, and fairness biases. In D. M. Messick & K. S. Cook (Eds.), Equity theory: Psychological and sociological perspectives (pp. 61–94). New York: Praeger. Mikula, G., & Korytko, E. (1990). Just as you like it: How allocators decide in cases of conflict between own and recipients’ views of justice. Social Justice Research, 4, 133–151. Mikula, G., & Wenzel, M. (2000). Justice and social conflict. International Journal of Psychology, 35, 126–135. Montada, L. (2007). Justice conflicts and the justice of conflict resolution. In K. Y. T€ornblom & R. Vermunt (Eds.), Distributive and procedural justice: Research and social applications. Hampshire: Ashgate. Moore, C. W. (1996). The mediation process: Practical strategies for resolving conflict (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Olsen, M. E. (1978). The process of social organization. Power in social systems (2nd ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Pfetsch, F. R. (1994). Internationale Politik. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Ployhart, R. E., & Ryan, A. M. (1998). Applicants’ reactions to the fairness of selection procedures: The effects of positive rule violations and time of measurement. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 3–16. Ramsbotham, O., Woodhouse, T., & Miall, H. (2005). Contemporary conflict resolution: The prevention, management and transformation of deadly conflicts. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Advances in Justice Conflict Conceptualization: A New Integrative Framework


Reis, H. T. (1984). The multidimensionality of justice. In R. Folger (Ed.), The sense of injustice: Social psychological perspectives. New York: Plenum Press. Reitz, H. J. (1981). Behavior in organizations. Homewood: Richard D. Irwin. Rescher, N. (1966). Distributive justice: A constructive critique of the utilitarian theory of distribution. New York: Bobbs-Merrill. Rubin, J. Z., Pruitt, D. G., & Kim, S. H. (1994). Social conflict: Escalation, stalemate, and settlement (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. Runciman, W. G. (1966). Relative deprivation and social justice: A study of attitudes to social inequality in twentieth-century England. Berkeley: University of California Press. T€ ornblom, K. Y. (1977a). Distributive justice: Typology and propositions. Human Relations, 30, 1–24. T€ ornblom, K. Y. (1977b). Magnitude and source of compensation in two situations of distributive injustice. Acta Sociologica, 20, 75–95. T€ ornblom, K. Y. (1982). Reversal in preference responses to two types of injustice situations: A methodological contribution to equity theory. Human Relations, 35, 991–1014. T€ ornblom, K. Y. (1988). Positive and negative allocations: A typology and a model for conflicting justice principles. In E. Lawler & B. Markovsky (Eds.), Advances in group processes (Vol. 5, pp. 141–168). Greenwich: JAI Press. T€ ornblom, K. Y. (1992). The social psychology of distributive justice. In K. R. Scherer (Ed.), Justice: Interdisciplinary perspectives (pp. 177–284). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. T€ ornblom, K. Y. (1995). Individual and collective justice and injustice: Implications for intergroup conflict. Social Justice Research, 8, 91–101. T€ ornblom, K. Y., & Jonsson, D. R. (1985). Subrules of the equality and contribution principles: Their perceived fairness in distribution and retribution. Social Psychology Quarterly, 48, 249–261. T€ ornblom, K. Y., M€ uhlhausen, S. M., & Jonsson, D. R. (1991). The allocation of positive and negative outcomes: When is the equality principle fair for both? In R. Vermunt & H. Steensma (Eds.), Social justice in human relations, societal and psychological origins of justice (Vol. 1). New York: Plenum Press. Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1981). The framing of decisions and the psychology of choice. Science, 211, 453–458. Tyler, T. R., & Smith, H. J. (1998). Social justice and social movements. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 595–629). Boston: McGraw-Hill. Vermunt, R., Wit, A., Van den Bos, K., & Lind, E. A. (1996). The effects of unfair procedure on negative affect and protest. Social Justice Research, 9, 109–119. Weber, M. (1947). The theory of social and economic organization. New York: The Free Press. Wilmot, W. W., & Hocker, J. L. (1998). Interpersonal conflict. New York: McGraw-Hill.


Absence and Presence: Interpreting Moral Exclusion in the Jewish Museum Berlin Susan Opotow

Abstract This chapter describes research conducted in a museum that interprets injustice that occurred more than seven decades ago. From the vantage of the present, it looks back on the Third Reich, a period when the National Socialist Party (“Nazis”) gained adherents, power, and sought to exterminate Jews and other groups they denigrated as “life unworthy of life” (lebensunwertes Leben). Combining psychological theory with historical background, this chapter examines how museum professionals present this period that legitimated and then carried out a genocide of enormous proportions, The Holocaust. By examining how the Jewish Museum Berlin describes the Third Reich to the public, this chapter offers insight into representations of moral exclusion to engage museum visitors in reflecting on past injustice within their society. The museum’s approach offers scholars of injustice an understanding of the representation of moral exclusion designed to reach people in the present so that they can better understand the past, the dynamics of moral exclusion, and its import for present social relations.

Exclusion from the Scope of Justice The scope of justice is our psychological boundary for the application of fairness in social relations (Deutsch, 1975; Opotow, 1990). Moral exclusion describes the narrowing of the scope of justice so that those excluded seem morally unworthy, undeserving, and therefore exploitable and eligible as targets of harm. Moral inclusion, in contrast, describes the widening of the scope of justice so that fairness is extended more broadly to groups that were formerly marginalized. To investigate the scope of justice and study factors that change it, I developed a Scope of Justice

S. Opotow (*) John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY, USA e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_3, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



S. Opotow

scale consisting of three attitudes: (Opotow, 1987, 1993): (1) the belief that considerations of fairness apply to others; (2) the willingness to allocate a share of community resources to others; and (3) the willingness to make sacrifices to foster others’ well-being. The Scope of Justice Scale operationalizes fairness (cf. Rawls, 1971) and what follows from it – respect, deserving, rights, and entitlements (Opotow, 1990). Consistent with Fineberg’s (1970) assertion that rightholders can exercise rights by asserting claims as well as by surrendering them to others, moral inclusion can be operationalized by acknowledging others’ entitlement to fairness, well-being, and access to societal resources, and acting on their behalf even when it requires some sacrifices by oneself to do so. The scope of justice scale can indicate partial, conditional, and unequivocal moral inclusion (Opotow, 1995), but uniformly negative loadings on the scale’s three variables indicate that a target is morally excluded. Moral exclusion is operationalized as an indifference or opposition to the processes, distributions, and policies that would support another’s well-being. This includes an unwillingness to consider fairness or allocate resources for others, creating and intensifying durable between group disparities in security, safety, and power. Because moral exclusion is consistent with an unwillingness to incur individual or collective costs or make sacrifices that would foster anothers’ wellbeing, it typically characterizes a socio-political context in which inequality, lack of concern or protection for others, and ungenerosity prevail. Exclusion from the scope of justice can be legitimized by derogating those excluded as inferior, pathological, criminal, or evil (Opotow, 2001). Moral exclusion is a societal-level as well as an individual-level construct. Based on shared social conventions, rationalizations, and justifications that render harmdoing acceptable, moral exclusion can be difficult to detect. It is evident in symptoms that include denial, victim blaming, unflattering and self-righteous comparisons, condescension, and double standards (Opotow, 1990; Opotow & Weiss, 2000). A person’s scope of justice emerges from beliefs and attitudes that are, in part, derived from prevailing views in a society about entitlement, deserving, and fairness. The scope of justice, then, is not entirely an individual or conscious construct. But even when it is neither obvious nor conscious, the scope of justice can influence social relations; normalize particular attitudes and actions toward others; justify harm directed at excluded social categories; and see such harm as normal, inevitable, and the way things are or ought to be (Opotow 1987, 1990, 2011). Because moral exclusion naturalizes contemporary forms of injustice, it is easier to recognize long ago and far away than in the present, when psychological mechanisms, such as denial (Opotow & Weiss 2000) and societal structures can conceal and normalize it. This chapter describes moral exclusion in the past as it is viewed from the present. Situated in an historical museum, The Jewish Museum Berlin, that, in part, addresses past social injustice, it examines how museum professionals represent past moral exclusion and harmdoing by their own country to the public. The museum is situated within Germany, a country that supported a genocide of immense proportions during World War II. Examining past moral exclusion in

Absence and Presence: Interpreting Moral Exclusion in the Jewish Museum Berlin


the Jewish Museum Berlin allows the study of: (1) the operationalization of moral exclusion by the Third Reich; (2) the presentation of past moral exclusion to the public; and (3) how moral exclusion and moral inclusion are presented within the same institution. This study on the practice of describing injustice contributes data to the psychological study of injustice. It offers insight into how people come to understand past injustice fostered by moral exclusion and the implications of this past for contemporary social relations.

Researching Injustice in Museums In the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, social psychological research was conducted in a variety of congregate settings, including schools, camps, hospitals, camps, and universities (Opotow & Gieseking, 2011). Like these sites, which serve as background as well as foreground for researching social issues, museums are rich sites for psychological research on human behavior and social relationships. Called “technologies of classification” (Macdonald, 1996), museums contribute to a society’s quest for order and boundaries. They – employ physical objects in their constitution of culture, [and] are unusually capable among institutions of turning culture into an object: of materializing it. They have played a role not just in displaying the world, but in structuring a modern way of seeing and comprehending the world “as if it were an exhibit.” (Macdonald, 1996, p. 7)

Like museums, psychology depends on systems of classification, evident in the systematicity of its methods for collecting and analyzing data to develop theory. Both historical museums and psychology focus on the human experience. Psychological research examines how antecedent factors at the person and environment levels give rise to human behavior (Lewin, 1943). Historical museums concern past experience at individual and societal levels. They display materials (i.e., objects, documents, etc.) that connect with individuals’ memories; they sample and disturb collective memories that have been shared, passed down, and constructed and reconstructed by groups over time (Halbwachs, 1950/1992). Through the use of material to create exhibitions, museums describe human experiences in ways that can shape contemporary understandings of the past and the present. Interpretive strategies are decisions that museum professionals make when they select material to engage visitors’ interest in and promote their understanding of a topic. They are also educational approaches for gallery tours that guide visitors through exhibitions about the past. Interpretive strategies are decisions that theorize the relationship between particular material and how it will be received and understood by visitors. Museum professionals select materials, cognizant of their potential when grouped with other material, to generate understanding. The effectiveness of interpretive strategies depends on translating material into comprehension (cf. Macdonald, 1996) as well as bridging two distinct times and cultures, the past and the present. Professionals’ expertise about visual, written, spoken, and


S. Opotow

experiential communicative practice can inform psychological theories on the process of reshaping people’s justice perceptions. Museums’ interpretive strategies, therefore, are interventions with the potential to change people’s understanding that can widen the scope of justice. Interpretive strategies at the Jewish Museum Berlin educate visitors, Berlin, the nation, and the world about the Jewish presence in Berlin and Germany in the two millennia before World War II. This chapter on the museum and its permanent collection describes the presentation and communication of injustice in the Jewish past in Germany, particularly during the Third Reich (1933–1945). It results from several visits to the museum and informative interviews with two key members of museum’s senior staff, Ms. Maren Kr€ uger, Academic Leader of the Permanent Exhibition, and Mrs. Tanja Petersen, Head of the Educational Department. Both are experts who have developed interpretive strategies of the Jewish Museum Berlin.

The Jewish Presence in Berlin Berlin was a small garrison city that “expanded exponentially in the nineteenth century and started to acquire representative cultural institutions: museums, concert halls, opera houses” (Gay, 1998, p. 13). Around 1900, Berlin began to overshadow Munich culturally and became the envy of other German cities. Berlin has been noted for its residents’ blunt, cynical humor and its democratic deflation of pretention. Berlin’s characteristic speech, Gay (1998) reports, was quite antiauthoritarian; deflating in its harsh and terse accents, it came naturally to working-class Berliners and was affected by sophisticates who thought linguistic slumming chic. . . Berlin was the kind of city on which travel writers and visiting journalists inevitably bestowed the epithet “vibrant.” This vitality drew heavily on its diverse population, doubtless one reason why Jews felt so much at home there. In 1933, more than 150,000 of them, some 30% of the Jews in Germany, lived there. (p. 14).

Berlin’s Jews, Gay describes, “helped to shape its culture, far out of proportion to their numbers, as scientists, historians, poets, musicians, editors, critics, lawyers, physicians, and as art dealers, munificent collectors, and donors to museums” (p. 15). At present, Berlin is credited with having a “vitality unmatched among European cities: It’s now arguably the Continent’s capital of cool” (Hammer, 2009). When the National Socialists came to power, they found Berlin, its famed culture, irreverence, and vivacity a hard nut to crack, even when Goebbels was put in charge of winning it over to the “movement.” The city’s culture had contributed impressively to what was anathema to the Nazis and their supporters: modernist experimentation with its unconventional theatres, avant-garde novelists and publishers, adventurous newspapers and critics. (Gay, 1998, p. 15)

Absence and Presence: Interpreting Moral Exclusion in the Jewish Museum Berlin


Jewish Life from the Seventeenth Century to World War I The Jewish presence in Berlin increased steadily after 1671 when the Great Elector Friedrich Wilhelm allowed Jews from Vienna to take refuge and settle in Berlin and Brandenburg (Nachama, Schoeps, & Simon 2002). In 1871, when Germany was unified as a nation 7%, of Jews in Germany lived in Berlin. In 1910, before World War I, this percentage increased to 23%. In 1933, at the end of the Weimar Republic as the National Socialists came to power, one third of Germany’s Jews lived in Berlin (Brenner, 2002). Berlin’s Jewish population in 1933 was 160,564, 3.8% of Berlin’s total (Simon, 2002). The Emancipation Edict of 1812 promised an end to discrimination (Sch€utz, 2002) by limiting economic and social restrictions on Jews, but anti-Semitism remained an influential dynamic. Anti-Jewish stirrings and uprisings in 1819 were partly the result of an economic downturn and partly a backlash to the Edict (Levinger, 2000). In the middle of the nineteenth century, Jews in Berlin increasingly assimilated and became influential in German culture and society (Schoeps, 2002). From 1850 to 1917 constitutional revisions increased Jews’ rights, but this period was also characterized by anti-Semitism. In 1879, a prominent tract, “The Jewish Question in Germany” by historian Heinrich von Treitschke gave rise to the “Berlin Anti-Semitism Dispute” (Berlin Antisemitismusstreit). The tract and a notorious sentence within it, “Jews are our misfortune,” (Sch€utz, 2002, p. 110) legitimized anti-Semitic attitudes, speech, and action. Such attitudes and events, which continued throughout in the nineteenth century, anticipated later National Socialist racial doctrines (Levinger, 2000).

Post World War I and the Rise of National Socialism (“Nazis”) In 1919 at the beginning of the Weimar Republic (1919–1933), half of Jewish breadwinners were independently employed. The well-being of Jews and their participation in civic life eroded precipitously as National Socialists gained power from 1925 to1933. Independent employment declined to 23% in this period, resulting in a “proletarianization of Jews” (Brenner, 2002, p. 151). As unemployment increased so did suicide rates among Berlin’s Jews. In 1927, 117 of 100,000 Jews were suicides, double the number from 3 years before. Brenner blames these suicides on the deepening economic crisis and ever-increasing anti-Semitism, observing that a smaller percentage of Protestants and Catholics committed suicide during this period. Jews were increasingly excluded from the social and economic sphere. Many Jews had attended German schools and participated in German societies and clubs, but as discrimination and unemployment increased, Jews founded civic organizations, and sport clubs. It founded schools for its youth because of the unfriendly climate created for Jews by the German youth movement, fraternities, and student organizations (Brenner, 2002). Thus, Jews engaged in


S. Opotow

“building while sinking” (Simon, 2002, p. 187) as the diffuse exclusion of Jews from social institutions within Germany proceeded relentlessly. When Adolf Hitler assumed power on January 30, 1933, one-third of Berlin’s 500,000 German-Jewish population – who considered themselves German as much as Jewish – left Berlin. Six years later, in January 1939, when World War II began, the remaining Jewish population had been reduced by half as Jews emigrated to flee the increasing discrimination, threats, and abuse that had become endemic in the Third Reich. In addition to emigration and suicides, the Jewish population was reduced by disappearances and murders that were the forerunner of an even greater destruction that would engulf Germany’s Jews and the 4–5 and half million Jews living in countries soon to be overrun by the German Blitzkrieg [“lightening war”] (Gross, 1982). By 1941 half the Jews remaining in Germany were congregated in Berlin, largely because local actions had ousted them from smaller communities (Gross, 1982). By 1943 Berlin was declared judenrein (German, “clean of Jews”) signaling the final squeezing of Jews out of the body politic. At the end of World War II in 1945, only 5,100 Jews remained (Simon, 2002). The Holocaust had obliterated Jewish life in Berlin, Germany, and Europe. At present, Germany has a rising Jewish population with estimated 20,000 Jews in Berlin in 2010 (Shyovitz, 2010), a city of 3.5 million people, and 200,000 Jews in Germany, a country of 82 million (Smee, 2006).

Jewish Museums At the turn of the century Jewish museums were founded in Hamburg and Vienna. Berlin, a latecomer, founded its first Jewish museum in 1917 when an art collection donated by Berlin’s Jewish community opened to the public. The museum’s collection moved to its own venue and opened to the public on January 24, 1933 a week before a massive National Socialist torchlight parade on January 30th celebrating Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor of Germany (Gross, 1982). In spite of National Socialist opposition, the Jewish Museum mounted several exhibitions of Jewish artists over the next few years. Beginning in 1933, National Socialist laws and decrees forbade Jews from holding public office; practicing in law or medicine; owning businesses; owning radios; changing residences; having pets; obtaining ration cards for food; having rights to protection in German courts of law; enrolling in the university; attending sports events, concerts, museum; and much more (Simon, 2002). Such laws only allowed Jews to visit the Jewish Museum or exhibit in it (Young, 2000). National Socialists then took over the museum and used it exhibit what they labeled “degenerate art,” a National Socialist term describing virtually all modern art. Rudy Koshar (2000) observes that Although the Nazis aimed to eradicate Jewish culture from Germany and Europe, they had a “museal” attachment to some of the remains of this culture. Himmler had indeed drawn up plans for SS-run museums that would display the artifacts of an all but extinct Jewish life in Europe. (p. 126)

Absence and Presence: Interpreting Moral Exclusion in the Jewish Museum Berlin


On November 9, 1938, a violent anti-Semitic pogrom, Kristallnacht (“The Reich Night of Broken Glass”), murdered hundreds of Jews and plundered and destroyed the museum along with innumerable Jewish community institutions, synagogues, businesses, and homes. Nachama et al. (2002) argue Kristallnacht marked the end of Jewish life and culture in Berlin and signaled a break with the past. After Kristallnacht, it is not possible to speak of continuity between the Jewish past in Berlin, which was obliterated, and Jewish life today. Decades after World War II, Berlin’s Jewish culture was only a “topic of remembrance” (Nachama et al., 2002, p. 8). More than 40 years after the war, in 1988, an exhibition on Jewish life in Berlin opened on Kurf€urstendamm, a main, commercial West Berlin street. The exhibit, entitled “As If It Had Never Been,” was mounted by the Berlin History Workshop. The design of this exhibition sought to “enable people imaginatively to reconstruct lost connections and relationships” (Koshar, 2000, p. 252) that had resulted from the National Socialist eradication of the Jewish presence and culture in Germany. It described Jews as an integral part of Berlin’s history and culture and asked Germans to “look at what remained, or what could be imagined, of a culture that in its time was much more than the product of its victims” (Koshar, 2000, p. 255). Like the Jewish Museum Berlin that would open 13 years later in a unified Germany, this exhibit focused on “‘concrete knowledge’ of Jewish culture in German history” (p. 255, emphasis in original). Recognition of the void left in Germany by the obliteration of Jews and Jewish culture has been given voice in many ways over the past half century. For example, Gay describes a void in acknowledging of the loss of Jewish life he experienced when he returned to visit Berlin in 1961: “Wherever we went there were Germans: driving their cars, walking their dogs, lounging in cafes, waiting on customers. And they were all speaking German, as though nothing had happened” (p. 6). In 1965, Willy Brandt, an influential politician and mayor of West Berlin, spoke at the New School in New York and with his characteristic bluntness, stated: “We miss our Jews” (Gay, 1998, p. 14). The Berlin History Workshop’s 1988 exhibit addressed the Jewish void and, more recently, the Jewish Museum Berlin addressed this void in its architecture and subject matter, bringing remembrance of Jewish cultural life back to Berlin in a prominent civic institution.

Jewish Museum Berlin Jewish Museum Berlin opened in 2001 with audacious architecture, a comprehensive exhibit on 2,000 years of the Jewish presence in Berlin, and temporary exhibits on Jewish life (Jewish Museum Berlin, 2001). It was designed to “tell the story of German Jewry in all its dimensions” (Museum Berlin Director Michael Blumenthal, quoted in Jewish Museum Berlin, 2001, p. 16), to have broad appeal and “make a decisive contribution to our historical consciousness, our responsibility as a nation, and Germany’s cultural landscape” (German State Minister Julian


S. Opotow

Nida-R€umelin, quoted in Jewish Museum Berlin, 2001, p. 13). It was designed to be “a museum for everyone: young and old, German and non-German, Jewish and non-Jewish,” (Michael Blumenthal, quoted in Jewish Museum Berlin, 2001, p. 17). Most visitors to the museum are German, and although they may live in neighborhoods that were formerly Jewish, or in homes or apartments once occupied by Jews, or purchase goods from businesses founded and once operated by Jews, or visit cultural institutions which Jews founded and played an influential role, they may have little knowledge about Jews or their role in Berlin’s past. My research on moral exclusion is attentive to the museum’s treatment of the exclusion of Jews from German society, particularly from 1933 to 1945. As Museum Director Michael Blumenthal describes: In depicting the ups and downs of the relationship between Jews and non-Jews in Germany, the museum illustrates what becomes possible when religious, cultural, and ethic minorities are able to contribute their unique talents to national life – and how terrible the consequences for all can be when intolerance and prejudice prevail. (Jewish Museum Berlin, 2001, p. 16).

I will argue that the museum implicitly and explicitly focuses on moral exclusion and moral inclusion. For example, Director Michael Blumenthal delineates inclusionary goals when he states that the museum symbolizes “a widely shared determination to confront the past and to apply its lessons to societal problems of today and tomorrow. . . [and] the universal challenge of promoting tolerance toward minorities in a globalized world and to their integration into national life” Jewish Museum Berlin, (2001, p. 16).

Buildings The Jewish Museum Berlin has two distinct architectural parts. One is the old museum, the Baroque Kollegienhaus, a traditional building with a rectangular shape that houses the museum’s security, admissions, coat check, cafe´, bookstore, and an information desk, and larger temporary exhibitions. A second building, selected in a 1994 architectural competition, is designed by Daniel Libeskind and is structured by two lines: “one is a straight line, but broken into many fragments, the other is a tortuous line, but continuing indefinitely” (Jewish Museum Berlin, 2001, p. 178). This design, called “Between the Lines,” yields disorienting space, sharp angles, and six tall voids. Nothing is displayed in the voids, and they challenge the visitor to grapple with empty space and the loss they symbolize: The Jewish Museum is conceived as an emblem in which the invisible and visible are the structural feature which have been gathered in this space of Berlin and laid bare in an architecture where the unnamed remains the name which keeps still. (Libeskind, quoted in Schneider, 2007)

This statement captures an evocative and ghostly quality that is evident in photographs of the empty museum (e.g., Bunschoten & Binet, 1997; Libeskind, 1999). When opened to the public in 1998, still empty of its contents and 3 years

Absence and Presence: Interpreting Moral Exclusion in the Jewish Museum Berlin


ahead of the museum’s completion, the museum drew 350,000 visitors yearly to see the interior of this architecturally innovative structure. Libeskind’s architecture, now a prominent and celebrated Berlin landmark, creates space that engages and disorients visitors. Schneider (2007) describes how “people of all ages, walks of life and cultural backgrounds appear to experience the drama and emotional force of this extraordinary spatial configuration immediately and intuitively” (p. 58). Libeskind (1999) emphasizes the building’s connection to the museum’s mission: I erected the museum in response to a very specific program. I was commissioned to build a museum which deals with the fundamental question of Jewish participation in the history of Berlin. The museum was to allow for the exploration of the history dimension of Jews in Berlin and the consideration of what this means today in a world that has changed so much. (p. 31)

Visitors enter Libeskind’s structure from the Kollegienhaus. They descend a passageway into a basement and encounter a stark, bright, disorienting space that seems removed from the outside world. This section, “the axes,” includes the Axis of Continuity, the Axis of Exile, and the Axis of the Holocaust. It lacks familiar right angles, both horizontally and vertically, creating an off-kilter visual and spatial experience. Mrs. Tanja Petersen, head of the Education Department, describes how visitors might experience this section of the museum: “the sub-level is narrow and uneven. It is a kind of interaction, a kind of break to make visitors think that something is different here.” The Axis of the Holocaust includes the Holocaust Tower with five walls of different dimensions that rise to full height of the building. The tower, shut off from the axes by a heavy door that closes behind the visitor, is neither heated nor airconditioned. It is dark, unfamiliar spatially, and, except for a slit of natural light high up on one wall, sealed off. The tower can elicit psychological discomfort and, perhaps, a search for the demand characteristics of this context (cf. Sampson, 1998). It might cause visitors to consider an analogous experience in the past, when some people might have been cut off from anything comforting or familiar. Physically, the tower embodies both exclusion and incarceration – exclusion from the museum proper yet confined within it, and a removal from a sense of personal control, from more ordinary spaces we inhabit, and from ordinary contact with people.

Axes Exhibitions In addition to its dramatic spaces, the axes offer visitors their first exhibition experience in the museum. This section of the museum could have provided a historical overview of Jewish life in Berlin or an introduction to the larger museum, but instead it begins with a limited number of small exhibitions in vitrines (glass showcases) set within the angled walls of the axes. These vitrines are spare and focus on a particular object or a related set of objects donated to the museum.


S. Opotow

Memories connected with the object are displayed along with, for example, a toy, a painting, or a set of dishes that reflect on the social condition of Jews in Berlin during the Holocaust. Mrs. Maren Kr€ uger, Curator of the Permanent Exhibition, observes that the “combination of the architecture and the stories told in the showcases. . . goes together so closely,” and research indicates that visitors react to it well. Donations from survivors and relatives of people who experienced National Socialism in Berlin include precious personal material: letters, photographs, and household items. These donations are the largest source of the museum’s collection. Mrs. Kr€uger describes the role of the axes exhibition in the interpretive strategy of the museum. There we show only objects, like documents, photographs, three dimensional objects – mementos which are related to a story of a family or an individual and the murder of people related to them during the Holocaust. For example, objects like last letters, which were written before deportation, were kept by friends or family members who received them many years ago. These people gave them and donated them to the Jewish Museum. Objects like what we are showing at the moment, for example, a little toy, a little small toy ape. It was the toy of a boy who left Germany without his parents. He immigrated to Sweden with the children’s transport by himself when he was 15 years old. He could only take very few things with him. This toy was one of the objects. His parents stayed in Berlin and were murdered. This toy, together with a few other things he had from Berlin, was very important to him as a memento of his childhood in Germany. He donated it to the museum.

Objects such as the ape were precious to individuals as evidence of their own life history and its challenges. The objects represent comfort, connection, trauma, and change. “At a certain point,” Mrs. Kr€ uger explained, “they give them to the museum to share these memories with a wider public.” She designates material donated and exhibited in this section as “objects of memory.” The vitrine with the little toy she described displays only two objects – the small ape (perhaps 4–5 in. tall) on the right side of the case and a creased and partlyblackened letter on the left (see Photo 1). Entitled “My dear boy!” the wall text in front of the vitrine states: In 1939, 15 year old Gert Berliner went to Sweden on a children’s transport. In his luggage was his stuffed monkey. Gert’s parents, Paul and Sophie Berliner, remained in Berlin, and in 1943 they were departed to Auschwitz and murdered there. In November 1941, Paul and Sophie wrote this letter to their son. Parts of it were censored – probably because they alluded to the deportations that had just begun. “I cannot write much [censored] terrible conditions I am. Daddy told you about the details. As long as we’re here we’ll continue to write [censored] Chin up. With God’s help we’ll be reunited.” In 1947 Gert Berliner emigrated from Sweden to the USA where he became a painter, filmmaker and photographer. Gift of Gert Berliner

With minimal material – the toy ape, the letter, and a very brief account of Gert Berliner’s life – this display tells a powerful story about 8 years in one family’s life from the perspective of the mother and her son. Mrs. Kr€uger explained that the museum values objects such as the ape because they speak to visitors. They are

Absence and Presence: Interpreting Moral Exclusion in the Jewish Museum Berlin


Photo 1 “My dear boy!” Axis display at the Jewish Museum Berlin (Photo: Author)

familiar – many people have beloved childhood toys – and they therefore attract visitor interest. The museum values such objects in concert with the memories and stories connected with them rather than the object in isolation. Without such information, she said, it is just an ape. The museum’s interpretive strategy, therefore, begins with donors willing to give personal and precious objects to the museum so that it become part of a public institution and larger project. The museum receives donations with as much information as possible to reveal the story of the object: to whom did it belong, who took it into exile, who received it from them and safeguarded it. This elucidates the object’s meaning historically and personally. The museum’s collection of such objects is much smaller than Jewish museums throughout the Jewish diaspora, and as Mrs. Petersen, notes, “there is a story of why we don’t have it.” Through the rotating micro-exhibitions in the axes that depend on objects in the museum’s collection, visitors can grasp the macro socio-political circumstances lived by individuals and their families. These objects sample the history of Jews in Germany. They prompt a psychological connection between those who survived and those who did not through narrative and visual accounts that resonate with visitors’ lives today.

Gallery Tours Mrs. Petersen describes the education department’s interpretive strategy when leading school and other groups through the axes. She asks: “What kind of object attracts you?” The discussions that ensue interrogate the meaning an object can


S. Opotow

have in a person’s life and identity. She describes a museum visitor who asked about a walking stick in one of the vitrines: One of the students asked me once “Why did they take that?” I said that all the things that are here were taken by the family on their way from Germany to South America. They had to flee because they were Jewish. Then first of all they say “I can’t tell that they are Jewish. I can’t see it . . . It [an object] must have something to do with ‘Jewishness.’” Visitors ask, “Did they take – whatever-it-is – with them?” I say “Do you have something favorite, like a hobby or sport or something?” They say “Yeah, well, I am into football.” I say “A-ha. Can you imagine when you leave this town or this land? And, of course, you have to separate that you are not being forced to leave; today you do it voluntarily and so you have to be aware of the perspectives and the necessities that were important to those families.” Then he said, “Well, when I would leave somewhere for a year of course I would take this American football with me.” I said, “Maybe now you can explain to me and to the others why you think they took all these things with them.” . . . I go further and ask them so if the whole world around you is full of discrimination and injustice and increasing, when is the breaking point that you decide that enough is enough and you have to leave family, job, home. So this is a point of no return. It is a very, very individual point and it depends on the one hand on the pressure, the very personal feeling and periods of injustice and discrimination. Then you have to go further and say that in most of the cases the families fled or left the country or have been forced to leave the country when the men were put into concentration camps in 1938 and told “OK. We’ll let you go when you can prove to us that you can leave the country.”

She describes how visitors look for “Jewishness” in everyday objects such as the walking stick or a cup. The meaning of being Jewish, however, could not be found in these objects as they have recreational or utilitarian rather than religious value. This indicates to visitors that Jews were not distinctive in their preferences for sports, for example. The “Jewishness” of objects displayed can only be found in the socio-political context in which the walking-stick and its owner were embedded that pressured Jews to leave their home and country. The Jewish Museum Berlin’s interpretive strategy asks visitors to place themselves in the situation of Jewish people under National Socialism to understand what they might have experienced that influenced their decision to leave. Mrs. Petersen cautions that such decisions – when a family fled or what they took with them – cannot be judged by us today as right or wrong: It is not for us to judge. It is not for the Jewish Museum to say this is right and this is wrong but it is a very, very individual decision which depends on personal experiences, personal circumstances, and the circumstances of the state.

Decisions, she emphasizes, are influenced by an individual’s particular circumstances that include “neighbors, relatives, friends, all these things; money, financial background for instance; and disease, illness, those who had a sick grandpa at home, for example.” Objects in the exhibition evoke some of these difficult decisions – to stay or leave – place them within the socio-political circumstances in Germany’s National Socialist past that morally excluded people because of their group identity. Using familiar objects displayed as way to enter and imagine this past enables visitors to understand the demands and experience of moral exclusion and what ensued from it – emigration or deportation.

Absence and Presence: Interpreting Moral Exclusion in the Jewish Museum Berlin


The Permanent Exhibition: Two Millennia of German-Jewish History Visitors leave the axes and ascend an expansive staircase spanning the length of the Libeskind wing. Emerging at the top, they enter an exhibition area that narrates German-Jewish history and culture over two millennia. As visitors navigate through 14 historical periods beginning in the Middle Ages, the architecture presents a number of challenges. Although the space for the permanent exhibition is less dramatically askew than in the axes, the walls are irregular, angled, and sometimes blocked by ascending voids. In this extensive exhibition, several areas bear on moral exclusion and inclusion.

Anti-Semitism Within the permanent exhibition is a thin, narrow line of seemingly-endless wall text consisting of linked anti-Semitic statements in German and English (see Photo 2). A few examples include: “They are nowaday vampires of society” stated by Immanuel Kant in 1798; “Croak, Jew, Croak,” a slogan during anti-Jewish rioting throughout Germany in 1819; “The power of money lies in the hands of the Jews” in 1838; “The Jew does not work and does better than we do. Away with the vermin,” stated in 1848; and a statement decrying “the Jew-ification of modern art” by Richard Wagner in 1850. These statements document the enduring and damaging rhetoric of exclusion and hate.

Photo 2 Display on the 1965 Frankfurt-Auschwitz trials at the Jewish Museum Berlin with the documentary, Memorandum (1965, National Film Board of Canada) (Photo: Author)


S. Opotow

Mrs. Kr€uger links these anti-Semitic statements to an adjacent audio exhibition on equal rights: We hope that it’s possible to connect what we show in the museum to things that people are confronted with in their daily lives today. . . In the part of the exhibition with the antiSemitic quotes on the wall, there is a table at the beginning of the segment; the subject is emancipation in the nineteenth century. It is an audio station. We offer text on questions that were discussed in the nineteenth century like: Can a Jew be a German? Can a Jew have an office in a state institution in Germany? These questions were widely discussed during the process of giving Jews equal rights during the nineteenth century. . . The same questions are relevant today concerning people who were not born in Germany, whose parents migrated to Germany years ago, who live here, and who have the same problems that were discussed then. For example, “Can somebody be really German who came to Germany as a child with their parents from Turkey?” and these sort of things. How far does the assimilation of these groups have to go so that we can accept them as equal in our society? Of course, that is what we hope for – that people are aware of developments today which are related to German-Jewish history.

She expresses hope that these sections of the exhibition can “make visitors aware of the dangers that exist when different cultures or groups of people live together and how minorities have been treated and are treated today.” The exhibit Mrs. Kr€ uger describes, “The Emancipation of the Jews,” presents visitors with six questions that were debated from 1801 to 1912: • • • • • •

Should a Jew be granted the same rights as Christians? Can a Jew be a German? Are the Jews ready for emancipation? Should Jews be allowed to freely choose where they reside? Can a Jew hold public office? Is the emancipation of the Jews damaging to German society?

These are timeless questions about moral inclusion that emerge in periods when the scope of justice is changing and has the potential to widen to expand the applicability of rights, deserving, and entitlement to marginalized groups. Although these question concern anti-Semitic mores and laws in nineteenth century Germany, they are relevant (with proper nouns replaced, such as “Muslim” for “Jew”) in contemporary controversies in Germany and elsewhere that debate the inclusion of marginalized groups.

The 1965 Frankfurt-Auschwitz Trials A section of the permanent exhibition concerns the Frankfurt-Auschwitz Trials (der zweite Auschwitz-Prozess) which took place from 1963 to 1965. Twenty-two defendants, mid- to lower-level officials in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death and concentration camp complex, stood trial under German penal law because of their roles in the Holocaust. This exhibition displays documents and photographs from the trials, including its trial verdict. It also includes an excerpt from a National Film

Absence and Presence: Interpreting Moral Exclusion in the Jewish Museum Berlin


Photo 3 Anti-semitic text, Jewish Museum Berlin (Photo: Author)

Board of Canada documentary, Memorandum (Brittain & Spotten, 1965; see http:// onf-nfb.gc.ca/eng/collection/film/?id¼10552). In it, defendants leave police vehicles to enter a courtroom (see Photo 3). Subtitles in the film identify each defendant. As they move from the police van to the courtroom, some defendants cover their faces; others, as they pass the videographer, throw objects and reach forward to punch the camera or the person behind it. This video clip is disturbing because it documents explicit acts of evasion and violence displayed by men charged with cruelty and mass murder. These defendants were, in 1965, some of the living remnants of Germany’s state-sponsored moral exclusion and violence. This trial was largely public and brought details of the Holocaust to the attention of people in the Federal Republic of Germany two decades after World War II, a period when public discussion about the war had been quiescent. Six defendants received life sentences; several others received the maximum prison sentences possible for charges brought against them. Mrs. Petersen describes interpreting this exhibition to visitors: In this installation, people usually come from here. These are benches to sit on. All your stations are here, and you can listen to the witnesses of the Auschwitz trial. Right here you can see some documentation and here in this corner is a short Canadian movie that shows the accused coming into the courts. We show it to visitors on guided tours (some guides do it). It is very, very interesting after you talk about National Socialism. Then you go to the question of guilt and responsibility. . . When we show them the movie we ask “Why do they [the defendants] act that aggressively?” We explain that Mr. So-and-so was accused of killing 3,000 or murdered so many people and so on and so on and then ask them, “What do you think? How should he or she be punished?”. . . Everybody usually says he should be punished to death, and this would be the minimum punishment, death. He got 5 years or 8 years. The feeling that stays, the feeling of the visitors, is that this is a big injustice. They would shout it out.


S. Opotow

This exhibition reveals the dramatic shift in the scope of justice from the early 1940s when the National Socialists were in power to the 1960s when some were tried for war crimes. Mrs. Petersen explains that moral issues in this exhibit connect with current controversy about guilt, punishment, and responsibility that had occurred recently with the release of Christian Klar of the Red Army Faction from prison in January 2009, a few weeks before. Mrs. Petersen also connected the issues of guilt and responsibility in this exhibit to Darfur: “What about genocide today?” she asks, cautioning that this is a very sensitive question; “you have to be very, very careful [and it] depends on how much time you have and how educated your group is.” In 2007, the Jewish Museum Berlin featured a Darfur Week inspired by a 2006 Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC exhibit, “Darfur/Darfur.” Mrs. Petersen describes the interpretive strategy for the Jewish Museum Berlin exhibition on contemporary large-scale, identity-based violence: We had a big installation of pictures that you can see from outside, just passing on the street, and we had a small exhibition on drawings of children of the Darfur region. We showed the drawings to [visitor groups] and gave them input on the political background, which is not easy. We explained different points of view [and asked] “Is it a genocide, yes or no?” “What is the definition of a genocide?” Then we asked them, “From the perspective of children, what would you suggest? How would you argue, what would you want from our government? Should they invest, yes or no?” They discussed it and we had more than 300 postcards which were written to the high politicians of Sudan.

By evoking parallels between moral exclusion and violence in the past and present, the Darfur exhibit asked visitors to apply their knowledge about the Holocaust and its violent consequences to contemporary intolerance, conflict, and injustice in the world.

Touch Screen on National Socialism Mrs. Petersen often asks visitors if they have seen the touch screen on National Socialism. This bilingual screen, situated at the end of the gallery tour, is a way for visitors to test their knowledge about National Socialist persecution. The Jewish persecution was supported by more than 2,000 laws – such as no pets, no telephones – that restricted the everyday life of Jews: You touch a button and a questionnaire comes up. The questions include: “How do you come to work? Do you own a bicycle? Do you own a pet?” . . .By pushing the buttons you will get all the laws that are restricting the lives of Jews in Germany. . . Jews are not allowed to own pets anymore because, by starting the deportations, the pets are starving and the Germans had a big, big spot for the pets but not for the Jews. How ironic is that?

She asks school age visitors: “What would it be like if they could no longer attend school?” They say – “Oh, this is great! This is what I wished for my entire school time!” But then you say, “What does it mean? The state restricts any possibility for the future for this generation [of Jews]. There is no future for this generation. This is the result.”

Absence and Presence: Interpreting Moral Exclusion in the Jewish Museum Berlin


In this brief exchange we see how the interpretative strategy of the Jewish Museum Berlin evoke past injustice at the micro level (a student who was no longer permitted to attend German school) and the larger macro environment (exclusion of Jews from societal resources) while connecting the past (what happened during the Third Reich) and at present (contemporary students’ attitudes toward school). These contrasts – micro and macro, past and present – offer visitors an understanding of the dynamics and effects of moral exclusion.

Longer Interpretive Programs Mrs. Petersen notes that the museum possesses objects associated with personal narratives that can deepen visitors’ understanding of the socio-political context of the past and its influence on people then. The museum also reaches the public through longer interpretive programs developed by the museum’s education department, some for students and some for adults. These educational programs are designed for engagement and active, discovery learning (forschendes Lernen). A half day program, “Forced into Exile,” uses improvisational theater. Participants assume a role in a decisional dilemma such as: “Do I leave my family back here and try to save my own life” or “Do I risk my and others’ lives?” “How important are my own feelings of injustice compared to the misfortunes of other people who were thrown out of their job?” The workshops are designed for participants without deep historical knowledge to help them reflect on and learn about situations in the past utilizing their own life experiences to foster understanding. In a 1 day workshop for intact classes in the museum archives, students led by a staff member work with original materials. Donning gloves to handle historic objects and conduct research, they work on a range of topic such as migration to Shanghai or how Jewish students fared after their 1938 expulsion from German schools. From documents, photographs, letters, and objects (e.g., a saxophone or a puppet taken to Shanghai), students learn about particular individuals and their lives. A museum donor who has given the museum relevant material may visit the students to give a talk or answer questions. The hands-on experience and contact with donors can be a rich experience because it builds upon information students have acquired, based on their own research, the day before. A 2 day program, designed for teachers and social workers includes a training and role play session to learn about anti-Semitism and how to combat it. A 1-week program connected with a temporary exhibition in 2009, “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race” was designed for students who are 15 years and older and for medical professionals, including nurses and people working with care of the elderly. In sum, visitors to the Jewish Berlin Museum consider the Holocaust in a variety of ways. First, the Libeskind wing is an architectural landmark in the city that memorializes the historical Jewish presence in Berlin. Second, the axes and the tower of the Holocaust operate as interior memorial space. Third, the vitrines exhibit ordinary objects within hybrid space that creates an interaction among


S. Opotow

exhibition material, architecture, and memory. Fourth, the permanent exhibition narrates Jewish life and accomplishments before 1933 and the subsequent disruption and obliteration of Jewish life. Finally, the longer programs provide a laboratory for working, doing, learning in a group to stimulate learning and a commitment to the issues under study. Together, the museum offers visitors a complex experience designed to reach a wide variety of people of all ages and varied ethnic, geographic, and religious backgrounds.

Discussion The Jewish Museum Berlin delineates the history of Jews in Germany over the past 2,000 years while it memorializes their exclusion, exile, and murder. It sits in the breach between a lost past and the present. The obliteration of Jewish life in Germany began with the ascent of the National Socialists to power, forcefully signified by Kristallnacht (1938), when physical manifestations of the Jewish presence and culture in Berlin were attacked and destroyed. The destruction of communities and people on a vast scale followed in a period characterized by a pathologically narrow scope of justice operationalized in discriminatory values, restrictive laws, and exclusionary changes in all spheres of society. This study describes the role of the museum in communicating this violent and unjust past to the public. Its exhibitions probe shifts in inclusionary and exclusionary periods and engage visitors with practical and moral questions about rights, deserving, and fairness. The complex Jewish past in Germany can be understood through the expanding and narrowing of the scope of justice. Experts at the Jewish Museum Berlin have assembled material to consider complex, difficult, and deeply moral questions. They design exhibitions that engage, provoke, disturb, sadden, concern, and inspire. These exhibitions implicitly delineate a scope of justice in past times using evidence that make prevailing exclusionary attitudes, behavior, and outcomes evident and directs visitors’ attention to ways that moral exclusion influenced actions and policies in the past. This approach depends on contrasts with a wider scope of justice today (Opotow, 2011) and can foster insight into contemporary social issues in which exclusionary practices are normalized and diffused throughout society (cf. Fine & Ruglis, 2009). The Jewish Museum project intends its exhibitions on past injustice to foster moral inclusion, as Mrs. Kr€ uger expressed, “we hope that it’s possible to connect what we show in the museum to things that people are confronted with in their daily lives today.” C. Wright Mills (1959) argues that the study of social life must include biography, history, and their intersections within a society. Consistent with that, the Jewish Museum Berlin’s objects of memory attend to individual lives as well as to socio-political change. Their exhibitions emphasize how German-Jewish adults and children were challenged and engulfed by an increasingly violent and exclusionary socio-political context. By presenting this past so that its dynamics and

Absence and Presence: Interpreting Moral Exclusion in the Jewish Museum Berlin


effects can be grasped by people in the present, the museum conveys the complexity, tensions, and challenges of life during the Third Reich in nuanced ways. It offers evidence of the micro processes and technicalities of moral exclusion in the rules, laws, and policies enacted to inflict damage in multiple spheres of society. These societal changes, intended to harm people the Third Reich designated as unworthy of life, included forbidding employment, concert-going, and school attendance. Materials exhibited also delineate the operationalization of moral exclusion through its stages – forced emigration, ghetto-ization, deportation, and annihilation. Such museum exhibitions allow people who did not experience the cultural vitality of Berlin before World War II or the extraordinary violence of the Third Reich to enter a past period that is difficult to fully grasp. While it is ordinarily difficult to fully understand a socio-political period other than one’s own, the Third Reich is especially difficult because it was characterized by dispossession and exclusion in all spheres of society on a mass scale. Indeed, how is it possible to fully comprehend that more than six million individuals were irretrievably lost and countless more lives were indelibly changed? The exhibitions do this by engaging visitors, one person and one dilemma at a time, inviting visitors to enter this period through lives of people in the past. This learning is partly cognitive – concepts and facts about the period – but it is also emotional and visceral as visitors enter disorienting spaces within the museum and consider disturbing information (cf. Sampson, 1998). The museum’s attention to past injustice resonates with social justice research in psychology. Both concern identity, group-based stereotypes and discrimination, individual and collective memory, the embodiment of experience, social conflict and societal change, morals and responsibility, and the normalization of injustice. Like such venues as the workplace, schools, health settings, and the criminal justice system, this research project suggests the importance of museums as sites for psychological research. Mieke Bal (1999) has argued that traumatic events in the past have a persistent presence. The Holocaust produced deep and lasting loss of people and communities destroyed through forced removals, disappearances, mass murder, bombs, and obliterated records. Years later, museums gather up materials and memories they can that delineate events in particular places and times, but these material and memories also have universal meaning and speak to people today. Thus, museums have the capacity to restore as well as reshape individual and collective memories (cf. Halbwachs, 1950/1992) and are therefore sites of recovery and contact zones (Pratt, 1991) in which the past and the present interact. Because museums have the unusual capability to travel across time and space, they are important sites to examine complex social and psychological processes that unfold over time. Historical museums are a community resource and require a substantial public commitment to function and thrive. They therefore represent an inclusionary commitment to examine an unjust past and serve as a form of redress. Traces of history visitors find offer evidence of moral exclusion that can speak to their present lives and stimulate discussion on complex and avoided social issues that can go


S. Opotow

back years, decades, or even centuries (cf. Apfelbaum, 1979). By examining the experience and socio-political dynamics of moral exclusion and injustice, museums reshape collective memories and national identity. In his book, Commemorations, John Gillis (1994) stated that “identities and memories are not things we think about, but things we think with” (p. 5). Inclusionary change takes a long time. The commitment to commemorate the Holocaust did not emerge immediately after World War II in Germany but has deepened over time. Therefore in the psychological study of human relations historicity is important. What came before can help us understand socio-political contexts in which we now live as all social relations play out within the prevailing scope of justice of the time. For this reason, justice research on factors fostering harmonious intergroup relations or a more inclusive society can gain perspective by taking history into account.

Conclusion From 1933 to 1945 Germany’s National Socialist Party anti-Semitic socio-political agenda sought to exterminate all Jews. The Jewish Museum Berlin, with its spectacular presence, brings evidence, artifacts, and voices of the past back to Berlin to teach people today about moral exclusion and its catastrophic outcomes for those excluded and for the larger society. The museum is not only commemorative but also symbolizes the return of Jewish culture to Berlin. It is designed to describe the Jewish past, dynamics and effects of moral exclusion, and relationship of the Holocaust to contemporary social relations, particularly in contexts in which marginalization and injustice prevail. It exemplifies how cultural institutions can address an unjust past as well as educate people to appreciate and include the presence, perspectives, and contributions of minorities to the larger society. Acknowledgements I thank the Jewish Museum Berlin and Ms. Maren Kr€uger, Academic Leader of the Permanent Exhibition Mrs. Tanja Petersen, Head of the Educational Department, and Mr. Helmuth F. Braun, Head of the Temporary Exhibitions Department, for their kind and valuable assistance with this research. I thank Elisabeth Kals, J€urgen Maes, and Michelle Fine, wonderful justice researchers and colleagues, for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. Any errors of fact or interpretation in this text are my own. Support for this project was provided by a PSC-CUNY Award, jointly funded by The Professional Staff Congress and The City University of New York.

References Apfelbaum, E. (1979). Relations of domination and movements of liberation: An analysis of power between groups. In W. Austin & S. Worchel (Eds.), The social psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 188–204). Monterey: Cole.

Absence and Presence: Interpreting Moral Exclusion in the Jewish Museum Berlin


Bal, M. (1999). Introduction. In M. Bal, J. Crewe, & L. Spitzer (Eds.), Acts of memory: Cultural recall in the present (pp. vii–xvi). Hanover: Dartmouth. Brenner, M. (2002). The Weimar years (1919–1932) (M. S. Cullen & A. Brown, Trans.). In A. Nachama, J. H. Schoeps & H. Simon (Eds.), Jews in Berlin (pp. 137–179). Berlin: Henschel. Brittain, D., Spotten, J. (Producers and directors). (1965). Memorandum [film]. Ottawa: National Film Board of Canada. Bunschoten, R., & Binet, H. (1997). A passage through silence and light: Daniel Libeskind’s extension to the Berlin museum. London: Black Dog. Deutsch, M. (1975). Equity, equality, and need: What determines which value will be used as the basis of distributive justice? Journal of Social Issues, 31(3), 137–149. Fine, M., & Ruglis, J. (2009). Circuits and consequences of dispossession: The racialized realignment of the public sphere for U.S. youth. Transforming Anthropology, 17(1), 20–33. Fineberg, J. (1970). The nature and value of rights. Journal of Value Inquiry, 4, 243–257. Gay, P. (1998). My German question: Growing up in Nazi Berlin. New Haven: Yale University Press. Gillis, J. R. (1994). Introduction. In J. R. Gillis (Ed.), Commemorations: The politics of national memory (pp. 3–24). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Gross, L. (1982). The last Jews in Berlin. New York: Simon and Schuster. Halbwachs, M. (1950/1992). On collective memory. (Ed., Trans., and with an introduction by L. A. Coser). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Hammer, J. (2009, October 17). A night to remember (cover story). Forbes, pp. 108–113. Retrieved March14, 2011, from EBSCO/host/. Jewish Museum Berlin. (2001). Stories of an exhibition: Two millennia of German Jewish history. Berlin: Jewish Museum Berlin. Koshar, R. (2000). From monuments to traces: Artifacts of German memory, 1870–1990. Berkeley: University of California Press. Levinger, M. (2000). Enlightened nationalism: The transformation of Prussian political culture, 1805–1848. Oxford/New York: Oxford. Lewin, K. (1943). Defining the “field” at a given time. Psychological Review, 50(3), 292–310. Libeskind, D. (1999). Jewish Museum Berlin/Architect Daniel Libeskind (with a photo essay by He´le`ne Binet). Basel: G+B Arts International. Macdonald, S. (1996). Introduction. In S. Macdonald & G. Fyfe (Eds.), Theorizing museums: Representing identity and diversity in a changing world (pp. 1–18). Cambridge: Blackwell. Mills, C. W. (1959). The sociological imagination. London: Oxford University Press. Nachama, A., Schoeps, J. H., & Simon, H. (2002). Preface. (J. S. Cullen & A. Brown, Trans.). In A. Nachama, J. H. Schoeps, & H. Simon. Jews in Berlin (pp. 7–8). Berlin: Henschel. Opotow, S. (1987). Limits of fairness: An experimental examination of antecedents of the scope of justice. Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, New York, NY. Retrieved August 16, 2010, from Dissertations & Theses @ Columbia University (Publication No. AAT 8724072). Opotow, S. (1990). Moral exclusion and injustice: An overview. Journal of Social Issues, 46(1), 1–20. Opotow, S. (1993). Animals and the scope of justice. Journal of Social Issues, 49(1), 71–85. Opotow, S. (1995). Drawing the line: Social categorization, moral exclusion, and the scope of justice. In B. B. Bunker & J. Z. Rubin (Eds.), Conflict, cooperation, and justice (pp. 347–369). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Opotow, S. (2001). Social injustice. In D. J. Christie, R. V. Wagner, & D. D. Winter (Eds.), Peace, conflict and violence: Peace psychology for the 21st century (pp. 102–109). New York: Prentice-Hall. Opotow, S. (2011). How this was possible: Interpreting the Holocaust. Journal of Social Issues, 67 (1), 205–224. Opotow, S., & Gieseking, J. (2011). Foreground and background: Environment a site and social issue. Journal of Social Issues, 67(1), 179–196.


S. Opotow

Opotow, S., & McClelland, S. I. (2007). The intensification of hating: A theory. Social Justice Research, 20(1), 68–97. Opotow, S., & Weiss, L. (2000). Denial and exclusion in environmental conflict. Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), 475–490. Pratt, M. L. (1991). Arts of the contact zone. Profession, 91, 33–40. Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. Cambridge: Belknap. Sampson, E. E. (1998). Life as an embodied art: The second stage – Beyond constructionism. In B. M. Bayer & J. Shotter (Eds.), Reconstructing the psychological subject: Bodies, practices and technologies (pp. 21–32). London: Sage. Schneider, B. (2007). Daniel Libeskind: Jewish Museum Berlin. New York: Prestel. Schoeps, J. H. (2002). The imperial era (1891–1918) (M. S. Cullen & A. Brown, Trans.). In A. Nachama, J. H. Schoeps & H. Simon (Eds.), Jews in Berlin (pp. 53–88). Berlin: Henschel. Sch€utz, C. C. (2002). The imperial era (1871–1918) (M. S. Cullen & A. Brown, Trans.). In A. Nachama, J. H. Schoeps & H. Simon (Eds.), Jews in Berlin (pp. 89–136). Berlin: Henschel. Shyovitz, D. (2010). The virtual Jewish history tour – Berlin. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/berlin.html Simon, H. (2002). Jews during the period of national socialism (M. S. Cullen & A. Brown, Trans.). In A. Nachama, J. H. Schoeps & H. Simon (Eds.), Jews in Berlin (pp. 181–220). Berlin: Henschel. Smee, J. (2006, Nov 30). A belated victory against the Nazis. The Guardian. Retrieved January 25, 2011, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/nov/03/religion.germany. Young, J. E. (2000). At memory’s edge: After-images of the Holocaust in contemporary art and architecture. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Justice Motives


On the Differentiation of an Implicit and a Self-Attributed Justice Motive Claudia Dalbert

Abstract This chapter deals with the Dissociation Model of the justice motive. The first part of the chapter presents the theoretical background to justice motive theory (Dalbert, 2001), namely the just world hypothesis (Lerner, 1980). The Dissociation Model assumes an implicit justice motive that is triggered by justice-relevant cues, operates on an intuitive level outside subjective awareness, and is particularly relevant in explaining intuitive justice-specific reactions. This implicit justice motive can be differentiated from an explicit or self-attributed justice motive that is part of the self-concept, is triggered by social clues, and is better able to explain controlled reactions. The explicit justice motive is satisfied and reinforced by social reactions and the reinforcement of the self-concept, whereas the implicit justice motive is satisfied by justice in itself. The second part of the chapter describes two lines of research investigating the Dissociation Model. Overall, the results emerging from both strands of research support the Dissociation Model. The implicit justice motive as indicated by the belief in a just world operates independently of the self-attributed justice motive. Furthermore, the implicit justice motive explains striving for justice as an aim in itself, as expressed in the just allocation of resources or the just distribution of punishment for wrongdoing.

Introduction All humans have a deep concern for justice. However, the expression of this concern differs remarkably. Some people react to observed injustice with moral outrage; some feel embittered when reflecting on their own life course; some fight for the rights of disadvantaged groups and individuals; others stick to the rules and

C. Dalbert (*) Department of Educational Psychology, Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale), Germany e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_4, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



C. Dalbert

try to behave justly; and still others justify observed injustices by blaming the victims. According to justice motive theory (Dalbert, 2001), all of these responses are rooted in a common striving for justice (i.e., the justice motive), and the differences in its expression may be partly attributable to different types of justice motives. This chapter starts by summarizing the theoretical background to justice motive theory (Dalbert, 2001), namely the just world hypothesis (Lerner, 1980). Justice motive theory distinguishes two motives, the implicit justice motive and the explicit or self-attributed justice motive. The second part of the chapter describes two lines of research, both aiming at differentiating the two justice motives. Finally, the theoretical implications of the findings and their practical meaning for conflict resolution are discussed.

Justice Motive Theory The Just World Hypothesis Several psychological theories propose explanations for justice-driven reactions. One of the most influential is the just world hypothesis introduced by Lerner (1965, 1980). The just world hypothesis states that people need to believe in a just world in which everyone gets what they deserve and deserves what they get. This belief enables them to deal with their social environment as though it were stable and orderly and thus serves important adaptive functions. As a result, people are motivated to defend their belief in a just world when it is threatened by injustices, either experienced or observed. If possible, justice is restored in reality (e.g., by compensating victims). If the injustice seems unlikely to be resolved in reality, however, people restore justice cognitively by re-evaluating the situation in line with their belief in a just world. This cognitive process, called the assimilation of injustice, was first observed by Lerner and Simmons (1966). A substantial amount of the research on belief in a just world has been experimental in nature (for a review, see Hafer & Be`gue, 2005) and focused primarily on the maladaptive functions of belief in a just world (e.g., disdain for the victim). Since the 1970s, however, another strand of research has examined individual differences in the belief in a just world and found that it also serves important adaptive functions (for a review, see Furnham, 2003). This research agenda was triggered by the introduction of the first belief in a just world scale (Rubin & Peplau, 1973, 1975), which assessed individual differences in the belief that the world is generally a just place. Since the 1990s, more studies have investigated the positive as well as the negative social consequences of the belief in a just world, and the focus of these investigations has been extended to cover its implications for believers. Based on suggestions originating from earlier research (Furnham & Procter, 1989; Lerner & Miller, 1978), these studies have shown that it is necessary

On the Differentiation of an Implicit and a Self-Attributed Justice Motive


to distinguish the belief in a personal just world, in which one personally is usually treated fairly, from the belief in a general just world or the belief in a just world for others, in which people in general get what they deserve (Dalbert, 1999; Lipkus, Dalbert, & Siegler, 1996). In line with the self-serving bias in general (Taylor, Wright, Moghaddam, & Lalonde, 1990) and fairness reasoning in particular (Messick, Bloom, Boldizar, & Samuelson, 1985), research has evidenced that people tend to endorse the personal belief in a just world more strongly than the general belief in a just world and that the two constructs have different meanings. The personal belief in a just world is a better predictor of adaptive outcomes (e.g., subjective well-being); the general belief in a just world is a better predictor of, for example, harsh social attitudes (e.g., Be`gue & Muller, 2006). The shift from the experimental to the individual differences approach to the belief in a just world made it necessary to differentiate between a justice motive and justice motivation. In the context of just world research and theory, scholars often speak of the justice motive (e.g., Ross & Miller, 2002). Motives are individual dispositions reflecting individual differences in the tendency to strive for a specific goal. A justice motive is thus an individual disposition to strive for justice as an end in itself. According to Lerner (1977), the individual belief in a just world can be interpreted as an indicator of such a justice motive. The belief in a just world indicates a personal contract; the more people want to rely on being treated justly by others, the more obligated they should feel to behave justly themselves. Thus, the stronger their belief in a just world, the stronger their justice motive is. Experimental just world research typically does not assess individual differences, however, but interprets experimental reactions in the light of just world reasoning. Such research thus addresses justice motivation, and not the justice motive as an individual differences disposition. Motivation can be defined as a person’s orientation toward a specific goal in a specific situational state; thus, justice motivation means the orientation toward justice in a given situation. Justice motivation is triggered by specific situational circumstances in interaction with personal dispositions (e.g., the justice motive or other dispositions; Lind & van den Bos, 2002; Miller, 1999).

Functions of the Belief in a Just World In the last decade, research has shown that the belief in a just world as a personality disposition serves at least three primarily adaptive functions.

Assimilation Function When individuals with a strong just world belief experience an injustice that they do not believe can be resolved in reality, they try to assimilate the experience to their just world belief. This can be done, for example, by justifying the experienced unfairness as being at least partly self-inflicted (e.g., Bulman & Wortman, 1977), by


C. Dalbert

playing down the unfairness (Lipkus & Siegler, 1993), by avoiding self-focused rumination (Dalbert, 1997), or by forgiving (Strelan, 2007). These mechanisms explain the positive relationships that have been observed between the belief in a just world and justice judgments in various domains of life. Most research into the assimilation function of the just world belief has dealt with blaming the victim and justice judgments. Observers of injustice may show disdain for the victims, reasoning that their fate is a deserved punishment for a bad character (characterological attribution), or they may blame the victims for having inflicted their fate upon themselves – after all, a self-inflicted fate is not unfair (behavioral attribution). Just world research has shown that observers prefer to blame the victim rather than to show disdain (e.g., Lerner & Matthews, 1967). Indeed, blaming the victim seems to be a crucial mean of defending the belief in a just world for observers of injustice. Similar mechanisms can be assumed to operate for the victims themselves. Comer and Laird (1975) showed experimentally that internal attributions seem to be a way of reevaluating one’s fate as just. The significance of causal attributions, and especially of internal attributions, has thus been a subject of much discussion in the context of the just world hypothesis (e.g., Lerner & Miller, 1978). People with a strong just world belief are expected to be motivated to defend their belief by making internal attributions of negative outcomes, thus maintaining their subjective well-being. Although some research has confirmed the hypothesized positive association between just world belief and internal attributions of the victims themselves (e.g., Hafer & Correy, 1999; Kiecolt-Glaser & Williams, 1987), other studies have found no association (e.g., Agrawal & Dalal, 1993; Fetchenhauer, Jacobs, & Belschak, 2005). The overall pattern of results for the belief in a just world and victims’ internal attribution is thus rather mixed. As a consequence of the assimilation process, individuals with a strong just world belief are expected to evaluate observed events and events in their own life as being more just than are individuals with a weak just world belief. For example, school students with a strong belief in a personal just world have been found to be more likely to evaluate their school grades and their teachers’, peers’, and parents’ behavior toward them as just (Correia & Dalbert, 2007; Dalbert & Stoeber, 2006). Similarly, research has shown prisoners with a strong personal just world belief to be more likely to evaluate the justice of the legal proceedings leading to their conviction, the treatment by their prison officers, and decisions on prison affairs as more just (Dalbert & Filke, 2007; Otto & Dalbert, 2005).

Trust Function People with a strong belief in a just world are thought to be confident in being treated justly by others, and this trust is hypothesized to give the just world belief the character of a resource in everyday life. Research has confirmed the expected positive association of just world belief with general interpersonal trust (e.g., Be`gue, 2002; Zuckerman & Gerbasi, 1977), trust in societal institutions

On the Differentiation of an Implicit and a Self-Attributed Justice Motive


(Correia & Vala, 2004), and young adolescents’ trust in the justice of their future workplace (Sallay, 2004). This trust in future justice has a number of implications. The belief in a just world enables individuals to rely on their good deeds being rewarded at some point in the future. The certitude that everyone will ultimately get what they deserve encourages individuals to invest in their future. In contrast, those who do not believe in a just world doubt the value of such an investment, because the return on it is uncertain. Zuckerman (1975) was the first to observe that people with a strong just world belief may choose to invest in their future when they feel the need for confidence in the fairness of their own future. Hafer (2000) corroborated these findings and demonstrated experimentally that individuals with a particular need to believe in a bright future defended their just world belief more strongly in the face of threat. In the same vein, questionnaire studies with samples of students facing the school-to-work transition (Dette, St€ober, & Dalbert, 2004), young male prisoners (Otto & Dalbert, 2005), and young adults living in assisted accommodation (Sutton & Winnard, 2007) have shown that the personal just world belief is positively associated with confidence that personal goals will be attained. Individuals with a strong belief in a just world show more trust in their future and in others’ behavior toward them. Accordingly, they expect to be confronted with fair tasks in achievement situations and their efforts to be justly rewarded. They can thus be expected to feel less threatened and more challenged by the need to achieve, to experience fewer negative emotions, and to achieve better results. Tomaka and Blascovich (1994) conducted a laboratory study to test the basic hypotheses outlined above, presenting participants with two rapid serial subtraction tasks. Participants with a strong general just world belief felt more challenged and less threatened – and performed better than did those with a weak belief. Extending this laboratory research to the school and work settings, studies have shown that the personal just world belief is positively related to school achievement (Dalbert, 2001; Dalbert & Stoeber, 2005, 2006) and to self-rated performance at work (Otto & Schmidt, 2007). Finally, Allen, HungNg, and Leiser (2005) have observed that nations whose citizens have stronger just world beliefs show a faster pace of workforce modernization and economic growth.

Motive Function In a just world, a positive future is not the gift of a benevolent world, but a reward for the individual’s behavior and character. Consequently, the more individuals believe in a just world, the more compelled they should feel to strive for justice themselves. The just world belief is thus indicative of a personal contract (Lerner, 1977), the terms of which oblige the individual to behave justly. Strong just world believers are therefore more likely to help people in need (Bierhoff, Klein, & Kramp, 1991), at least as long as the victims are seen as “innocent” (DePalma, Madey, Tillman, & Wheeler, 1999) or as member of the in-group (Correia, Vala, & Aguiar, 2007). In addition, the belief in a just world has been shown to be one of the


C. Dalbert

important correlates of social responsibility (Bierhoff, 1994), commitment to just means (Cohn & Modecki, 2007; Hafer, 2000; Sutton & Winnard, 2007), and, inversely, rule-breaking behavior (Correia & Dalbert, 2008; Otto & Dalbert, 2005). Moreover, the obligation for reciprocity has been found to be stronger among individuals with a strong just world belief (Edlund, Sagarin, & Johnson, 2006). Finally, a laboratory study found that only participants with a strong belief in a just world censured their own unjust behavior by a decrease in self-esteem (Dalbert, 1999).

The Justice Motive The justice motive reflects the striving for justice as an aim in itself. Accordingly, it is satisfied and reinforced by the experience of justice. In line with Lerner’s reasoning (1977), the belief in a just world can be interpreted as an indicator of the justice motive – namely, the striving for justice in one’s own actions and in the world in general. As indicated above, the belief in a just word operates on an intuitive and automatic level. Disdain for or blaming of victims is not the result of considered reflection. The same applies to the interpersonal trust accorded by a strong belief in a just world or to the decrease in self-esteem experienced after committing an injustice. Overall, empirical findings suggest that the belief in a just world is indicative of an implicit justice motive that is triggered by justice-relevant cues and that operates on an intuitive level outside subjective awareness – and that can therefore be expected to be particularly relevant in explaining intuitive justicespecific reactions. In line with theorizing on human motives (e.g., McClelland, Koestner, & Weinberger, 1989; Spangler, 1992) and current debate on dual-process theories (e.g., Epstein, 1990; Strack & Deutsch, 2004), justice motive theory posits two distinct types of justice motive (Dalbert, 2001): the implicit justice motive or just world justice motive, on the one hand, and the explicit or self-attributed justice motive, on the other. The explicit justice motive is an individual’s conscious selfdescription of his or her justice-related values and is part of the self-concept. It can be assessed by self-report questionnaires tapping reactions toward justice or injustice, particularly from an observer or beneficiary perspective (e.g., Fetchenhauer & Huang, 2004; Gollwitzer, Schmitt, Schalke, Maes, & Baer, 2005). It is expected be triggered by social clues and to be better able to explain controlled reactions. Further, it is thought to be satisfied and reinforced by social reactions and the reinforcement of the self-concept, whereas the implicit justice motive is satisfied by justice in itself. This reasoning is summarized in the Dissociation Model of the justice motive (see Fig. 1). The model is supported by a wealth of findings on the belief in a just world’s association with intuitive reactions and by some evidence of its independence from justice relevant self-descriptions (Dalbert, Montada, & Schmitt, 1987). Thus far, however, research systematically testing the Dissociation Model of the

On the Differentiation of an Implicit and a Self-Attributed Justice Motive


Implicit justice motive

Intuitive reactions

Self-attributed justice motive

Controlled reactions

Fig. 1 The dissociation model of the justice motive

justice motive is scarce. In the following, two lines of research addressing this double dissociation are described: research on allocation decisions (Dalbert & Umlauft, 2009) and research on unconscious decision making (Donat, 2010).

Research on Allocation Decisions This strand of research has investigated the justice motive and its meaning for justice-related decisions. Allocation decisions are prototypical examples of justicespecific reactions. They are widely investigated in the context of social-moral development (Damon, 1977; Takezawa, Gummerum, & Keller, 2006) and human altruism (Fehr & Fischbacher, 2003). On the basis of justice motive theory (Dalbert, 2001), it is hypothesized that allocation decisions can be explained by two types of justice motive: (a) the implicit or just world justice motive and (b) the justicerelated self-concept or self-attributed justice motive. These hypotheses have been tested within the framework of experimental game theory (G€uth, Schmittenberger, & Schwarze, 1982). In the different paradigms of experimental game theory, the task is usually to allocate a certain amount of money. This money is generally a windfall that has not been earned by either the recipient or the allocator. A typical view is thus that it would be fair to distribute the money equally and egoistic for the allocator to keep the entire windfall. The conditions under which the decision is made differ across allocation games. Because the allocators have to decide whether or not to dispose of the money justly, thus giving a clear indication of how much they care about justice in the world, allocation games are of particular interest in the context of justice research. In one study, Dalbert and Umlauft (2009) had participants play the dictator game, in which an allocator has to decide how much, if any, of the money to give to an


C. Dalbert

anonymous recipient whom s/he will never meet, and who has no say in the decision. In other words, the allocator acts as a dictator, who may decide to keep all the money without any negative repercussions. Interestingly, however, most players do not make egoistic choices. Generally, three subgroups of allocation decisions can be identified. Most allocators split the money equally, a decision that is generally seen as striving for fairness (Konow, 2005). A significant proportion of allocators fall into a second group, keeping all of the money for themselves (“egoistic” allocation). Finally, the remaining players give a share to the recipients, but keep more than 50% for themselves. Konow (2005) interprets this type of decision as a “trade-off” or compromise between equality and the temptation of egoism. Dalbert and Umlauft (2009) sought to provide insights into the substantial interindividual variation observed in these allocation decisions by focusing on the two contrasting decisions of equal and egoistic allocation. A striving for fairness in the dictator game can be seen as reflecting a justice motivation that is triggered by the specific situational circumstances – here, the allocation task – in interaction with personal dispositions. One important personal disposition may be the justice motive. In other words, Dalbert and Umlauft did not expect individual variation in allocation decisions to be solely attributable to the justice motive, but they did expect the justice motive to be one of the important sources of this individual variation. Equal allocation in the dictator game reflects a striving for fairness (Konow, 2005) and was thus expected to be explained by the implicit justice motive, namely the belief in a just world. Allocators with a strong implicit justice motive were therefore expected to choose equality. Moreover, individuals who described themselves as particularly concerned with justice – those with a strong self-attributed justice motive – were also expected to strive for justice in allocation decisions. In addition, these individuals were expected to avoid actions that were at odds with their self-concept. Allocators with a strong self-attributed justice motive were therefore expected to choose equality and, in particular, to avoid egoistic allocations. Two similar studies were conducted to test these hypotheses. In both, the dictator had to allocate €50 between him-/herself and an anonymous recipient. The implicit or just world justice motive was assessed with the Personal Belief in a Just World Scale (Dalbert, 1999; seven items, Study 1: a ¼ .74; Study 2: a ¼ .82; e.g., “I believe that I usually get what I deserve”). Two measures were used to estimate the explicit or self-attributed justice motive, thus avoiding the confounding of the assessment of the self-attributed justice motive and method variance: (1) Schmitt, Gollwitzer, Maes, and Arbach’s (2005) Justice Sensitivity Scale – Beneficiary Perspective, with seven items tapping feelings of distress over injustice that is to one’s own advantage (e.g., “I feel guilty when I receive better treatment than others”; Study 1: a ¼ .86; Study 2: a ¼ .89); and (2) the extended version (Dalbert & Umlauft, 2003) of the Dalbert et al. (1987) Justice Centrality Scale, with 13 items gauging distress about injustice and satisfaction with one’s own fairness (e.g., “Injustice that I caused torments me for a long time,” “There are few things that make me as happy as justice”; Study 1: a ¼ .91; Study 2: a ¼ .91). In both studies, latent structural equation modeling was used to examine relations among the explicit justice motive, the just world justice motive, and

On the Differentiation of an Implicit and a Self-Attributed Justice Motive


allocation decisions. One model tested the choice of an equal allocation as opposed to the other two decisions; one model tested an egoistic decision (“take it all”) as opposed to the other two decisions. In line with the Dissociation Model, the implicit justice motive was defined as being independent of the self-attributed justice motive in both studies. In Study 1, 119 school students played the dictator game as a paper-and-pencil task in a classroom testing session. No real money was at stake. The dictator had to allocate €50 in €5 steps. A majority of 57% split the sum equally; 37% allocated between €5 and €20 to the recipient; and 6% kept the full €50 themselves. The decision to split the sum equally was explained by both justice motives simultaneously and equally well. In contrast, egoistic allocations were negatively explained by the self-attributed justice motive, but not by the implicit justice motive. The stronger the self-attributed motive was, the less like the allocator was to opt for an egoistic allocation. Study 2 was run as a computer-based laboratory task and additionally controlled for social desirability. Again, the dictators distributed €50. In this study, however, real money was at stake for a random 16% of participants. Four of the 59 dictators decided to keep all the money and three allocated just €5 to the recipients. These two groups were collapsed into an “egoistic allocation” group (12%). Forty dictators (68%) split the €50 equally; the remaining 12 (20%) fell into the tradeoff group allocating between €10 and €20 to the recipients. At first glance, the pattern of results was very similar to that of Study 1. The decision to split the sum equally was again simultaneously explained by both justice motives, and egoistic allocations were negatively explained by the self-attributed justice motive, but not by the implicit justice motive. However, it emerged that the tendency for socially desirable responding was strongly associated with the selfattributed justice motive, but not with the implicit justice motive. Moreover, social desirability explained the allocation decisions as well as did the self-attributed justice motive. In sum, the results of both studies were very much in line with the Dissociation Model of the justice motive. (a) The implicit justice motive as indicated by the personal belief in a just world and the self-attributed justice motive as indicated by justice-specific self-descriptions were best described by two independent factors. (b) Both motives explained the equal allocation of resources, which can be interpreted as reflecting a striving for fairness. (c) Only the self-attributed justice motive explained the avoidance of egoistic allocations. (d) Moreover, as expected, only the self-attributed justice motive was contaminated by social desirability, confirming that this motive is triggered and reinforced by social incentives.

Research on Unconscious Decision Making Dijksterhuis and colleagues (e.g., Dijksterhuis, 2004; Dijksterhuis & Nordgren, 2006) have suggested that unconscious thought is often better for complex


C. Dalbert

decisions than conscious thought. A growing number of studies in different contexts provide support for this hypothesis (e.g., Dijksterhuis, Bos, Nordgren, & van Baaren, 2006; Dijksterhuis, Bos, van der Leij, & van Baaren, 2009; Dijksterhuis & van Olden, 2006; Smith, Dijksterhuis, & Wigboldus, 2008; Strick, Dijksterhuis, & van Baaren, 2010): People who made complex decisions after unconscious thought consistently showed better quality decisions (e.g., chose the most attractive object more often) than did those who consciously thought about their decisions or those who decided immediately. Donat (2010) applied the unconscious-thought paradigm to a complex justicespecific decision, namely the punishment to be imposed on four students who had stolen examination papers from their school. As better decisions have been found to result after unconscious thought, and as the implicit justice motive operates at the unconscious level, it was expected that the quality of decisions made after unconscious thought would be positively associated with the strength of the implicit justice motive. The self-attributed justice motive operates on a conscious level and was thus expected – if at all – to improve decision making after conscious thought. In vignettes, information on the four students and the deed committed was embedded in a large amount of irrelevant information. In terms of responsibility for the deed, the vignettes clearly distinguished between two students, in particular: the agitator and the watchdog. The greater the difference in the punishment imposed on these two students by the participants, the better their decision was deemed to be. These hypotheses were tested in two similar experiments. In both experiments, the implicit or just world justice motive was assessed with the General Belief in a Just World Scale (Dalbert et al., 1987; six items, Experiment 1: a ¼ .74; Experiment 2: a ¼ .70; e.g., “I am convinced that in the long run people will be compensated for injustices”). The explicit justice motive was assessed with the same instruments as in the allocation decisions studies: the Justice Sensitivity Scale – Beneficiary Perspective (Schmitt et al., 2005), with seven items tapping feelings of distress over injustice that is to one’s own advantage (Experiment 1: a ¼ .86; Experiment 2: a ¼ .85); and the extended version (Dalbert & Umlauft, 2003) of the Dalbert et al. (1987) Justice Centrality Scale, with 13 items gauging distress about injustice and satisfaction with one’s own fairness (Study 1: a ¼ .87; Study 2: a ¼ .89). On a computer screen, participants were presented four vignettes describing the deed from each student’s perspective. They then had to decide on a punishment for each student (i.e., number of hours’ schoolwork). The difference in hours between agitator and watchdog served as the dependent variable. As in the unconscious thought experiments of Dijksterhuis and colleagues (e.g., Dijksterhuis & Nordgren, 2006), three experimental conditions were compared. One group had to decide immediately after reading the four vignettes (immediate condition); a second group were given 3 min to deliberate before deciding (conscious thought condition), and a third group solved anagrams for 3 min before deciding (unconscious thought condition). In both experiments, there were 30 participants in each condition. In Experiment 1, the difference in hours of punishment significantly correlated with the implicit justice motive in the unconscious condition only, and with the

On the Differentiation of an Implicit and a Self-Attributed Justice Motive


self-attributed justice motive in the conscious condition only. Experiment 2 fully replicated the results for the implicit justice motive, but not for the explicit justice motive. In addition, social desirability was controlled, but did not explain any decisions. Thus, in line with the Differentiation Model of the justice motive, the implicit justice motive was particularly helpful in explaining complex decision making after unconscious thought. The stronger their implicit justice motive, the better able participants were to process the complex information, and to arrive at a better decision, after unconscious thought. Findings for the self-attributed justice motive were mixed.

Outlook Overall, the results emerging from both strands of research support justice theory in general and the Dissociation Model in particular. The implicit justice motive as indicated by the belief in a just world operates independently of a self-attributed justice motive. The implicit justice motive explains striving for justice as an aim in itself, as expressed in the just allocation of resources or the just distribution of punishment for wrongdoing. The notion that the implicit justice motive operates on an unconscious level is further supported by the strong association between implicit justice motive and punishment decisions observed in the unconscious condition only. The validity of the unconscious thought condition was supported by the finding that sympathy for the agitator or the watchdog partly explained punishment decisions in the immediate and the conscious condition, but not in the unconscious condition. The results thus indicate that justice-specific reactions are, to a large extent, generated on an unconscious level and are not the result of intentional deliberation. The meaning and the impact of the self-attributed justice motive is less clear. Does it depict anything more than a tendency for social desirable responding? And how does it operate – by deliberation? These questions remain unanswered. However, studies have consistently found the explicit justice motive and the implicit justice motive to be two independent constructs. Although findings on the implicit justice motive were consistent across studies, one point requires further consideration. In the dictator game studies, the implicit justice motive was indicated by the personal belief in a just world. This is in line with early observations on the motive function of belief in a just world, which showed that the personal – but not the general – belief in a just world explained the decrease in self-esteem experienced by individuals who had committed an injustice (Dalbert, 1999). Thus, it might seem reasonable to conclude that the personal belief in a just world is a better indicator of a justice motive than the general belief in a just world. However, in the agitator/watchdog experiments, the justice motive was better indicated by the general belief in a just world (Donat, 2010). How might this difference be explained? Under which conditions is the personal versus the general belief in a just world a better indicator of the implicit justice motive?


C. Dalbert

It might be speculated that there is something specific about punishment decisions that makes the general belief in a just world the better indicator of a justice motive in this context. The personal belief in a just world seems to be the better indicator of the implicit justice motive in contexts pertaining to one’s own situation (confrontation with one’s own behavior, allocation of one’s own money). In contrast, punishment decisions relate to others – who are part of the general just world. The belief in a general just world may therefore be a better indicator of the implicit justice motive in this context. Future studies are needed to investigate these aspects further. The main message for conflict resolution is that there are great individual differences in the striving for justice, that most these strivings take place on an unconscious level, and that they are satisfied by the subjective experience of increased justice. Yet the subjective experience of increased justice does not necessarily mean that the victims’ situation is improved in reality. The stronger their implicit justice motive, the more people involved in a conflict may tend to assimilate injustices, thus playing down the conflict. Perpetrators may justify their acts and consequently perpetuate the injustice by failing to compensating the victim. Victims, on the other hand, may assimilate their fate by minimizing the injustice and blaming themselves for having a part in it, thus also perpetuating the injustice – as long as the injustice is not too grave or experienced too often. Thus, each partner in a conflict is at risk of perpetuating injustice – not through cynicism, but because of the urgent, yet unconscious, need to strive for justice. Mediation processes may aim to make these implicit unconscious processes more explicit and thus resolve the conflict in a way that is acceptable to all parties. However, it is important to remember that complex justice-specific decisions are better if made on an unconscious level. Thus, the parties should be given time to process the information unconsciously.

References Agrawal, M., & Dalal, A. K. (1993). Beliefs about the world and recovery from myocardial infarction. The Journal of Social Psychology, 133, 385–394. Allen, M. W., HungNg, S., & Leiser, D. (2005). Adult economic model and values survey: Crossnational differences in economic beliefs. Journal of Economic Psychology, 26, 159–185. Be`gue, L. (2002). Beliefs in justice and faith in people: Just world, religiosity and interpersonal trust. Personality and Individual Differences, 32, 375–382. Be`gue, L., & Muller, D. (2006). Belief in a just world as moderator of hostile attributional bias. British Journal of Social Psychology, 45, 117–126. Bierhoff, H.-W. (1994). Verantwortung und altruistische Pers€onlichkeit [Responsibility and altruistic personality]. Zeitschrift f€ ur Sozialpsychologie, 25, 217–226. Bierhoff, H.-W., Klein, R., & Kramp, P. (1991). Evidence for the altruistic personality from data on accident research. Journal of Personality, 59, 263–280. Bulman, R. J., & Wortman, C. B. (1977). Attributions of blame and coping in the “real world”: Severe accident victims react to their lot. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 351–363.

On the Differentiation of an Implicit and a Self-Attributed Justice Motive


Cohn, E. S., & Modecki, K. L. (2007). Gender differences in predicting delinquent behavior: Do individual differences matter? Social Behavior and Personality, 35, 359–374. Comer, R., & Laird, J. D. (1975). Choosing to suffer as a consequence of expecting to suffer: Why do people do it? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 92–101. Correia, I., & Dalbert, C. (2007). Belief in a just world, justice concerns, and well-being at Portuguese schools. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 22, 421–437. Correia, I., & Dalbert, C. (2008). School bullying: Belief in a personal just world of bullies, victims, and defenders. European Psychologist, 13, 249–254. Correia, I., & Vala, J. (2004). Belief in a just world, subjective well-being and trust of young adults. In C. Dalbert & H. Sallay (Eds.), The justice motive in adolescence and young adulthood: Origins and consequences (pp. 85–100). London: Routledge. Correia, I., Vala, J., & Aguiar, O. (2007). Victim’s innocence, social categorization, and the threat to the belief in a just world. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 31–38. Dalbert, C. (1997). Coping with an unjust fate: The case of structural unemployment. Social Justice Research, 10, 175–189. Dalbert, C. (1999). The world is more just for me than generally: About the personal belief in a just world scale’s validity. Social Justice Research, 12, 79–98. Dalbert, C. (2001). The justice motive as a personal resource: Dealing with challenges and critical life events. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. Dalbert, C., & Filke, E. (2007). Belief in a just world, justice judgments, and their functions for prisoners. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 34, 1516–1527. Dalbert, C., Montada, L., & Schmitt, M. (1987). Glaube an eine gerechte Welt als Motiv: Validierungskorrelate zweier Skalen [The belief in a just world as a motive: Validity correlates of two scales]. Psychologische Beitr€ age, 29, 596–615. Dalbert, C., & Stoeber, J. (2005). The belief in a just world and distress at school. Social Psychology of Education, 8, 123–135. Dalbert, C., & Stoeber, J. (2006). The personal belief in a just world and domain-specific beliefs about justice at school and in the family: A longitudinal study with adolescents. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 30, 200–207. Dalbert, C., & Umlauft, S. (2003). Justice Centrality Scale. Retrieved from http://www.erzwiss. uni-halle.de/gliederung/paed/ppsych/insteng.html Dalbert, C., & Umlauft, S. (2009). The role of the justice motive in economic decision making. Journal of Economic Psychology, 30, 172–180. Damon, W. (1977). The social world of the child. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. DePalma, M., Madey, S. F., Tillman, T. C., & Wheeler, J. (1999). Perceived patient responsibility and belief in a just world affect helping. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 21, 131–137. Dette, D., St€ober, J., & Dalbert, C. (2004). Belief in a just world and adolescents’ vocational and social goals. In C. Dalbert & H. Sallay (Eds.), The justice motive in adolescence and young adulthood: Origins and consequences (pp. 11–25). London: Routledge. Dijksterhuis, A. (2004). Think different: The merits of unconscious thought in preference development and decision making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 586–598. Dijksterhuis, A., Bos, M. W., Nordgren, L. F., & van Baaren, R. B. (2006). On making the right choice: The deliberation-without-attention effect. Science, 311, 1005–1007. Dijksterhuis, A., Bos, M. W., van der Leij, A., & van Baaren, R. B. (2009). Predicting soccer matches after unconscious and conscious thought as a function of expertise. Psychological Science, 20, 1381–1387. Dijksterhuis, A., & Nordgren, L. F. (2006). A theory of unconscious thought. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1, 95–109. Dijksterhuis, A., & van Olden, Z. (2006). On the benefits of thinking unconsciously: Unconscious thought can increase post-choice satisfaction. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 627–631. Donat, M. (2010). Dissoziation des Gerechtigkeitsmotivs und unbewusstes Denken bei der Entscheidungsfindung [Dissociation of the justice motive and unconscious thought in decision-making]. Hamburg: Verlag Dr. Kovac.


C. Dalbert

Edlund, J. E., Sagarin, B. J., & Johnson, B. S. (2006). Reciprocity and the belief in a just world. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 589–596. Epstein, S. (1990). Cognitive-experiential self-theory. In L. A. Pervin (Ed.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (pp. 165–192). New York: Guilford Press. Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2003). The nature of human altruism. Nature, 425, 785–791. Fetchenhauer, D., & Huang, X. (2004). Justice sensitivity and distributive decisions in experimental games. Personality and Individual Differences, 36, 1015–1029. Fetchenhauer, D., Jacobs, G., & Belschak, F. (2005). Belief in a just world, causal attributions, and adjustment to sexual violence. Social Justice Research, 18, 25–42. Furnham, A. (2003). Belief in a just world: Research progress over the past decade. Personality and Individual Differences, 34, 795–817. Furnham, A., & Procter, E. (1989). Belief in a just world: Review and critique of the individual difference literature. British Journal of Social Psychology, 28, 365–384. Gollwitzer, M., Schmitt, M., Schalke, R., Maes, J., & Baer, A. (2005). Asymmetrical effects of justice sensitivity perspectives on prosocial and antisocial behavior. Social Justice Research, 18, 183–201. G€uth, W., Schmittenberger, R., & Schwarze, B. (1982). An experimental analysis of ultimate bargaining. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 3, 367–388. Hafer, C. L. (2000). Investment in long-term goals and commitment to just means drive the need to believe in a just world. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1059–1073. Hafer, C. L., & Be`gue, L. (2005). Experimental research on just-world theory: Problems, development, and future challenges. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 128–167. Hafer, C. L., & Correy, B. L. (1999). Mediators of the relation of beliefs in a just world and emotional responses to negative outcomes. Social Justice Research, 12, 189–204. Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., & Williams, D. A. (1987). Self-blame, compliance, and distress among burn patients. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 187–193. Konow, J. (2005). Blind spots: The effects of information and stakes on fairness bias and dispersion. Social Justice Research, 18, 349–390. Lerner, M. J. (1965). Evaluation of performance as a function of performer’s reward and attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1, 355–360. Lerner, M. J. (1977). The justice motive: Some hypotheses as to its origins and forms. Journal of Personality, 45, 1–52. Lerner, M. J. (1980). The belief in a just world: A fundamental delusion. New York: Plenum Press. Lerner, M. J., & Matthews, J. (1967). Reactions to suffering of others under conditions of indirect responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5, 319–325. Lerner, M. J., & Miller, D. T. (1978). Just world research and the attribution process: Looking back and ahead. Psychological Bulletin, 85, 1030–1051. Lerner, M. J., & Simmons, C. H. (1966). The observer’s reaction to the “innocent victim”: Compassion or rejection? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 203–210. Lind, E. A., & van den Bos, K. (2002). When fairness works: Toward a general theory of uncertainty management. Research in Organizational Behavior, 24, 181–223. Lipkus, I. M., Dalbert, C., & Siegler, I. C. (1996). The importance of distinguishing the belief in a just world for self versus for others: Implications for psychological well-being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 666–677. Lipkus, I. M., & Siegler, I. C. (1993). The belief in a just world and perceptions of discrimination. Journal of Psychology, 127, 465–474. McClelland, D. C., Koestner, R., & Weinberger, J. (1989). How do self-attributed and implicit motives differ? Psychological Review, 96, 680–702. Messick, D. M., Bloom, S., Boldizar, J. P., & Samuelson, C. D. (1985). Why are we fairer than others? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 21, 480–500. Miller, D. T. (1999). The norm of self-interest. American Psychologist, 54, 1053–1060. Otto, K., & Dalbert, C. (2005). Belief in a just world and its functions for young prisoners. Journal of Research in Personality, 39, 559–573. Otto, K., & Schmidt, S. (2007). Dealing with stress in the workplace: Compensatory effects of belief in a just world. European Psychologist, 12, 253–260.

On the Differentiation of an Implicit and a Self-Attributed Justice Motive


Ross, M., & Miller, D. T. (Eds.). (2002). The justice motive in everyday life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rubin, Z., & Peplau, L. A. (1973). Belief in a just world and reaction to another’s lot: A study of participants in the national draft lottery. Journal of Social Issues, 29(4), 73–93. Rubin, Z., & Peplau, L. A. (1975). Who believes in a just world? Journal of Social Issues, 31(3), 65–89. Sallay, H. (2004). Entering the job market: Belief in a just world, fairness and well-being of graduating students. In C. Dalbert & H. Sallay (Eds.), The justice motive in adolescence and young adulthood: Origins and consequences (pp. 215–231). London: Routledge. Schmitt, M., Gollwitzer, M., Maes, J., & Arbach, D. (2005). Justice sensitivity: Assessment and location in the personality space. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 21, 202–211. Smith, K. P., Dijksterhuis, A., & Wigboldus, D. H. J. (2008). Powerful people make good decisions even when they consciously think. Psychological Science, 19, 1258–1259. Spangler, W. D. (1992). Validity of questionnaire and TAT measures of need for achievement: Two meta-analyses. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 140–154. Strack, F., & Deutsch, R. (2004). Reflective and impulsive determinants of social behaviour. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 8, 220–247. Strelan, P. (2007). The prosocial, adaptive qualities of just world beliefs: Implications for the relationship between justice and forgiveness. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 881–890. Strick, M., Dijksterhuis, A., & van Baaren, R. B. (2010). Unconscious-thought effects take place off-line, not on-line. Psychological Science, 21, 484–488. Sutton, R. M., & Winnard, E. J. (2007). Looking ahead through lenses of justice: The relevance of just-world beliefs to intentions and confidence in the future. British Journal of Social Psychology, 46, 649–666. Takezawa, M., Gummerum, M., & Keller, M. (2006). A stage for the rational tail of the emotional dog: Roles of moral reasoning in group decision making. Journal of Economic Psychology, 27, 117–139. Taylor, D. M., Wright, G. C., Moghaddam, F. M., & Lalonde, R. N. (1990). The personal/group discrimination discrepancy: Perceiving my group, but not myself, to be a target for discrimination. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 16, 254–262. Tomaka, J., & Blascovich, J. (1994). Effects of justice beliefs on cognitive, psychological, and behavioral responses to potential stress. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 732–740. Zuckerman, M. (1975). Belief in a just world and altruistic behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 972–976. Zuckerman, M., & Gerbasi, K. C. (1977). Belief in a just world and trust. Journal of Research in Personality, 11, 306–317.


About Is and Ought in Research on Belief in a Just World: The Janus-Faced Just-World Motivation J€ urgen Maes, Christian Tarnai, and Julia Schuster

Abstract The history of just-world research is almost 50 years old and still shows continuously increasing publication rates. In these 50 years, two clearly different phases can be distinguished. Up to the end of the 1980s, studies predominantly concentrated on the effects of just-world beliefs (BJW) on victims of injustice, misfortune or failure. These studies portrayed BJW as an anti-social trait which makes people prone to disdain their fellow people, to exclude minorities, to devalue innocent victims and to pursue them with blame and reproach. Since more than 15 years ago a distinctive change can be observed: From then on, studies have concentrated on the positive functions of BJW. These more recent studies present BJW as a personal resource which subserves people in manifold ways in everyday life: It allows individuals to invest time and energy in long-term goals and futureoriented activities, it facilitates the development of trust in other people and society, and it provides a conceptual framework which helps to find meaning in the events of life. These different findings involve rather different explicit and implicit valuations of the just-world phenomenon. While it seemed reasonable in the first phase to view BJW in a negative light, to advise against it and to restrain its detrimental effects, the phenomenon is judged much more positively in recent years, its benefits are highlighted, and its promotion is considered. The current paper attempts to combine the two perspectives again: The originally observed rather detrimental effects should not be forgotten when looking at the more recently found rather positively connoted effects. Both might be two sides of the same medal: It is just because BJW has so manifold positive functions and can be used as a personal resource that individuals are so reluctant to give it up only because of contradicting evidence in everyday life. We illustrate the connection of these two sides with data from three studies including the formerly used variables as well as the more recently considered variables.

J. Maes (*) • C. Tarnai • J. Schuster Department of Education, Bundeswehr University Munich, Neubiberg, Germany e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_5, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



J. Maes et al.

Introduction Justice is a normative concept, a value, a virtue, or an ought statement. As Leo Montada points out in his contribution to this volume, empirical researchers cannot determine what is truly just or desirable. They can not answer normative, but only empirical questions, e.g. what people consider as just or unjust in which situation, how convictions about justice are shaped by personality traits, learning and socialization, how beliefs about justice can be influenced and changed etc. Nevertheless, empirical researchers do not only analyze phenomena soberly and impartially, they also evaluate them. They value explicitly, and sometimes implicitly. The present chapter is about values and valuations in a manifold way. It focuses on research on belief in a just world (BJW) and the role the normative concept, the value of justice plays in this research. Beyond pure research results, the (e)valuations are considered, which researchers draw explicitly or suggest implicitly. And finally, a valuation of these valuations is discussed. A view back to the history of research on BJW should help to illustrate this matter.

Two Phases of Just World Research The history of research on BJW begins almost 15 years ago with two experiments published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The first experiment (Lerner, 1965) involved two men being rewarded accidentally for working on a task. Regardless of the stimulus persons ‘performance, and regardless of the subjects’ sympathy for one of the two stimulus persons, their evaluations were more positive for the one who had been accidentally rewarded. They seemed to convince themselves that he had deserved the chance outcome. The subjects in the second experiment (Lerner & Simmons, 1966) devalued a victim that got electric shocks in a pretended learning experiment. If the subjects could decide that the victim would receive a reward instead of a shock in the next round, they did so and restored justice this way. But choice was not enough to prevent derogation; the subjects had to be sure that their decision would be successful in reducing the victim’s suffering. The worst evaluations of the victim could be observed in the socalled “martyr” condition in which the victim only took part in the experiment for the subjects’ benefit (Lerner, 1974; McDonald, 1977). The results of the first experiments can be summarized as follows: Belief in a just world influences social judgments and evaluations of other people. Regardless of whether the stimulus persons’ fate is portrayed as positive or negative, subjects seem to convince themselves that they deserve their fate. Thus, belief in a just world leads to derogation of losers, victims and underprivileged people (cf. Lerner & Simmons, 1966; Lerner, 1978) and to admiration of winners and privileged people (Lerner, 1965, 1978).

About Is and Ought in Research on Belief in a Just World


Based on such experiments, Lerner developed his theory of just-world motivation: To be able to survive in a complex social world, people need to believe that they are living in a world where everybody gets what he deserves and deserves what he gets. If this belief is threatened by observing or experiencing severe injustices, people are motivated to maintain or restore their original belief at almost any cost. To this end they choose either behavioral or cognitive strategies. As far as possible, they will try to meet the requirements of their moral self-concept as a good citizen by helping victims of injustice and trying to restore justice. If this is not possible – because there was no opportunity to do so, because help would have been too costly, or because well-meant efforts have failed – people will often restore justice cognitively by means of perceptual distortions and delusions. They try to convince themselves that nothing terrible has really happened, that there was a point to the injustice, or that the victim did not deserve any better. Since these beginnings, many hundred studies have applied and tested Melvin Lerner’s assumptions on people’s need to believe in a just world. It is documented and summarized in great detail in one monograph (Lerner, 1980), several reviews (Furnham, 2003a; Furnham & Procter, 1989; Hafer & Be`gue, 2005; Lerner & Miller, 1978; Maes, 1998), and several theoretical surveys (Lerner, 1977; Lerner, Miller, & Holmes, 1976). Lerner’s idea of BJW has inspired numerous researchers world-wide to study this phenomenon, to propose specifications, new research designs and further applications. The psychological data bases (PsycINFO, PSYNDEX) show continuously increasing publication rates over decades (see Fig. 1). But, there seems to be a clear shift in the research questions and in the type of results presented with a clear line of demarcation in the beginning of the 1990s. The two phases before and after this cesura are characterized not only by different research questions and a different focus on BJW, but also by different valuations of the just-world phenomenon.

Fig. 1 Amount of studies and progression in just world research (with demarcation line in the mid of the 1990s)


J. Maes et al.

Phase 1: BJW as a Distorted Perception of Reality Up to the end of the 1980s, studies focused on effects of BJW and portrayed this conviction as an anti-social trait which leads people to exclude minorities, to condemn, to devalue and to reproach victims of a bad fate (“blaming-the-victim” phenomenon; Ryan, 1971). Numerous experimental studies were stimulated by the Lerner-and-Simmons paradigm. For example, similar patterns were found by Simons and Piliavin (1972) as well as Johnson and Dickinson (1971), using different groups of subjects. McDonald (1977) as well as Latta, Bernhardt, Hildebrand, and Kahn (1974) could replicate the paradox of the “martyr” condition. In an experiment by Stein (1973), children devalued the attractiveness of another child that had been punished when playing a bowling game. Lerner et al., (1976) summarize the core result of many studies: The less deserved a suffering was portrayed, the more the victims were devalued and derogated. Experiments stemming from various other fields of research could be interpreted in the light of BJW, e.g. studies on responsibility attribution to rape victims (Jones & Aronson, 1973; Kleinke & Meyer, 1990), on reactions to miscarriage (Stokols & Schopler, 1973) or on reactions towards victims of aggressive assaults (Lincoln & Levinger, 1972). Conclusion: Belief in a just world influences social judgments and evaluations of other people. Regardless of whether the stimulus persons’ fate is portrayed as positive or negative, subjects seem to convince themselves that they deserve their fate. Thus, belief in a just world leads to derogation of losers, victims and underprivileged people, and to admiration of winners and privileged people. First, BJW was only used as an interpretative construct to understand and explain the reactions in different experimental conditions. Since Rubin and Peplau (1973, 1975) have presented a scale to measure individual differences in BJW, the original experiments were completed by numerous correlational studies. With this scale and a number of refined scales and versions (for an overview: Furnham, 2003a; Maes, 1998) the results of the experimental studies could be corroborated. The typical experimental effects could especially be shown for persons high in BJW and were not as pronounced for persons low in BJW (Wagstaff, 1983; Zuckerman & Gerbasi, 1977). Moreover, numerous correlational studies showed that individual BJW is consistently linked with derogation and attributing blame to people with serious financial and health problems (MacLean & Chown, 1988), to victims of poverty in the Third World (Harper & Manasse, 1992), the unemployed and foreign workers (Montada, 1991, 1992; Montada & Schneider, 1989, 1991), cancer patients and accident victims (Maes & Montada, 1989), gypsies in Hungary (Dalbert & Katona-Sallay, 1996), victims of AIDS (Connors & Heaven, 1990; Glennon & Joseph, 1993; Murphy-Berman & Berman, 1990) and many other groups of victims (reviews: Furnham & Procter, 1989; Furnham, 2003a; Maes, 1998): the higher the individual BJW, the more derogation and social exclusion of minority and victim groups.

About Is and Ought in Research on Belief in a Just World


Phase 2: BJW as a Resource Since the first half of the 1990s a clear shift of research perspectives can be observed: While researchers in the first phase were more interested in how people defend their BJW and therefore studied the effects of BJW on fellow people and social relations, they now turn to the question why people defend this belief so vehemently and therefore study the functions of BJW for the believers themselves. Thus, they put forward an aspect of Lerner’s original theoretical reasoning which had been neglected in many follow studies in the 1970s and 1980s. Lerner had originally described the effects of BJW for social life and person perception as well as this belief’s functions for the acting individual. According to this, the tenacious maintenance of the just-world assumption has its roots in this belief’s crucial functions. To be able to survive in a complex social world, people strongly depend on their belief in justice. It enables them to invest time and energy in future-oriented activities, to build up trust in fellow people and social institutions, and to perceive meaning in the events of life (Lerner, 1980). Since the mid of the 1990s many empirical studies portray BJW as a positive resource which subserves individuals in everyday life in manifold regards. An increasing number of experiments and correlational studies now shows how BJW can improve learning and achievement in school (Dalbert & Maes, 2002; Maes, 1997; Maes & Kals, 2002) and in further education (Maes, 2007), protect subjects against stress and health problems (Dalbert, 1997) and facilitate dealing with loss, negative emotions and difficult life situations (for a summary: Dalbert, 2001). Some typical research examples: Hafer (2000) directly tested the assumption that BJW is important in planning future activities. In her experiment, subjects who had been primed to think of their long-term goals in university devalued an innocent victim more than subjects who had focused on a neutral topic. In a laboratory study conducted by Tomaka and Blascovich (1994), subjects had to solve arithmetic tasks. Those high in BJW perceived the stressful situation more favorably, considering it as being more of a challenge than a threat (this was also reflected in their autonomic reactions), and performed better than subjects low in BJW. Dalbert and Maes (2002) presented data from different school studies, and were essentially able to confirm their hypothesis that BJW can serve as a resource that enables achievement behavior and protects pupils’ mental health in school. School-specific BJW proved to be correlated with well-being and motivation, whereas school-specific belief in an unjust world coincided with stress and reduced well-being. Belief in a just world seemed to support the perception of a fair school climate, increase wellbeing and motivation, and create a good learning environment. Belief in a just world and perceived fairness proved to be a better predictor of stress than grades. In a school study conducted by Maes (1997), BJW was positively linked with optimal aspiration levels and achievement-oriented emotions and negatively with health problems, vegetative dystonia, depression and test anxiety. This shift in just world research is completely consistent with Lerner’s original theory. According to his justice motive theory (Lerner, 1977), it is precisely the fact that people are strongly


J. Maes et al.

reliant on BJW for developing long-term reality orientations that constitutes its motivational force.

Explicit and Implicit (e)valuations of BJW in the Two Phases of BJW Research Scientists are primarily concerned with describing and explaining phenomena. If they also evaluate these phenomena, they do this outside the tight frame of their scientific endeavor. Of course, there indeed are many references between science and valuation (cf. Brandtst€adter, 1977). For example, Science can support valuations and provide information that helps to substantiate valuations on an assured basis – nevertheless, the valuations are not an intrinsic part of the scientific endeavor. In spite of many attempts, there is no unproblematic way to derive the Ought from the Is logically (cf. Brandtst€adter, 1980). Notwithstanding, each scientific conception will be evaluated, be it by science itself or be it by the public receivers. And if an effect of a phenomenon can be demonstrated that is generally regarded as welcome and desirable, people will be prone to value also this phenomenon as positive. On the other side, one will rather be prone to value a phenomenon as negative for which consequences have been shown that are generally regarded as detrimental for individuals and/or society. Phenomena can be evaluated explicitly, e.g. on the base of their consequences demonstrated empirically. But more often, already the choice of our labels and wordings suggests certain valuations implicitly. In this sense, Brandtst€adter and Montada (1980) have illustrated what they call the “crypto-normative contents” of research on education styles. In the following, we will look at how the BJW phenomenon is valued explicitly in both phases of research and which valuations are suggested by the choice of labels and descriptors.

Valuations in Phase 1 A collection of labels that have been used to characterize and circumscribe BJW in the first phase of research shows that such implicit valuations really exist. In this literature, BJW is described as a motivated and distorted perception of reality, as a sort of defense mechanism, as an irrational look at the world, an unrealistic construction of reality, or simply as a prejudice. Such a labeling of a cognition as “distorted” is part of the typical “crypto-normative vocabulary” illustrated by Brandtst€adter and Montada (1980) and tacitly presupposes the norm that “good” and “correct” perceptions should be realistic and undistorted. Then, it is not astonishing that also the explicit valuations of BJW turn out to be rather negative and that some authors perceive BJW as a package of delusions and

About Is and Ought in Research on Belief in a Just World


impediments on our way to a just society (cf. Albee, 1986; Solomon, 1989). Of course then, these delusions and impairments have to be dispelled. Others expect that an explication and public demonstration of the BJW phenomenon will contribute to more individual self-awareness and enlightenment and smooth the way to more humanity and objective justice in the world (McDonald, 1973; Wagstaff, 1982).

Valuations in Phase 2 The opposite picture results from a collection of BJW labels in stage 2. Typical designations now are: personal resource, protective shield against stress, coping device, or buffer against negative emotions. Here, the crypto-normative contents suggest different valuations: A resource should be estimated and resorted to, help should be accepted and negative emotions should be eliminated if the possibility is there. A phenomenon that proved to have so many useful and healthy consequences should of course not be abolished – on the contrary, it should be promoted and strengthened. Furnham (2003b) therefore resumes: “Just world beliefs are good for you.” Taken together, it can be said that the labels of BJW in the two phases of research comprise totally different implicit valuations, which are reflected in some researchers’ explicit valuations of BJW. An overview on the crypto-normative contents of different labels and attributes of BJW is given in Table 1. The different valuations can be arranged on a bipolar axis “good versus bad” or “helpful versus precarious”. In phase 1, BJW appears as a phenomenon that has to be judged negatively and has to be allayed or reduced, that has to be prevented or even be battled against. In phase 2, it appears as a phenomenon that has to be judged positively, that has to be preserved, to be resorted to, to be developed and fostered.

Table 1 Labels of BJW and their crypto-normative contents Phase Labeling of BJW Crypto-normative contents 1


Defense mechanism Perceptual distortion Denial Irrational world-view Unrealistic construction of reality Prejudice Resource Protective shield against stress Coping device Buffer against negative emotions

We should give up defensive attitudes We should face reality in an undistorted manner We should accept, not deny We should act on reason and rationality We should develop a realistic look at the world We should live in an unprejudiced way we should resort to and protect our resources We should safeguard ourselves against stress We should cope effectively and use devices We should protect ourselves against negative emotions


J. Maes et al.

Contradicting Results or Two Sides of One Medal? If one considers these seemingly contradicting results and valuations, one may question whether they really refer to the same phenomenon and what might explain the differences. Anyhow, the studies of both phases refer to the same theory, and they adopt – if measuring BJW directly – the same or comparable scales. Of course, it might be that BJW has changed its meaning through socio-cultural change and therefore shows other consequences than decades before. But it seems more probable that one might have found the same nowadays described positive consequences of BJW already in the 1970s and 1980s if one had focused them, and that today one would find the same negative consequences described in the 1970s and 1980s if looking for them. If this reasoning is correct, the seemingly contradicting results would only be the expression of different scientific perspectives and different sections of interpersonal events studied. This conjecture seems to be supported by a comparison of typical variables that were considered in phase 1 and 2 of BJW research (see Table 2). These variables can be subdivided into three groups: 1. Justice variables: e.g. the amount of experienced injustice is assessed (which in experiments is induced by certain manipulations of the independent variables), and/or individual BJW is measured by respective scales. 2. Indicators of social evaluations/effects for fellow people: Among the typical variables are perceptions/appraisals of social winners or losers, responsibility attributions to the victims of injustice (“How far is the person responsible for her fate?,” “How far has she contributed to her lot?,” “How far can the person be blamed?” etc.) or derogation of victims or losers (e.g. relative appraisals of victims – as compared to average people – on lists of unipolar or bipolar evaluative adjectives). 3. Indicators of positive functions/resource aspects of BJW: Among the variables assessed are favorable stress appraisals (“challenge” instead of “threat”),

Table 2 Variables regarded in the two stages Variable group Variables considered in stage 1 Justice Amount of experienced injustice Belief in a just world Behavior towards Derogation victims Reproach Responsibility attributions to victims Positive effects

Variables considered in stage 2 Amount of experienced injustice/critical life events Belief in a just world

(Subjective) well-being Achievement and performance Meaning in life Confidence in future

About Is and Ought in Research on Belief in a Just World


subjective well-being, life contentment, positive emotional states, future orientation, achievement orientation and motivation. Comparing the variables regarded in both phases of BJW research (Table 2), it is striking that only the justice variables were assessed in the studies of both phases. Beyond that, there are no overlaps: Social evaluations (consequences of BJW for others) were predominantly considered by studies in phase 1, indicators of the resource functions of BJW (consequences for self) were predominantly considered by studies in phase 2. Therefore, it is possible that the apparent contradictions only are two sides of the same medal and that one could confirm the typical results from phase 1 as well as the typical results from phase 2 if taking into regard the whole tableau of relevant variables simultaneously. This would be completely consistent with Lerner’s original theory. Lerner had never assumed that people derogate innocent victims because they are bad people or because they want to bring harm upon their fellow people, but simply because this often constitutes the only possibility to preserve BJW, which has crucial importance for everyday functioning. According to his justice motive theory (Lerner, 1977), it is precisely the fact that people are strongly reliant on BJW for developing long-term reality orientations that constitutes its motivational force: People sometimes devalue victims in order to preserve their BJW which then can display its positive functions again. Lerner (1977) described the BJW as an essential human motive: in order to be able to survive in a complex social world, people depend on their belief in justice and sometimes on derogating and reproaching victims.

Research Evidence But this can only be ascertained in studies which incorporate the consequences of BJW for other people as well as the consequences for the justice-believer himself. Thus, we have to look for studies which include the typical variables of phase 1 as well as the typical variables of phase 2. Maes and Tarnai (2008) report on three studies in which the whole net of variables was operationalized. In accordance with the results of BJW research in phase 1 it was supposed that there are direct effects of BJW on the appraisal of victims: the higher the individual BJW, the more negative the evaluation of persons with a bad fate. In accordance with the results of BJW research in phase 2 it was supposed that there are direct effects of BJW on indicators of the resource function. In accordance with Lerner’s original reasoning it was expected that there are indirect effects of BJW via victim devaluation on the justice believer’s functioning and well-being. All scales used have satisfying measuring properties. Study 1 (cancer study): In a large study on attitudes to cancer and cancer victims (N ¼ 326) all relevant variable groups were assessed: BJW, derogation and downgrading of cancer victims, blaming and reproach of victims, and confidence


J. Maes et al.

in being able to cope with cancer if affected oneself one day. Confidence in coping was higher, the more victims were blamed and derogated and the higher the judging person’s BJW. Blaming and derogation increased with individual BJW. Besides, there were indirect effects of BJW on coping confidence via derogation and blaming. The direct effect of BJW on derogation is consistent with the results of phase 1, the direct effect of BJW on coping confidence is consistent with the results of phase 2, the indirect effect reflects the original reasoning that devaluation of victims helps to maintain BJW which then can keep its positive functions for individual well-being. Study 2 (school study, Kaiser, L€ uken, Maes, & Winkels 1994): Also in this study (N ¼ 1,274), all three variable groups were included: BJW, blaming and derogation of unsuccessful pupils, confidence in learning and achievement, and test anxiety. Once again, confidence increased with derogating other pupils and with individual BJW. On the other hand, test anxiety decreased with devaluation and individual BJW. There were direct effects of BJW on derogation, and indirect effects of BJW on confidence and a low test anxiety via derogation. Study 3 (resource and blaming study): This study (N ¼ 163) is less domainspecific, instead it focuses positive resources in a more general way and aggregates blaming of different victim groups (unemployed people, cancer victims, victims of traffic accidents, and students who failed definitely in their academic studies). BJW was assessed as well as generalized blaming and – among other indicators of wellbeing and functioning – individual self-esteem (scale by Rosenberg, 1965). Once again, blaming as well as self-esteem are directly influenced by BJW; besides, there is an indirect effect of BJW on self-esteem via generalized blaming.

Discussion Thus, these studies confirm the results of both phases of research on BJW. BJW is connected with the derogation of innocent victims and simultaneously has positive consequences for the justice believers and provides them with confidence and actionability in everyday life. Therefore, both perspectives should be linked together again. After all, when considering BJW as a resource in everyday life, the former studies have not become invalid, studies that portrayed BJW as an antisocial trait coinciding with blaming and exclusion of innocent victims. Both consequences have been substantiated in many cases and do not really contradict each other: On the one hand, BJW can produce beneficial consequences and become indispensable for many, and the reluctance to give up this positive resource is accompanied by rather negative concomitants. Victims are devalued and excluded in order to maintain one’s own belief in justice and to be able to use it as a resource further on. What is a resource for an actor can become detrimental for this person’s fellow people. While it seems rather plausible and comprehensible to value victim derogation negatively and resources for everyday functioning positively, the interplay of both

About Is and Ought in Research on Belief in a Just World


makes valuations much more difficult and ambiguous. We therefore advocate staying rather reserved concerning valuations. Instead, further research questions should be sighted: Which are the alternatives for maintaining one’s belief in justice? What are the consequences of these alternatives for self and others? Can we develop criteria to discriminate rather “mature” and rather “premature” forms of belief in justice? How far are individuals aware of the just world phenomenon? What happens if subjects are enlightened about the phenomenon? Further studies should focus the dynamics of justice beliefs and justice motives for self and others likewise and help to gain more insight how the adhesion to justice can be rendered as positive and productive as possible for everybody. In order to contribute to this aim, the concept of belief in justice should be conceived as clear-cut and as differentiated as possible. BJW is a rather complex concept: Lerner’s original reasoning comprises perceptual issues (perceiving the world or parts of the world as more or less just), normative issues (defining or determining what is just for an individual), motivational issues (longing and striving for justice), and actional issues (contributing to justice, restoring justice, compensating victims of injustice). But, the construction of scales often tends to turn things more unidimensional, and often such unidimensional instruments do not meet the complexity of an elaborated concept. Rightly, authors have portended that in empirical studies BJW often resembles a hybrid in which different factors are confounded, such as justice motive, justification or self interest (cf. Montada, 1998a, 1998b). Using scales in which the normative, the perceptual, the motivational and the behavioural facets are disentangled might help us to gain more insight into the complex nature of justice motives and justice beliefs and to possibly arrive at rather different valuations.

References Albee, G. W. (1986). Toward a just society: Lessons from observations on the primary prevention of psychopathology. American Psychologist, 41, 891–898. Brandtst€adter, J. (1977). Normkritik als Voraussetzung p€adagogisch-psychologischer Praxis [Norm criticism as a basis for educational-psychological practice]. Trierer Psychologische Berichte, 4(1). Brandtst€adter, J. (1980). Vom Sein zum Sollen in der Theorie des Moralischen Urteils. Wege, Schleichwege, Irrwege [From is to ought in the theory of the moral judgment. Routes, rat runs, meanders]. In L. H. Eckensberger & R. K. Silbereisen (Eds.), Entwicklung sozialer Kognitionen: Modelle, Theorien, Methoden, Anwendungen (pp. 133–145). Stuttgart: KlettCotta. Brandtst€adter, J., & Montada, L. (1980). Normative Implikationen der Erziehungsstilforschung [Normative implications of research on edicational styles]. In K. A. Schneewind & T. Herrmann (Eds.), Erziehungsstilforschung. Theorien, Methoden und Anwendung der Sozialpsychologie elterlichen Erziehungsverhaltens (pp. 33–55). Bern: Huber. Connors, J., & Heaven, P. C. (1990). Belief in a just world and attitudes toward AIDS sufferers. Journal of Social Psychology, 130, 559–560. Dalbert, C. (1997). Coping with an unjust fate: The case of structural unemployment. Social Justice Research, 2, 175–189.


J. Maes et al.

Dalbert, C. (2001). The justice motive as a personal resource: Dealing with challenges and critical life events. New York: Plenum Press. Dalbert, C., & Katona-Sallay, H. (1996). The “belief in a just world” construct in Hungary. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 27, 293–314. Dalbert, C., & Maes, J. (2002). Belief in a just word as a personal resource in school. In M. Ross & D. T. Miller (Eds.), The justice motive in everyday life. New York: Cambridge University Press. Furnham, A. (2003a). Belief in a just world: Research progress over the past decade. Personality and Individual Differences, 34, 795–817. Furnham, A. (2003b). Just world beliefs are good for you. Contemporary Psychology, 48, 179–181. Furnham, A., & Procter, E. (1989). Belief in a just world: Review and critique of the individual difference literature. British Journal of Social Psychology, 28, 365–384. Glennon, F., & Joseph, S. (1993). Just world beliefs, self esteem, and attitudes towards homosexuals with AIDS. Psychological Reports, 72, 584–586. Hafer, C. L. (2000). Investment in long-term goals and commitment to just means drive the need to believe in a just world. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1059–1073. Hafer, C. L., & Be`gue, L. (2005). Experimental research on just-world theory: Problems, development and future challenges. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 128–167. Harper, D. J., & Manasse, P. R. (1992). The just world and the third world: British explanations for poverty abroad. Journal of Social Psychology, 132, 783–785. Johnson, C., & Dickinson, J. (1971). Class differences in derogation of an innocent victim. University of St. Xavier: Unpublished manuscript (quoted in: Lerner, Miller & Holmes, 1976). Jones, C., & Aronson, E. (1973). Attribution of fault to a rape victim as a function of respectability of the victim. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 26, 415–419. Kaiser, A., L€uken, A., Maes, J., & Winkels, R. (1994). Schulzeitverk€urzung – Auf der Suche nach dem bildungspolitischen Kompromiß [On shortening the school period – Searching for a compromise in educational politics]. Grundlagen der Weiterbildung. Zeitschrift f€ ur Weiterbildung und Bildungspolitik im In- und Ausland, 5, 219–223. Kleinke, C. L., & Meyer, C. (1990). Evaluation of rape victim by men and women with high and low belief in a just world. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 14, 343–353. Latta, R. M., Bernhardt, V. L., Hildebrand, P. K., & Kahn, A. S. (1974). Attraction to a Brandtst€adter, J. (1977). Normkritik als Voraussetzung p€adagogisch-psychologischer Praxis victim: Balance theory or “the just world”? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 1, 107–109. Lerner, M. J. (1965). Evaluation of performance as a function of performer’s reward and attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1, 355–360. Lerner, M. J. (1974). Social psychology of justice and interpersonal attraction. In T. Huston (Ed.), Foundations of interpersonal attraction (pp. 331–351). New York: Academic Press. Lerner, M. J. (1977). The justice motive in social behavior. Some hypotheses as to its origins and forms. Journal of Personality, 45, 1–52. Lerner, M. J. (1978). . . .but nobody liked the Indians. “Belief in a just world” versus a “Authoritarism” syndrome. Ethnicity, 5, 229–237. Lerner, M. J. (1980). The belief in a just world. A fundamental delusion. New York: Plenum Press. Lerner, M. J., & Miller, D. T. (1978). Just world research and the attribution process: Looking back and ahead. Psychological Bulletin, 85, 1030–1051. Lerner, M. J., Miller, D. T., & Holmes, J. G. (1976). Deserving and the emergence of forms of justice. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 9, pp. 133–162). New York: Academic Press. Lerner, M. J., & Simmons, C. H. (1966). The observer’s reaction to the “innocent victim”: Compassion or rejection? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 203–210. Lincoln, A., & Levinger, G. (1972). Observers’ evaluation of the victim and the attacker in an aggression incident. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 22, 202–210.

About Is and Ought in Research on Belief in a Just World


MacLean, M. J., & Chown, S. M. (1988). Just world beliefs and attitudes toward helping elderly people: A comparison of British and Canadian university students. International Journal of Aging & Human Development, 26, 249–260. Maes, J. (1997). Nicht-kognitive Pers€ onlichkeitsmerkmale [Non-cognitive personality traits]. In Ministerium f€ur Bildung, Wissenschaft und Weiterbildung Rheinland-Pfalz (Ed.), Entwicklung und Erprobung von Modellen der Begabtenf€ orderung am Gymnasium mit Verk€ urzung der Schulzeit. Abschlußbericht [Schulversuche und Bildungsforschung, 80] (pp. 89–102). Mainz: Hase & Koehler. Maes, J. (1998). Eight stages in the development of research on the construct of belief in a just world? In L. Montada & M. J. Lerner (Eds.), Responses to victimizations and belief in a just world (pp. 163–185). New York: Plenum. Maes, J. (2007). Gerechtigkeitsempfinden und das Lernen in der Weiterbildung [The sense of justice and learning in further education]. In A. Kaiser, R. Kaiser, & K.-H. Hohmann (Eds.), Lernertypen – Lernumgebung – Lernerfolg. Erwachsene im Lernfeld (pp. 60–80). Bielefeld: Bertelsmann Verlag. Maes, J., & Kals, E. (2002). Justice beliefs in school: Distinguishing ultimate and immanent justice. Social Justice Research, 15, 227–244. Maes, J., & Montada, L. (1989). Verantwortlichkeit f€ ur “Schicksalsschl€age”: Eine Pilotstudie [Responsibility for “strokes of fate”: A pilot study]. Psychologische Beitr€ age, 31, 107–124. Maes, J., & Tarnai, C. (2008). Implizite Wertungen in psychologischen Forschungsprogrammen: Das Doppelgesicht der Gerechte-Welt-Motivation [Implicit evaluations in psychological research programs: The two-faced character of just-world-motivation]. In E. Witte (Ed.), Sozialpsychologie und Werte (pp. 89–108). Lengerich: Pabst. McDonald, A. P. (1973). A time for introspection. Professional Psychology, 4, 35–42. McDonald, G. W. (1977). Innocent victim, deserved victim and martyr: Observers’ reactions. Psychological Reports, 41, 511–514. Montada, L. (1991). Life stress, injustice, and the question “who is responsible?”. In H. Steensma & R. Vermunt (Eds.), Social justice in human relations (Vol. 2, pp. 9–30). New York: Plenum Press. Montada, L. (1992). Attribution of responsibility for losses and perceived injustice. In L. Montada, S.-H. Filipp, & M. J. Lerner (Eds.), Life crises and the experience of loss in adulthood (pp. 133–161). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum. Montada, L. (1998a). Belief in a just world: A hybrid of justice motive and self-interest? In L. Montada & M. J. Lerner (Eds.), Responses to victimizations and belief in a just world (pp. 217–246). New York: Plenum. Montada, L. (1998b). Justice: Just a rational choice? Social Justice Research, 12, 81–101. Montada, L., & Schneider, A. (1989). Justice and emotional reactions to the disadvantaged. Social Justice Research, 3, 313–344. Montada, L., & Schneider, A. (1991). Justice and prosocial commitments. In L. Montada & H.-W. Bierhoff (Eds.), Altruism in social systems (pp. 58–81). G€ottingen: Hogrefe. Murphy-Berman, V., & Berman, J. J. (1990). The effect of respondents’ just world beliefs and target person’s social worth and awareness-of-risk on perceptions of a person with AIDS. Social Justice Research, 4, 215–228. Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Rubin, Z., & Peplau, L. A. (1973). Belief in a just world and reactions to another’s lot: A study of participants in the National Draft Lottery. Journal of Social Issues, 29(4), 73–93. Rubin, Z., & Peplau, L. A. (1975). Who believes in a just world? Journal of Social Issues, 31(3), 65–89. Ryan, W. (1971). Blaming the victim. New York: Pantheon. Simons, C., & Piliavin, J. A. (1972). The effect of deception on reactions to a victim. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 21, 56–60. Solomon, R. C. (1989). The emotions of justice. Social Justice Research, 3, 345–374.


J. Maes et al.

Stein, G. M. (1973). Children’s reactions to innocent victims. Child Development, 29, 73–93. Stokols, D., & Schopler, J. (1973). Reactions to victims under conditions of situational detachment: The effects of responsibility, severity, and expected future interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 14, 199–209. Tomaka, J., & Blascovich, J. (1994). Effects of justice beliefs on cognitive, psychological, and behavioral responses to potential stress. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 732–740. Wagstaff, G. F. (1982). Attitudes to rape: The just world “strikes again”? Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, 35, 277–279. Wagstaff, G. F. (1983). Correlates of the just world in Britain. Journal of Social Psychology, 121, 145–146. Zuckerman, M., & Gerbasi, K. C. (1977). Belief in a just word and trust. Journal of Research in Personality, 11, 306–317.

Justice Sensitivity as a Risk and Protective Factor in Social Conflicts Nadine Thomas, Anna Baumert, and Manfred Schmitt

Abstract Individuals differ in how readily they perceive and how strongly they react to injustice. These differences are consistent across types of injustice and are stable across time. Thus, these patterns are seen as a personality trait called justice sensitivity. This trait can be differentiated into four facets that match with corresponding roles individuals take on in a justice conflict: victim sensitivity, observer sensitivity, beneficiary sensitivity, and perpetrator sensitivity. Several studies have shown that observer, beneficiary, and perpetrator sensitivity are highly correlated with each other and only weakly correlated with victim sensitivity. Observer-, beneficiary-, and perpetrator-sensitive individuals seem to be primarily concerned with justice for others. In this sense, these sensitivities represent potential factors that help in constructive conflict resolution and in the prevention of conflict escalation. By contrast, victim-sensitive people seem to have a predominant interest in justice for themselves. Accordingly, several studies have shown that victim sensitivity promotes antisocial behavior. The antisocial behavior of victim-sensitive people seems to serve two functions: First, having suffered from innocent victimization previously, victim-sensitive individuals commit selfish behavior in order to balance their personal justice account. Second, in fear of being cheated, they engage in preventive strikes against those who might cheat them. Both of these motives and mechanisms are potential risks for social, organizational, and ecological conflicts.

Injustice and Its Consequences Justice principles play a dominant role in social interaction and are important for human well-being. For instance, they prescribe equal treatment of people, impartiality, and consideration of individual rights. These and other justice principles are

N. Thomas (*) • A. Baumert • M. Schmitt Department of Psychology, University of Koblenz-Landau, 76829 Landau, Germany e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_6, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



N. Thomas et al.

relevant when interests collide and in decision-making procedures (cf. Fetchenhauer, Goldschmidt, Hradil, & Liebig, 2010). The work context, for example, provides many such situations. Often enough, conflicts of interests occur between employer and employees, or decision-making processes may violate rules of fairness. The subjective violation of the principles of justice usually has immediate harmful consequences: Feelings of injustice have been shown to affect several important outcome variables, such as job satisfaction (e.g., Tremblay & Roussel, 2001), work behaviors (e.g., Jones, 2009), the number of sick days employees take (e.g., Schmitt & D€ orfel, 1999), and post-citizenship behavior (Schmitt, Rebele, Bennecke, & F€orster, 2008). Because of the personal, interpersonal, and societal importance of justice, scientific research in this area has a long history. Within sociology and psychology, several theories for the description and explanation of the feelings of injustice and their consequences have been proposed (e.g., Equity-Theory, Adams, 1965; Justice Motive Theory, Lerner, 1977). These theories assume that individuals are generally sensitive to inequity and that all individuals react equally with distress to over- or under-reward. Indeed, a large number of empirical studies that were inspired by these theories have shown that justice matters to virtually everyone. In addition, these studies have provided a detailed understanding of the causes and consequences of feelings of injustice (Crosby, 1982; Dalbert, 2001; Hafer & Be`gue, 2005; Lerner, 1980; Lind & Tyler, 1988; Montada & Lerner, 1998; Walker & Smith, 2002; Walster, Walster, & Berscheid, 1978). Although the desire for justice may be universal, it seems important to consider individual differences in justice judgment and behavior, too. Major and Deaux (1982), for instance, proposed that there are “a number of explanations . . . to account for individual differences . . . [for example] cognitive processes, such as differences in the perceptions of inputs and attributions of performance.” In line with this proposal, many justice studies have revealed that individuals differ in their perceptions of and reactions to observed, suffered, or committed injustices. Therefore, it seems valuable to focus on personality variables that may help us understand the consequences of perceived justice and injustice, such as job satisfaction or organizational citizenship behavior. More generally, individual differences may be able to account for the large proportions of variance of these and other justice-related behaviors that general justice theories cannot explain (cf. Schmitt et al., 2009). For some years now, some justice researchers have systematically examined individual differences in the feelings and behaviors that result from experiencing or witnessing injustice. Several personality constructs have been proposed to describe these individual differences, and have been included in justice theories. Huseman, Hatfield, and Miles (1987), for example, postulated individual differences in equity sensitivity and suggested “that reactions to equity/inequity are a function of an individual’s preferences for different outcome/input ratios” (p. 222). This idea has received considerable attention among justice researchers (e.g., Kickul, Gundry, & Posig, 2005; King, Miles, & Day, 1993; Patrick & Jackson, 1991). Rubin and Peplau (1975) proposed that people differ systematically in their belief in a just world and that these differences reflect differences in the strength of the justice

Justice Sensitivity as a Risk and Protective Factor in Social Conflicts


motive. No other personality construct has been included in as many social justice studies as the belief in a just world (cf. Furnham & Procter, 1989; Maes, 1998). In addition, Dar and Resh (2001) suggested that individuals differ systematically in their sense of deprivation, and that these differences are largely unrelated to objective differences in deprivation. Finally, Schmitt, Neumann, and Montada (1995) proposed the concept of justice sensitivity. They argue that (a) individuals differ in how readily they perceive injustice and how strongly they react to injustice, (b) these individual differences in the perceptions of and reactions to injustice are generalized across types of injustice, and (c) the differences are stable across time. Their data and subsequent studies have supported these assumptions (Schmitt, 1996; Schmitt, Baumert, Gollwitzer, & Maes, 2010; Schmitt, Gollwitzer, Maes, & Arbach, 2005). Regarding the origins and handling of social conflicts, the concept of justice sensitivity seems of particular importance. In the present context, research on justice sensitivity has provided knowledge about differential motives and mechanisms that play important roles in conflict escalation as well as resolution. In the next section, we describe the construct of justice sensitivity in more detail. After a short introduction to the basic indicators of the construct, we discuss why it is important not only to consider individual differences in justice sensitivity in general, but also to distinguish between several perspectives on injustices.

The Concept of Justice Sensitivity Indicators of Justice Sensitivity Justice sensitivity is assumed to include four psychological components, a perceptual component and three components concerning different kinds of reactions to injustice: Perception (1): It is assumed that persons high in justice sensitivity possess a low perceptual threshold for injustice compared to persons low in justice sensitivity, and therefore detect an injustice even if there are only a few and weak cues indicating this. The low perceptual threshold can be expected to cause more frequent incidents of injustice being perceived and reported. The assumed characteristic reactions toward perceived injustice are the following: Emotion (2): On the emotional level, strong reactions are indicative of persons high in justice sensitivity. For example, in the case of perceiving oneself as a victim of injustice, anger is the dominant emotion. Cognition (3): On the level of cognition, high justice sensitivity results in repetitive and intrusive thoughts about injustice (rumination). These thoughts recur in the absence of immediate environmental demands requiring the thoughts.


N. Thomas et al.

Motivation (4): On the level of motivation, persons high in justice sensitivity feel an urge to restore justice and show a willingness to act toward this goal.

The Different Perspectives of Justice Sensitivity Most justice episodes involve more than one person. Accordingly, people can take different roles in the situation or different perspectives on the incident (Mikula, 1993). The victim is the person who feels unjustly treated, the perpetrator is the one who committed the critical action, and the observer is any person who perceives the incident without being directly involved. Moreover, there could be a passive beneficiary of the injustice (Gollwitzer, Schmitt, Schalke, Maes, & Baer, 2005). As research has shown, the experience of and the response to injustice differ depending on the perspective one takes in relation to the event (e.g., Mikula, 1993). Accordingly, it seems reasonable to differentiate justice sensitivity into four facets: victim, observer, beneficiary, and perpetrator sensitivity (Gollwitzer et al., 2005; Schmitt et al., 2009). Several studies have addressed the specificity of the perspectives of justice sensitivity and have shown that the assumed four facets can be empirically distinguished and measured reliably by short and valid scales (Schmitt, 2005; Schmitt et al., 2010). Although different facets of justice sensitivity can be discriminated reliably, they are positively correlated. The size of the correlations ranges from .30 to .80 (Schmitt et al., 2010). This pattern leads to the conclusion that the different justice sensitivities share a concern for justice as a common element. It is assumed that this common element is reflected mainly in two of the four components of justice sensitivity that were described earlier: the low perceptual threshold for and the tendency to ruminate about injustice (Schmitt et al., 2010). The two other components of justice sensitivity – emotional reactions and behavioral tendencies – may explain the remaining unique element of each sensitivity facet. Both emotion and behavior differ depending on the facet of justice sensitivity they indicate. These differences explain why the justice sensitivity facets are not correlated perfectly and why the sizes of the correlations among the facets differ systematically. Specifically, observer, beneficiary, and perpetrator sensitivity are more closely related, whereas victim sensitivity is more distinct from the other sensitivities. This raises important questions: What makes victim sensitivity specific in comparison to observer, beneficiary, and perpetrator sensitivity? Which specific emotions and behavior set observer, beneficiary, and perpetrator sensitivity apart from victim sensitivity? In the next sections, we shed light on the differences and similarities of each facet of justice sensitivity. We will first discuss the role of emotions and then look at the kinds of behaviors that are associated with the different facets. These analyses will show why a differentiation of the sensitivity facets is important for understanding, preventing, and solving social conflicts.

Justice Sensitivity as a Risk and Protective Factor in Social Conflicts


Justice Sensitivity and (Moral) Emotions Perceived injustice plays a crucial role in eliciting negative emotions (Mikula, Scherer, & Athenstaedt, 1998). However, depending on the perspective taken on an unjust event, different distinct negative emotions can be expected. Accordingly, it is assumed that each facet of justice sensitivity involves the proneness for a distinct negative emotion (i.e., anger, guilt, outrage; Schmitt et al., 2010). Viewing these discrete emotions instead of diffuse negative affect has the advantage of allowing rather precise behavioral predictions (Weiss, Suckow, & Cropanzano, 1999; Zeelenberg, Nelissen, Breugelmans, & Pieters, 2008). Although anger and guilt, for example, are negative emotions, anger is correlated with aggression (e.g., Baron & Richardson, 1994), whereas guilt is not. Guilt, on the other hand, can arouse feelings of helpfulness in a way that anger does not (e.g., Cunningham, Steinberg, & Grev, 1980). Depending on the facet of justice sensitivity, the following different discrete emotions are assumed and to some extent confirmed empirically.

Observer Sensitivity It has been proposed that observers react to injustice with moral outrage. Mikula (1986) showed in a study with retrospective descriptions of justice episodes that, indeed, outrage is the most typical emotional reaction to observed injustice. Empirical support for the link between observer sensitivity and moral outrage was found in a study on civil courage (Krettek, 2007). In this vignette study, moral outrage was identified as a crucial mediator between observer sensitivity and civil courage.

Beneficiary Sensitivity A second emotion in response to experienced injustice is guilt (Mikula et al., 1998). Feelings of guilt are characteristic of people who profit from subjectively illegitimate advantages. In other words, guilt is a typical reaction to being the beneficiary of unfairness. Because beneficiaries do not actively create an injustice but rather benefit from an injustice that was caused by someone else or evolved historically, the kind of guilt that is typical for beneficiaries has been coined existential guilt (Hoffman, 1976; Montada, 1993; Montada, Dalbert, Reichle, & Schmitt, 1986). Accordingly, existential guilt is considered to be an appropriate indicator of beneficiary sensitivity. A study by Gollwitzer and colleagues (2005) found empirical support for this proposal. In their study, participants were shown photographs of objectively unattractive target persons. They were told that due to the unattractiveness, which was a result of an unfortunate accident, surgery, or unpleasant


N. Thomas et al.

dermatological disease, the target persons had been experiencing job-related and social disadvantages. The authors found a positive correlation between beneficiary sensitivity and existential guilt experienced with respect to these target persons.

Perpetrator Sensitivity Guilt is not only the predominant emotion of sensitive beneficiaries, but also the relevant emotion of perpetrators (Klass, 1978). Unlike existential guilt that results from benefitting passively from the wrongdoing of another person or from an unjust fate, perpetrator guilt is guilt in reaction to active wrongdoing. It has therefore been called action guilt (Hoffman, 1984). However, to date, no study has shown that action guilt indeed mediates the effects of perpetrator sensitivity on behavior aimed at restoring justice after having actively violated justice at the expense of an innocent victim.

Victim Sensitivity Several studies have identified anger as the most typical reaction of victims of injustice (Mikula, 1986; Scherer, Wallbott, & Summerfield, 1986). Accordingly, anger is expected to be the major emotion indicating victim sensitivity. This assumption was supported in a study in which participants were treated unfairly on purpose. The more victim-sensitive a participant was, the more s/he reacted with anger (Mohiyeddini & Schmitt, 1997). However, this pattern of anger reaction could not be replicated in a study that employed a real-life disadvantage (Schmitt & Mohiyeddini, 1996). In summary, regarding the characteristic emotional responses of the facets of justice sensitivity, there is a clear similarity between the beneficiary and the perpetrator perspectives (both sensitivities involve stronger guilt reactions). Furthermore, there appears to be an overlap between the observer and the victim perspectives because both sensitivities induce outward-focused emotions (moral outrage and anger) as reactions to unfairness. Although at first glance these emotions seem similar, they ought to be differentiated (Montada & Schneider, 1989). Moral outrage and anger are evoked – like existential guilt and action guilt – by different views of an unjust event. More precisely, “they are evoked by different cognitive appraisals of the situation” (Batson et al., 2007, p. 1273). Whereas the appraisal eliciting moral outrage is that a moral standard or principle has been violated, the appraisal evoking anger (so-called personal anger; Batson et al., 2007) necessitates that a person’s own interests are perceived as threatened. Next, we will discuss the behavioral consequences of the emotional reactions that are typical for the facets of justice sensitivity. The focus of our analysis will be on pro- and

Justice Sensitivity as a Risk and Protective Factor in Social Conflicts


antisocial behavior relevant for the outset, perpetuation, and escalation of social conflict as well as for its constructive resolution.

Justice Sensitivity and Pro- Versus Antisocial Behavior In many justice theories, the emotional responses to the perception of injustice (see above) are seen as crucially involved in motivating acts to restore justice. For instance, equity theory suggests that the perception of injustice leads to a negative emotional state of distress that, in turn, motivates the redressing of equity (Adams, 1965; Walster et al., 1978). Similarly, for justice sensitivity, emotions are thought to be mediators between perceptions of injustice and behavior that is aimed at restoring justice. Because each sensitivity facet is related to a different emotional reaction to injustice, it is assumed that they result in distinct action tendencies directed at restoring justice. For example, whereas moral outrage is assumed to drive intentions to re-establish and reaffirm moral standards either by compensating victims or by punishing violators of moral standards (e.g., Darley & Pittman, 2003), anger should result in retaliation and in the promotion of one’s own interests (Batson et al., 2007). In the following section, the assumptions about the behavioral tendencies involved in each sensitivity facet will be described (summarized in Table 1), and an overview of relevant empirical results will be given. Most of these studies tested only direct correlations between justice sensitivity and behavior or behavioral intentions without including a test of the mediating role of the distinct emotions. Thus, providing evidence for the proposed mediation model remains as a challenge for future research.

Observer Sensitivity From the observer perspective, morally appropriate reactions to injustice are punishing the perpetrator and/or compensating the victim (e.g., Montada & Schneider, 1989). Several studies have shown that observer sensitivity is related to these two kinds of reactions to injustice. In social dilemma games, such as the ultimatum game, observer sensitivity was found to correlate with the likelihood of Table 1 Justice sensitivity facets and their relevant emotional and behavioral components Sensitivity Emotion Urge to restore justice Victim Anger Punish perpetrator Observer Moral outrage Punish perpetrator/compensate victim Beneficiary (Existential) guilt Compensate victim/punish self Perpetrator (Action) guilt Compensate victim/punish self


N. Thomas et al.

intervening against those who act unfairly. Furthermore, observer-sensitive persons were willing to spend their own money if they could thereby prevent a third unknown person from being exploited (e.g., Fetchenhauer & Huang, 2004; Schmitt et al., 2009). Finally, as mentioned earlier, in a vignette study, observer sensitivity correlated with self-reported willingness to display civil courage (Krettek, 2007).

Beneficiary Sensitivity Research on the emotions and behavior of people who are privileged compared to disadvantaged others has shown that those who consider their advantages to be undeserved react with feelings of (existential) guilt and are willing to help the disadvantaged. Because help implies costs, this behavior implies sacrificing one’s own advantages for the benefit of those who are needy (Montada et al., 1986; Montada & Schneider, 1989, 1991; Schmitt, Behner, Montada, M€uller, & M€ullerFohrbrodt, 2000). Accordingly, it can be expected that beneficiary sensitivity is related to a person’s willingness to compensate a victim, and in addition, to selfsacrificing behavior or even self-punishment (Nelissen & Zeelenberg, 2009). Empirical studies have investigated mainly the first assumption. The results of social dilemma games have shown a pattern similar to the one found for observer sensitivity (see above). Other studies have analyzed reactions in real-life settings, for instance, the reactions of West Germans to the fate of East Germans who have been historically disadvantaged compared to West Germans. Another study investigated the reactions of physically attractive people to the bad fate of physically unattractive people (see above). These studies consistently found that beneficiary sensitivity predicted compassionate reactions toward the disadvantaged groups (Gollwitzer et al., 2005). Furthermore, beneficiary sensitivity significantly predicted courageous bystander interventions (civil courage) in a real-life situation (Baumert, Halmburger, & Schmitt, 2010).

Perpetrator Sensitivity Similar to the beneficiary who feels existential guilt over undeserved privileges, a perpetrator experiences action guilt over his or her own morally wrong behavior. Accordingly, it is assumed that the behavioral tendencies involved in perpetrator sensitivity are similar to those of beneficiary sensitivity. People who feel guilty over having victimized another person try to compensate their victim(s) (Klass, 1978) or they attempt to repair the wrongdoing by helping others (de Hooge, Zeelenberg, & Breugelmans, 2007; Ketelaar & Au, 2003). Furthermore, if there is no opportunity to compensate the victim, people who feel guilty may punish themselves in reaction to the unfair advantage that caused them to feel guilty (Nelissen & Zeelenberg, 2009). In anticipation of feeling guilty, persons high in perpetrator sensitivity may

Justice Sensitivity as a Risk and Protective Factor in Social Conflicts


be particularly reluctant to commit potential violations of justice (cf. Bandura, 1991). No study has yet tested the proposed link between perpetrator sensitivity and compensation/cooperation and/or self-punishment. Testing this link will be a task of future studies.

Victim Sensitivity A characteristic of victims is the pursuit of revenge on the people who harmed them. By punishing the perpetrator, they aim to restore justice and reinstate the balance that was disrupted (Miller, 2001; Schmitt & Maes, 2006; Vidmar 2000, 2002). This action tendency is driven by anger (Haidt, 2003). Accordingly, it can be expected that victim sensitivity is related to vengeful and retributive behavior. In line with this prediction, several studies have shown that persons high in victim sensitivity protest more strongly than persons low in victim sensitivity when they are treated unfairly (Mohiyeddini & Schmitt, 1997; Schmitt, 1996; Schmitt & Mohiyeddini, 1996). Moreover, studies in the workplace context found that persons high in victim sensitivity seek indirect revenge in response to unjust treatment by defecting against rules, by using a large numbers of sick days, or by being disloyal to their employer (Schmitt & D€ orfel, 1999; Schmitt et al., 2008). However, recent studies have shown that the action tendencies of victim-sensitive persons are not exclusively directed toward a perpetrator who did them an injustice. Rather, victim sensitivity seems to promote selfish behavior even in situations in which the victim-sensitive person was not harmed (Gollwitzer et al., 2005). In enticing situations of social dilemma games, for instance, victim sensitivity was found to correlate positively with immoral choices (Gollwitzer et al., 2005). In the dictator game, victim-sensitive players tended to make unfair offers when they had the power to distribute money between themselves and another person who had no power (Fetchenhauer & Huang, 2004; Lotz, Okimoto, Schl€osser, & Fetchenhauer, 2011). Another study revealed that the selfish tendencies of victim-sensitive people (here, reduced willingness to cooperate) are not necessarily directed against a certain person (the perpetrator), but are rather directed against any (potentially threatening) person. Moreover, these antisocial action tendencies of persons high in victim sensitivity seem to be triggered by subtle cues that hint at a potential victimization (Gollwitzer, Rothmund, Pfeiffer, & Ensenbach, 2009). In the study that revealed these findings, participants played a public goods game1 and were informed about the number of people who had violated a fairness rule in previous rounds of the game. The number of violators in these previous rounds was varied experimentally. It was found that highly victim-sensitive people contributed


The social dilemma situation employed in this study (Gollwitzer et al., 2009) is an experimental game that requires participants to choose between cooperative and non-cooperative alternatives, yielding positive consequences for themselves and/or others.


N. Thomas et al.

less money to a public fund than did players who were either low on victim sensitivity or high on observer sensitivity. This difference existed even in the condition with few violators. Taken together, previous research on the links between justice sensitivity and behavior has shown that, depending on the respective facet, justice sensitivity can be related to either prosocial or antisocial behavior. More specifically, observer, beneficiary, and perpetrator sensitivity are positively related to cooperative and prosocial behavior such as civil courage. By contrast, victim sensitivity promotes antisocial and egoistic behavior. This pattern of results calls for a detailed analysis because, at first glance, it seems to contradict the positive correlations typically found between victim sensitivity and the other justice sensitivity facets. However, this seeming contradiction can be resolved if the correlation is understood as reflecting a common concern for justice. But why then does victim sensitivity correlate with antisocial behavior that is not directed against a certain perpetrator? Why are victim-sensitive people selfish? Following Gollwitzer and Rothmund (2009), the mediating emotion involved in victim sensitivity, which translates the perception of potential injustice into uncooperative or egoistic behavior, is not only anger (as a specific emotion directed toward the perpetrator). Additionally, Gollwitzer and Rothmund considered the fear of being exploited or cheated. (Interestingly, this emotion is not directed toward a particular person but is experienced with respect to interaction partners in general.) In other words, the antisocial behavior of victim-sensitive people seems to serve two functions: First, having suffered from innocent victimization previously, victim-sensitive individuals engage in self-serving behavior in order to balance their personal justice account. Second, fear of being cheated or exploited results in preventive strikes against those who might cheat them.

Justice Sensitivity and Prosocial Versus Self-Serving Attitudes As described in the previous paragraphs, observer, beneficiary, and perpetrator sensitivity seem to reflect a genuine concern for the justice of others, whereas victim sensitivity includes a concern for justice for the self. These ideas are also in line with results from studies that looked at the correlations between the justice sensitivity facets and prosocial versus selfish attitudes or dispositions. For instance, observer, beneficiary, and perpetrator sensitivity have been found to correlate with two facets of the agreeableness domain of the big five model (e.g., De Raad, 2000): modesty and tender-mindedness (Schmitt et al., 2010). Furthermore, a previous study revealed observer and beneficiary sensitivity to be significantly correlated with socially desirable traits such as empathy, role taking, and social responsibility (Schmitt et al., 2005). By contrast, victim sensitivity was found to correlate positively with self-related concerns such as jealousy, neuroticism, vengeance, and paranoia (Gollwitzer et al., 2005; Schmitt et al., 2010).

Justice Sensitivity as a Risk and Protective Factor in Social Conflicts


Conclusion and Outlook Justice sensitivity is a personality trait that captures how readily individuals perceive and how strongly they react to injustice. This trait has been differentiated into four facets that match with corresponding roles an individual can take in a justice conflict: victim sensitivity, observer sensitivity, beneficiary sensitivity, and perpetrator sensitivity. Each perspective evokes specific emotional and behavioral reactions toward injustice. For instance, people who are sensitive from an observer perspective react to perceived injustice with moral outrage and with the urge to punish the perpetrator and/or to compensate the victim to restore justice. However, whereas observer-, beneficiary-, and perpetrator-sensitive individuals share a genuine concern for justice, victim-sensitive people have a self-related concern for justice. Some people are interested in justice for all, but others, especially victimsensitive people, are predominantly oriented toward justice for themselves. If we transfer the knowledge about the emotions and behaviors connected to the different justice sensitivity facets to social, organizational, and ecological conflicts, we can expect that observer, beneficiary, and perpetrator sensitivity are protective factors in such conflicts. People high in these sensitivities readily detect potential injustice and react with a willingness to restore justice even at their own expense. Victim sensitivity, by contrast, must be seen as a potential risk factor. Victim sensitivity poses a potential risk in social interactions because people high in victim sensitivity readily get the feeling of being unjustly treated and, most importantly, react more strongly with antisocial behavior toward perceived injustice than persons low in victim sensitivity or high in observer, beneficiary, and perpetrator sensitivity.

References Adams, J. S. (1965). Inequity in social exchange. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 267–299). New York: Academic Press. Bandura, A. (1991). Social cognitive theory of self-regulation. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 248–287. Baron, R. A., & Richardson, D. R. (1994). Human aggression (2nd ed.). New York: Plenum Press. Batson, C. D., Kennedy, C. L., Nord, L.-A., Stocks, E. L., Fleming, D. Y. A., Marzette, C. M., et al. (2007). Anger at unfairness: Is it moral outrage? European Journal of Social Psychology, 37(6), 1272–1285. Baumert, A., Halmburger, A., & Schmitt, M. (2010). Determinants of civil courage: Personality and emotion. Unpublished manuscript. Crosby, F. (1982). Relative deprivation and working women. New York: Oxford University Press. Cunningham, M. R., Steinberg, J., & Grev, R. (1980). Wanting to and having to help: Separate motivations for positive mood and guilt-induced helping. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38(2), 181–192. Dalbert, C. (2001). The justice motive as a personal resource. New York: Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Publishers.


N. Thomas et al.

Dar, Y., & Resh, N. (2001). Exploring the multifaceted structure of sense of deprivation. European Journal of Social Psychology, 31, 63–81. Darley, J. M., & Pittman, T. S. (2003). The psychology of compensatory and retributive justice. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 7(4), 324–336. de Hooge, I. E., Zeelenberg, M., & Breugelmans, S. M. (2007). Moral sentiments and cooperation: Differential influences of shame and guilt. Cognition and Emotion, 21, 1025–1042. De Raad, B. (2000). The big five personality factors. Seattle: Hogrefe & Huber. Fetchenhauer, D., Goldschmidt, N., Hradil, S., & Liebig, S. (2010). Warum ist Gerechtigkeit wichtig? Antworten der empirischen Gerechtigkeitsforschung [Why justice is important? Answers of empirical justice research]. M€ unchen: Roman-Herzog-Institut. Fetchenhauer, D., & Huang, X. (2004). Justice sensitivity and distributive decisions in experimental games. Personality and Individual Differences, 36(5), 1015–1029. Furnham, A., & Procter, E. (1989). Belief in a just world: Review and critique of the individual difference literature. British Journal of Social Psychology, 28, 365–384. Gollwitzer, M., & Rothmund, T. (2009). When the need to trust results in unethical behavior: The sensitivity to mean intentions (SeMI) model. In D. De Cremer (Ed.), Psychological perspectives on ethical behavior and decision making (pp. 135–152). Charlotte: Information Age Publishing. Gollwitzer, M., Rothmund, T., Pfeiffer, A., & Ensenbach, C. (2009). Why and when justice sensitivity leads to pro- and antisocial behavior. Journal of Research in Personality, 43(6), 999–1005. Gollwitzer, M., Schmitt, M., Schalke, R., Maes, J., & Baer, A. (2005). Asymmetrical effects of justice sensitivity perspectives on prosocial and antisocial behavior. Social Justice Research, 18(2), 183–201. Hafer, C. L., & Be`gue, L. (2005). Experimental research on just-world theory: Problems, development, and future challenges. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 128–167. Haidt, J. (2003). The moral emotions. In R. J. Davidson, K. R. Scherer, & H. H. Goldsmith (Eds.), Handbook of affective sciences (pp. 852–870). New York: Oxford University Press. Hoffman, M. L. (1976). Empathy, role-taking, guilt, and development of altruistic motives. In T. Lickona (Ed.), Moral development: Current theory and research (pp. 124–143). New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston. Hoffman, M. L. (1984). Empathy, its limitations, and its role in a comprehensive moral theory. In W. M. Kurtines & J. L. Gewirtz (Eds.), Morality, moral behavior, and moral development (pp. 283–302). New York: Wiley. Huseman, R. C., Hatfield, J. D., & Miles, E. W. (1987). A new perspective on equity theory: The equity sensitivity construct. The Academy of Management Review, 12(2), 222–234. Jones, D. A. (2009). Getting even with one’s supervisor and one’s organization: Relationships among types of injustice, desires for revenge, and counterproductive work behaviors. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30(4), 525–542. Ketelaar, T., & Au, W. T. (2003). The effects of feelings of guilt on the behaviour of uncooperative individuals in repeated social bargaining games: An affect-as-information interpretation of the role of emotion in social interaction. Cognition and Emotion, 17(3), 429–453. Kickul, L. K., Gundry, L. K., & Posig, M. (2005). Does trust matter? The relationship between equity sensitivity and perceived organizational justice. Journal of Business Ethics, 56(3), 205–218. King, W. C., Miles, E. W., & Day, D. D. (1993). A test and refinement of the equity sensitivity construct. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 14(4), 301–317. Klass, E. T. (1978). Psychological effects of immoral actions: The experimental evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 85(4), 756–771. Krettek, C. (2007). Sensibilit€ at f€ ur beobachtete Ungerechtigkeit und ihr Einfluss auf die Bereitschaft zu zivilcouragiertem Verhalten [Justice Sensitivity from observer perspective and the influcence on the willingness to display civil courage]. Unpublished Diploma thesis, University of Koblenz-Landau, Landau, Germany.

Justice Sensitivity as a Risk and Protective Factor in Social Conflicts


Lerner, M. J. (1977). The justice motive in social behavior. Some hypotheses as to its origins and forms. Journal of Personality, 45, 1–52. Lerner, M. J. (1980). The belief in a just world. A fundamental delusion. New York: Plenum Press. Lind, A. E., & Tyler, T. R. (1988). The social psychology of procedural justice. New York: Plenum Press. Lotz, S., Okimoto, T. G., Schl€ osser, T., & Fetchenhauer, D. (2011). Punitive versus compensatory reactions to injustice: Emotional antecedents to third-party interventions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 477. Maes, J. (1998). Eight stages in the development of research on the construct of belief in a just world. In L. Montada & M. J. Lerner (Eds.), Responses to victimizations and belief in a just world (pp. 163–186). New York: Plenum. Major, B., & Deaux, K. (1982). Individual differences in justice behavior. In J. Greenberg & R. L. Cohen (Eds.), Equity and justice in social behavior (pp. 43–76). New York: Academic Press. Mikula, G. (1986). The experience of injustice: Towards a better understanding of its phemenology. In H.-W. Bierhoff, R. L. Cohen, & J. Greenberg (Eds.), Justice in interpersonal relations (pp. 103–124). New York: Plenum Press. Mikula, G. (1993). On the experience of injustice. In W. Stroebe & M. Hewstone (Eds.), European review of social psychology (Vol. 4, pp. 223–244). Chichester: Wiley. Mikula, G., Scherer, K. R., & Athenstaedt, U. (1998). The role of injustice in the elicitation of differential emotional reactions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24(7), 769–783. Miller, D. T. (2001). Disrespect and the experience of injustice. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 527–553. Mohiyeddini, C., & Schmitt, M. (1997). Sensitivity to befallen injustice and reactions to unfair treatment in a laboratory situation. Social Justice Research, 10(3), 333–353. Montada, L. (1993). Understanding oughts by assessing moral reasoning or moral emotions. In G. G. Noam, T. E. Wren, G. Nunner-Winkler, & W. Edelstein (Eds.), The moral self (pp. 292–309). Cambridge: MIT Press. Montada, L., Dalbert, C., Reichle, B., & Schmitt, M. (1986). Urteile €uber Gerechtigkeit, “existentielle Schuld” und Strategien der Schuldabwehr [Judgments on justice, existential guilt, and defense mechanisms against guilt]. In F. Oser, W. Althof, & D. Garz (Eds.), Moralische Zug€ ange zum Menschen - Zug€ ange zum moralischen Menschen. Beitr€ age zur Entstehung moralischer Identit€ at (Montada, L., Dalbert, C., Reichle, B, pp. 205–225). M€unchen: Kindt. Montada, L., & Lerner, M. (1998). Responses to victimizations and belief in a just world. New York: Plenum Press. Montada, L., & Schneider, A. (1989). Justice and emotional reactions to the disadvantaged. Social Justice Research, 3(4), 313–344. Montada, L., & Schneider, A. (1991). Justice and prosocial commitments. In L. Montada & H.-W. Bierhoff (Eds.), Altruism in social systems (pp. 58–81). G€ottingen: Hogrefe. Nelissen, R. M. A., & Zeelenberg, M. (2009). When guilt evokes self-punishment: Evidence for the existence of a Dobby Effect. Emotion, 9(1), 118–122. Patrick, S. L., & Jackson, J. J. (1991). Further examination of the equity sensitivity construct. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 73, 1091–1106. Rubin, Z., & Peplau, L. A. (1975). Who beliefes in a just world? Journal of Social Issues, 31(3), 65–89. Scherer, K. R., Wallbott, H. G., & Summerfield, A. B. (1986). Experiencing emotion: A crosscultural study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Schmitt, M. (1996). Individual differences in sensitivity to befallen injustice (SBI). Personality and Individual Differences, 21(1), 3–20. Schmitt, M., Baumert, A., Fetchenhauer, D., Gollwitzer, M., Rothmund, T., & Schl€osser, T. (2009). Sensibilit€at f€ ur Ungerechtigkeit [Sensitivity to injustice]. Psychologische Rundschau, 60(1), 8–22.


N. Thomas et al.

Schmitt, M., Baumert, A., Gollwitzer, M., & Maes, J. (2010). The Justice Sensitivity Inventory: Factorial validity, location in the personality facet space, demographic pattern, and normative data. Social Justice Research, 23, 211–238. Schmitt, M., Behner, R., Montada, L., M€ uller, L., & M€uller-Fohrbrodt, G. (2000). Gender, ethnicity, and education as privileges: Exploring the generalizability of the existential guilt reaction. Social Justice Research, 13, 313–337. Schmitt, M., & D€orfel, M. (1999). Procedural injustice at work, justice sensitivity, job satisfaction and psychosomatic well-being. European Journal of Social Psychology, 29(4), 443–453. Schmitt, M., Gollwitzer, M., Maes, J., & Arbach, D. (2005). Justice sensitivity: Assessment and location in the personality space. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 21(3), 202–211. Schmitt, M., & Maes, J. (2006). Equity and justice. In J. Bryant & P. Vorderer (Eds.), Psychology of entertainment (pp. 273–289). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Schmitt, M., & Mohiyeddini, C. (1996). Sensitivity to befallen injustice and reactions to a real-life disadvantage. Social Justice Research, 9(3), 223–238. Schmitt, M., Neumann, R., & Montada, L. (1995). Dispositional sensitivity to befallen injustice. Social Justice Research, 8(4), 385–407. Schmitt, M., Rebele, J., Bennecke, J., & F€ orster, N. (2008). Ungerechtigkeitssensibilit€at, K€undigungsgerechtigkeit und Verantwortlichkeitszuschreibungen als Korrelate von Einstellungen und Verhalten Gek€ undigter gegen€ uber ihrem fr€uheren Arbeitgeber (Post Citizenship Behavior) [Justice sensitivity, justice of layoff decisions, and responsibility attributions as correlates of attitudes toward the former employer (postlayoff reactions)]. Wirtschaftspsychologie, 2, 101–111. Tremblay, M., & Roussel, P. (2001). Modelling the role of organizational justice: effects on satisfaction and unionization propensity of Canadian. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 12, 717–737. Vidmar, N. (2000). Retribution and revenge. In J. Sanders & V. L. Hamilton (Eds.), Handbook of justice research in law (pp. 31–63). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. Vidmar, N. (2002). Retributive justice: Its social context. In M. Ross & D. T. Miller (Eds.), The justice motive in everyday life (pp. 291–313). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Walker, I., & Smith, H. (2002). Relative deprivation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Walster, E., Walster, G. W., & Berscheid, E. (1978). Equity: Theory and research. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Weiss, H. M., Suckow, K., & Cropanzano, R. (1999). Effects of justice conditions on discrete emotions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84(5), 786–794. Zeelenberg, M., Nelissen, R. M. A., Breugelmans, S. M., & Pieters, R. (2008). On emotion specificity in decision making: Why feeling is for doing. Judgment and Decision Making, 3(1), 18–27.

Suspicions of Injustice: The Sense-Making Function of Belief in Conspiracy Theories Jan-Willem van Prooijen

Abstract In contemporary society, people are frequently faced with threats to the social order (e.g., terrorist attacks). These threats often give rise to belief in conspiracy theories, which assume such events to be injustices that were secretly and deliberately planned by legitimate authorities or institutions. In the present chapter I propose that conspiracy beliefs are functional for basic sense-making desires when faced with events that threaten the social order. Recent findings indicate that contextual and personal factors that are likely to elicit sense-making activities (e.g., lacking control, feelings of uncertainty, high need for structure) increase the association between the perceived morality of institutions and conspiracy beliefs. Furthermore, additional findings reveal that an underlying mechanism why sense-making activities may lead to conspiracy beliefs is that people tend to attribute big causes to big events. To illuminate practical implications I connect these insights to knowledge on procedural justice, and reason that adhering to procedural justice principles may help to decrease conspiracy beliefs.

In modern life, people increasingly display signs of distrust and suspiciousness towards the actions of power holders, such as politicians, corporate managers, and other legitimate decision-makers. Particularly following events that threaten the social order (e.g., terrorist attacks, wars, economic crises, the unexpected death of a celebrity), people often show a tendency to believe that these events were in fact injustices that were secretly and deliberately planned and executed by legitimate decision-makers. These somewhat paranoid ideas are commonly referred to as belief in conspiracy theories (Pipes, 1997; Robins & Post, 1997). The Internet is filled with examples of conspiracy theories assuming, for instance, that the 9–11 terrorist strikes were conducted by the Bush administration; that Princess Diana was

J.-W. van Prooijen (*) Department of Social Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_7, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



J.-W. van Prooijen

assassinated by the British secret service; and that the war in Iraq was induced by a lobby of powerful western oil companies. But also on a smaller scale conspiracy theories frequently occur, such as in organizations where employees sometimes may be suspicious that decisions with detrimental consequences for many employees (e.g., corporate downsizing) were made by managers for the sole purpose of serving their own self interests. Conspiracy theories often are somewhat far-fetched but yet potentially persistent ideas that may produce strongly aversive emotions. If shared by many people, belief in conspiracy theories may have detrimental consequences, such as collective action, riots, and exclusion of certain individuals or groups. Despite this pervasiveness and impact of conspiracy theories in contemporary society, the psychological origins of these beliefs are as yet poorly understood. In the present chapter, I seek to examine the social-psychological origins of people’s susceptibility to conspiracy beliefs. My basic line of reasoning is rooted in the proposition that belief in conspiracy theories is functional for basic sense-making processes. In particular, threats to the social order are likely to disrupt people’s orderly worldview, resulting in perceptual chaos, feelings of distress, and a need to make sense of the event. One possible way to make sense of a threat to the social order is to believe that it was intentionally planned by a malevolent conspiracy. After all, conspiracy theories answer questions about, for instance, blameworthiness, intentionality, and the exact factors that are relevant to understand how a specific threat to the social order emerged. Moreover, conspiracy theories usually impose blame on identifiable authorities or institutions. It has been noted that, paradoxically, identifying specific enemies as responsible for a threat to the social order is more effective in reducing distress than admitting the role of uncontrollable factors and randomness, because people can understand, and often anticipate on, the actions of a recognizable immoral agent (Sullivan, Landau & Rothschild, 2010). The more specific goals of the present chapter are twofold. The first goal is to develop a theoretical background that illuminates the sense-making function of belief in conspiracy theories. To this end, I review studies that investigated people’s susceptibility to conspiracy beliefs as a function of factors that are known to stimulate people’s sense-making activities (e.g., lacking control, uncertainty). In addition, I will address the question why it can be psychologically unsatisfactory for people to accept the official – and, usually, more parsimonious – explanation for a threat to the social order as a means of making sense of the event (e.g., the 9–11 terrorist strikes were committed by 19 Al Qaeda suicide terrorists, Princess Diana died in a car accident). The second goal is to discuss practical implications: What can decision-makers do to decrease belief in conspiracy theories? Based on insights from the procedural justice domain, I will make the case that adhering to procedural justice principles (e.g., transparency, voice) is likely to reduce such paranoid beliefs through the propensity of fair decision-making procedures to ameliorate the trust that people accord to decision-makers.

Suspicions of Injustice: The Sense-Making Function of Belief in Conspiracy Theories


The Sense-Making Function of Belief in Conspiracy Theories People are continuously trying to make sense of the world that they live in, which is characterized by ongoing cognitive efforts to make the world more understandable and predictable. People mentally classify stimuli (e.g., objects, other people) into meaningful categories to assess their features and capabilities, and look for relations between the self, objects, other people, and situations to understand their purpose. These efforts lead to a psychologically and socially constructed perception of an environment that seems orderly, understandable, and predictable (Heine, Proulx & Vohs, 2006). It has been noted that these sense-making activities increase under circumstances that are either stressful or otherwise challenge one’s mental framework for understanding the world (e.g., Park & Folkman, 1997). One typical factor that has been recognized as predictive of people’s need to make sense of social events is the extent to which they experience subjective uncertainty, for instance about themselves or about their social environment. Uncertainty is often experienced as aversive because it is associated with reduced control over one’s life (Van den Bos & Lind, 2002). As such, uncertainty – and the associated feeling of lacking control – makes people more concerned about factors that help them mentally organize their perceptions by providing meaning and structure to the world. If we combine these theoretical insights with the proposition that conspiracy beliefs are functional for such sense-making purposes following a threat to the social order, it can be inferred that people are particularly susceptible to conspiracy beliefs under conditions wherein they are uncertain or lack control. In the following, I review studies that examined this hypothesis.

Uncertainty, Control, and Conspiracy Beliefs Preliminary support for the idea that sense-making activities, elicited by inducing a lack of control, lead to increased conspiracy beliefs was obtained by Whitson and Galinsky (2008). These authors reasoned that lacking control would increase illusory pattern perception, which is defined as identifying meaningful relations between unrelated stimuli. In a series of studies, several manipulations were induced that varied whether or not participants lacked control. The studies consistently revealed that a lack of control produced an increase in illusory pattern perception, as indicated by, for instance, seeing images in noise, developing superstitions, and forming illusory correlations in stock market information. Of particular interest for the current chapter is that one of the studies indicated a similar finding for the extent to which participants perceived conspiracies. Following a manipulation in which participants recalled an incident where they either had control over a situation or where they lacked control, participants read a scenario that described how their boss denied them a much-wanted promotion. Results revealed that participants who recalled an incident where they lacked control


J.-W. van Prooijen

were more inclined to believe that this negative decision was connected with an increase in email correspondence between their boss and a co-worker than participants who recalled an incident where they had control. Thus, lacking control increased participants’ suspicions that the negative decision that they faced was in fact an injustice produced by a conspiracy between their boss and a co-worker. Converging support for the influence of lacking control on conspiracy beliefs was obtained by Sullivan et al. (2010), who found that experiencing a lack of control leads people to attribute an exaggerated influence and conspiratorial power to their enemies. A closer inspection of the literature, however, indicates that the evidence for sense-making activities and conspiracy beliefs is mixed. Indeed, empirical findings reveal that people who experience a lack of control sometimes display an increased reliance on external control systems, such as a controlling government (Kay, Gaucher, Napier, Callan, & Laurin, 2008; Kay, Whitson, Gaucher, & Galinksy, 2009). Thus, sense-making efforts may sometimes increase the faith that people have in the institutions that, at other times, are implicated in conspiracy beliefs. These findings suggest that the relation between sense-making processes and conspiracy beliefs may be psychologically more complex than has been recognized before. In reconciling these findings, Van Prooijen and Jostmann (2010) examined the possibility that the relation between sense-making activities and conspiracy beliefs can be understood by taking the extent to which people perceive authorities or institutions as moral or immoral into account. The basic premise is that when people are stimulated to make sense of social events – as they are in conditions of uncertainty or lacking control – they are more attentive to the morality of the actions of authorities when determining how credible they believe a specific conspiracy theory is. This reasoning is consistent with theorizing on the uncertainty management model of justice (Van den Bos & Lind, 2002), which asserts that under conditions of uncertainty people are more in need for information about the extent to which decision-makers have benevolent intentions – information that people tend to derive from the morality of the decision-makers’ behaviors. It stands to reason that when people experience uncertainty, the perceived morality of the overt behaviors of authorities also turns on assumptions about the covert affairs that these authorities may or may not be involved in. Hence, the perceived morality of authorities is diagnostic for people to gauge the plausibility of conspiracy theories that impose blame on these authorities for a threat to the social order. This line of reasoning suggests the hypothesis that the influence of the perceived morality of institutions on conspiracy beliefs is particularly strong when people experience uncertainty. This hypothesis was tested in a series of studies by Van Prooijen and Jostmann (2010). The first study was in the context of the 9–11 terrorist attacks on the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Participants first responded to the personal need for structure scale, an individual difference measure that is defined as people’s desire for clarity and certainty (Neuberg & Newsom, 1993), and that is empirically associated with lacking control (Whitson & Galinsky, 2008). For instance, this scale asks participants whether they enjoy

Suspicions of Injustice: The Sense-Making Function of Belief in Conspiracy Theories


having a clear and structured mode of life, and whether they dislike situations that are uncertain. After the assessment of this personality variable, participants started with a study that was presented as a study on “how students perceive impactful events in the world”, and were informed that they would be asked their perceptions of the 9–11 terrorist strikes. Participants’ conspiracy beliefs were measured by means of questions asking to what extent participants believed that the former George W. Bush administration was involved in planning and executing these attacks. In addition, participants responded to questions about the perceived immorality of the former Bush administration. Results revealed a strong correlation between the extent to which the former Bush administration was considered to be immoral, and the perceived likelihood that the former Bush administration was involved in planning the 9–11 attacks. More important, however, was the finding that this correlation was moderated by need for structure, such that the relation between perceived immorality and belief in conspiracy theories was particularly strong among participants who had a high need for structure. These findings reveal corroborative evidence for the assumed relation between uncertainty and morality to predict conspiracy beliefs. In a consecutive study by Van Prooijen and Jostmann (2010), the independent variables of interest were manipulated to establish causality. In keeping with previous research, it was manipulated whether or not uncertainty was a salient issue to participants: In the uncertainty salient conditions, participants responded to two open-ended questions about them being uncertain; in the control condition, participants responded to two open-ended questions about a neutral topic (i.e., watching TV; see Van den Bos, 2001). Furthermore, participants received bogus information about the morality of oil companies: Participants read a human rights research report, which in the moral condition concluded that oil companies generally endorse very humane personnel policies, and adhere strictly to international environmental policies, in third-world countries. In the immoral condition, the research report concluded that oil companies generally endorse very strict personnel policies, and frequently violate international environmental policies, in third-world countries. To measure conspiracy beliefs, participants subsequently responded to questions that asked to what extent they believed that oil companies were involved in starting the war in Iraq. Consistent with predictions, results revealed that information that oil companies are immoral produced stronger conspiracy beliefs than information that oil companies are moral, but only when uncertainty was made salient to participants. Similar effects of uncertainty salience were obtained in a third study, which focused on a bogus newspaper article about a fatal car accident of a political opposition leader in an African country (Van Prooijen & Jostmann, 2010). Consistent with Studies 1 and 2, information that the government of this African country was corrupt increased conspiracy beliefs (measured with questions asking whether or not the car had been sabotaged, and whether a conspiracy caused the ‘accident’) compared to information that the government was not corrupt, but only in the condition where uncertainty was made salient. The three studies by Van Prooijen and Jostmann (2010) provide strong support for the assertion that


J.-W. van Prooijen

uncertainty stimulates people to make sense of impactful social events, leading them to attend to morality information when determining the plausibility of conspiracy theories. Taken together, the studies reviewed here underscore that conspiracy beliefs are the result of sense-making processes in the context of a threat to the social order.

The Big Cause Effect Although the available evidence reviewed above supports the relation between sense-making processes and conspiracy beliefs, it is important to address the issue why these sense-making processes thus sometimes promote belief in alternative explanations for threats to the social order, instead of belief in the official explanation that is available. Often, the official explanation for a threat to the social order (e.g., the 9–11 terrorist strikes were committed by Al Qaeda terrorists) also fosters understanding of why a threat to the social order emerged, and hence, should also be relevant for people’s need to make sense of such an event. Moreover, conspiracy theories often are more complex – and therefore often less plausible – than the official account, as these theories usually assume an unrealistically grand and secret scheme of evil government officials (e.g., it would take a lot of secret and illegal organization, combined with the continuing discretion of a lot of legitimate government officials, for the Bush administration to actually organize the 9–11 terrorist strikes). Why then do sense-making processes promote conspiracy beliefs among ordinary people (i.e., without mental disorder), even when such beliefs are somewhat far-fetched, and for which concrete evidence is lacking? I argue here that it can be psychologically unsatisfactory for people to accept that a major event that determined the path of history was caused by a relatively minor cause. The idea that conspiracy beliefs are the results of people’s tendency to attribute big causes to big events is tentatively referred to as The Big Cause Effect (Van Prooijen, Van Dijk, & Gouman, 2010). The underlying psychological mechanisms of the big cause effect can be found in theories about attribution and causal judgment (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977). For instance, in a series of studies, Fiedler, Freytag, and Unkelbach (2010) investigated causal impact judgments in a health context. Participants were given the raw data of studies on various dieting treatment programs, and were asked to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs. Interestingly, these programs were evaluated to be most effective in conditions where participants were informed that the effect had a strong cause (i.e., the treatment group only contained the upper 15% of participants who adhered most rigorously to the dieting program) than if the effect had a weak cause (i.e., no mention was made of such a percentage, and the treatment was described to be applied inconsistently) – a finding that represents a systematic cognitive fallacy, as logical reasoning dictates that the same effect must be stronger if the cause that was necessary to produce it is weaker (to illuminate this principle, an explosive substance is more powerful if smaller amounts are necessary

Suspicions of Injustice: The Sense-Making Function of Belief in Conspiracy Theories


to cause the same explosion; Fiedler et al., 2010). For the present purposes, it is relevant to observe here that people tend to assume a big cause for a big consequence. The implications of these causal impact principles for belief in conspiracy theories were first illuminated in a preliminary study by McCauley and Jacques (1979), a study that was inspired by the John F. Kennedy assassination. Participants read a scenario in which it was described how a man tried to shoot a president. It was varied whether or not the president was hit and died (big consequence) or whether the president was missed and stayed alive (small consequence). As a measure of conspiracy beliefs, it was assessed whether or not participants believed that the man acted alone, or whether they believed that this man was a member of a group organized to kill the president. Results indicated that participants were more prone to believe that the assassination attempt was a conspiracy when consequences were big (i.e., the president was hit and died) as opposed to small (the president was missed and lived). It must be noted, though, that these authors did not manage to successfully exclude an important alternative explanation, which is that assassination attempts are more likely to be successful when they are organized by groups instead of when they are the actions of a lone individual (e.g., groups may plan such an assassination attempt more carefully, and may hire a professional killer who is less likely to miss target). Nevertheless, the preliminary results obtained by McCauley and Jacques, in combination with the above insights in the attribution domain (Fiedler et al., 2010), do suggest that the possibility of a big cause effect to explain conspiracy beliefs is worthy of further study. Inspired by these considerations, Van Prooijen et al. (2010) designed a series of studies that sought to gather evidence for the idea that conspiracy beliefs indeed can be the result of people attributing big causes to big events. Their more specific reasoning was based on the assumption that people are most likely to engage in attributional – and thus sense-making – processes when they experience empathy with the victims who were harmed by a threat to the social order. This assumption is based on research indicating that empathy – defined as an other-centered emotion that is characterized by taking the perspective of someone else – leads an observer to be genuinely concerned about the well-being of a victim (Batson, 1991; Batson, Eklund, Chermok, Hoyt, & Ortiz, 2007). Such concern about another’s well-being is likely to make observers vigilant about the circumstances that led to the victimization of this other, increasing the need to make sense of the event by understanding how and why the victimization occurred. This increase in attributional activity under conditions of empathy is likely to lead people to seek big causes for big events, an assertion that is consistent with the previously discussed principles of causal impact evaluations (Fiedler et al., 2010). Based on these arguments, Van Prooijen et al. (2010) predicted that people would be more likely to believe in conspiracies following events with impactful consequences than following events with small consequences, but only when participants experience empathy with those affected by a threat to the social order. In a first study, participants were instructed that they would read a newspaper article about an African opposition leader. Before receiving the text, participants


J.-W. van Prooijen

were asked to either take the perspective of the opposition leader while reading the article, or to read the article in an objective state of mind. Previous research indicates that such a perspective taking manipulation successfully varies the levels of empathy that participants experience towards a target person (Batson, 1991; Batson et al., 2007). The article that participants read then described how an influential African opposition leader – who was likely to win the elections next month – was involved in a car crash. Event size was manipulated by varying the outcome of the car crash: In the small event condition, participants read that the opposition leader miraculously survived the crash and that the elections would proceed as planned; in the big event condition, participants read that the opposition leader died in the car crash, and that the elections would be postponed until further notice. The dependent variable was conspiracy beliefs, operationalized by means of items assessing whether the car accident was a planned assault on the life of the opposition leader (e.g., “the brakes were sabotaged”; cf. Van Prooijen & Jostmann, 2010, Exp. 3). Consistent with the predictions, results revealed that the death of the opposition leader (i.e., the big event condition) substantially increased belief in conspiracy theories, but only in the perspective-taking condition. In the control condition where participants were required to read the article objectively, no such influence emerged, and the means were as low as in the perspective-taking/small event condition. These results revealed corroborative evidence for a Big Cause Effect to explain conspiracy beliefs, but only when observers experience empathy towards the victim of a threat to the social order. In a second study, which was designed to replicate and extend this effect, participants responded to the same stimulus materials, but with one noteworthy difference. In the first experiment participants took the perspective of the opposition leader who died in the big event conditions. It might be psychologically different to take the perspective of a dead rather than a living person, thus potentially confounding the two manipulations. To address this issue, in the second experiment participants in the perspective-taking condition were asked to imagine that they were one of the citizens of the described African country.1 This improved perspective-taking manipulation produced the same results as Study 1. Based on these two studies, it can thus be concluded that belief in conspiracy theories are – at least under conditions of empathy – produced by people’s tendency to attribute big causes for big events. Moreover, the alternative explanation that an actual conspiracy is more likely to be successful (McCauley & Jacques, 1979) can not explain the results that were obtained by Van Prooijen et al. (2010): After all, this alternative explanation can only be maintained if a similar effect of event size would have emerged in the control condition, an effect that was not observed in the data of two experiments. It thus seems that people sometimes favor a conspiracy

1 The idea for this improved perspective taking manipulation was in fact raised by one of the participants of the Eichst€att symposium during the discussion following the author’s presentation. I would hereby like to extend my gratitude for this very useful suggestion that inspired the study presented here.

Suspicions of Injustice: The Sense-Making Function of Belief in Conspiracy Theories


theory over the official explanation for a threat to the social order, not despite of its complexity, but precisely because of its complexity, suggesting a big cause for a big event.

Practical Implications Conspiracy beliefs and other forms of paranoia can have far-reaching consequences. Indeed, a review of history indicates an abundance of, for instance, genocide, murder, hate, crime, and terrorism, that was inspired by such paranoid beliefs (e.g., the 1995 bombing of an Oklahoma government building by two young American men – killing 168 people – was inspired by conspiracy beliefs assuming that the US government increasingly removed basic freedoms from US citizens; see Pipes, 1997). As such, it is important to consider the interventions that decisionmakers have at their disposal to reduce the potential for conspiracy beliefs. Although it is impossible for leaders to prevent threats to the social order from happening occasionally, I argue here that the manner in which leaders interact with their followers – particularly in the aftermath of a threat to the social order – is crucial to attenuate the prevalence of conspiracy beliefs. My main argument is that the extent to which leaders emphasize fundamental procedural justice principles during decision-making processes is likely to predict whether or not people become suspicious about the role that these leaders play in events that threatened the social order. Besides procedural justice principles that are most typically studied in empirical research – that is, voice (Folger, 1977; cf. Lind, Kanfer & Earley, 1990; Tyler, 1987; Van Prooijen, Karremans, & Van Beest, 2006) and accuracy (e.g., Van den Bos & Lind, 2001; Van Prooijen, Van den Bos, & Wilke, 2002) – I would like to argue here that in the specific case of conspiracy beliefs another procedural justice principle may be of particular importance. This is the principle of transparency, defined as the extent to which authorities give clear accounts to their followers for the reasons why certain decisions are necessary (e.g., Brockner, DeWitt, Grover, & Reed, 1990; Folger & Martin, 1986). Conspiracy beliefs usually are a response to a situation that is considered a threat to a large group of people, and as such, it can be impossible for decision-makers to listen to the opinions of all people who are concerned. Moreover, without transparency it can be hard to convince followers of the accuracy and the morality of the decision-making processes that may be necessary in the aftermath of a threat to the social order. Circumstantial evidence indeed supports the idea that transparency is vital to avoid suspicious responses when decision-makers and their followers face difficult times. For instance, Brockner and colleagues (e.g., Brockner et al., 1990; Brockner et al., 1994) investigated how procedural justice – operationalized as the extent to which decision-makers gave accounts for their decisions – influenced responses of layoff survivors in organizations. Results of a series of studies indicated that layoff survivors felt more committed to their organization, and had more trust in their


J.-W. van Prooijen

superiors, when they believed that they had been given clear accounts why the layoff occurred. Although these studies did not investigate conspiracy beliefs directly, they do indicate that procedural justice principles in general and transparency in particular, are functional to maintain positive psychological connections between leaders and followers in the context of a threatening event. At a broader level, it is well-known that adherence to procedural justice principles has positive effects on, for instance, the trust and legitimacy that people accord to authority figures (e.g., Tyler & Blader, 2003). Such trust is highly relevant for the present purposes, as it has been noted that distrust is a core component of paranoia (Kramer & Messick, 1998). Moreover, the trust and legitimacy that people accord to decision makers is likely to substantially contribute to people’s overall perceptions of whether these decision-makers are moral or immoral. In some of the studies reviewed in this chapter it was shown how overall impressions of morality or immorality contribute to conspiracy beliefs under conditions of uncertainty (Van Prooijen & Jostmann, 2010). Such a close relation between procedural justice and general perceptions of morality is further confirmed if we take into account that the moderating role of uncertainty that Van Prooijen and Jostmann (2010) observed closely mirror previous findings in the procedural justice domain. For instance, people are more sensitive to the way they are treated by decision-makers when they experience uncertainty (Van den Bos, 2001) or lack control (Van Prooijen, 2009). The Van Prooijen and Jostmann (2010) findings add to this earlier research by (a) revealing the implication of these uncertainty management processes for conspiracy beliefs, and (b) pointing out that uncertainty management processes also operate among observers who rely on general impressions of decision-makers’ morality to make sense of threatening social events. In sum, the available evidence suggests that implementing procedural justice principles may be a powerful tool for decision-makers to attenuate the potential for conspiracy beliefs. Whenever a threat to the social order occurs, it may be beneficial for decision-makers to clearly explain the motives for their actions and decisions to the general public. Moreover, it may be worthwhile to flexibly respond to emerging signs of suspiciousness by starting a dialogue with distrustful individuals, in which attempts are made to remove the suspicion by providing openness in the events that took place. Interventions of this sort may not eliminate all possible forms of paranoia, but may nevertheless be helpful in removing the potential for conspiracy beliefs to become widespread.

Concluding Remarks The present chapter was focused on understanding the social-psychological origins of belief in conspiracy theories, and on outlining practical tools for decision-makers to reduce excessive paranoia among followers. It must be emphasized, though, that the present propositions are independent from the question whether or not conspiracy beliefs sometimes may contain a grain of truth. In history several

Suspicions of Injustice: The Sense-Making Function of Belief in Conspiracy Theories


incidents can be found where legitimate leaders actually turned out to be part of a malevolent conspiracy (e.g., the Watergate scandal). Furthermore, the natural predisposition of the human species to be somewhat alert and suspicious towards the actions of leaders may be an evolutionary adaptive response (Van Vugt, Hogan, & Kaiser, 2008). Having said this, extreme belief in conspiracies is likely to be dysfunctional, and it has been noted that excessive suspiciousness towards leaders constitutes a psychological distortion of an otherwise healthy response (Robins & Post, 1997). Moreover, the vast majority of conspiracy beliefs in history turned out to be false (Pipes, 1997). Independent from their approximation of the truth, conspiracy theories may form a psychological reality to its believers, and have numerous detrimental consequences on both the intrapersonal (e.g., anxiety, stress) and interpersonal levels (e.g., conflict, distrust). In the present chapter I sought to illuminate the subjectivity of conspiracy beliefs by showing how these beliefs are shaped by basic sense-making processes. As such, the propositions laid out here were designed to clarify why people can become so suspicious towards the actions of leaders, providing the basis for conflict escalation.

References Batson, C. D. (1991). The altruism question: Toward a social-psychological answer. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Batson, C. D., Eklund, J. H., Chermok, V. L., Hoyt, J. L., & Ortiz, B. G. (2007). An additional antecedent of empathic concern: Valuing the welfare of the person in need. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 65–74. Brockner, J., DeWitt, R. L., Grover, S., & Reed, T. (1990). When it is especially important to explain why: Factors affecting the relationship between managers’ explanations of a layoff and survivors’ reactions to the layoff. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 26, 389–407. Brockner, J., Konovsky, M., Cooper-Schneider, R., Folger, R., Martin, C., & Bies, R. J. (1994). Interactive effects of procedural justice and outcome negativity on victims and survivors of job loss. Academy of Management Journal, 37, 397–409. Fiedler, K., Freytag, P., Unkelbach, C. (2010). Great oaks from giant acorns grow: How causal impact judgments depend on the strength of a cause. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 162–172. Folger, R. (1977). Distributive and procedural justice: Combined impact of “voice” and improvement on experienced inequity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 108–119. Folger, R., & Martin, C. (1986). Relative deprivation and referent cognitions: Distributive and procedural justice effects. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 22, 531–546. Heine, S. J., Proulx, T., & Vohs, K. D. (2006). The meaning maintenance model: On the coherence of social motivations. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 88–110. Kay, A. C., Gaucher, D., Napier, J. L., Callan, M. J., & Laurin, K. (2008). God and the government: Testing a compensatory control mechanism for the support of external systems. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 18–35. Kay, A. C., Whitson, J. A., Gaucher, D., & Galinsky, A. D. (2009). Compensatory control: Achieving order through the mind, our institutions, and the heavens. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 264–268.


J.-W. van Prooijen

Kramer, R. M., & Messick, D. M. (1998). Getting by with a little help from our enemies: Collective paranoia and its role in intergroup relations. In C. Sedikides, J. Schopler, & C. A. Insko (Eds.), Intergroup cognition and intergroup behaviour (pp. 233–255). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum associates. Lind, E. A., Kanfer, R., & Earley, P. C. (1990). Voice, control, and procedural justice: Instrumental and noninstrumental concerns in fairness judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 952–959. McCauley, C., & Jacques, S. (1979). The popularity of conspiracy theories of presidential assassination: A Bayesian analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 637–644. Neuberg, S. L., & Newsom, J. T. (1993). Personal need for structure: Individual differences in the desire for simple structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 113–131. Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D. (1977). Telling more than we know: Verbal reports on mental processes. Psychological Review, 84, 231–259. Park, L. C., & Folkman, S. (1997). Meaning in the context of stress and coping. Review of General Psychology, 2, 115–144. Pipes, D. (1997). Conspiracy: How the paranoid style flourishes and where it comes from. New York: Simon & Schusters. Robins, R. S., & Post, J. M. (1997). Political paranoia: The psychopolitics of hatred. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Sullivan, D., Landau, M. J., & Rothschild, Z. K. (2010). An existential function of enemyship: Evidence that people attribute influence to personal and political enemies to compensate for threats to control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 434–449. Tyler, T. R. (1987). Conditions leading to value expressive effects in judgments of procedural justice: A test of four models. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 333–344. Tyler, T. R., & Blader, S. L. (2003). The group engagement model: Procedural justice, social identity, and cooperative behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 7, 349–361. Van den Bos, K. (2001). Uncertainty management: The influence of human uncertainty on reactions to perceived fairness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 931–941. Van den Bos, K., & Lind, E. A. (2001). The psychology of own versus other’s treatment: Self-oriented and other-oriented effects on perceptions of procedural justice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 1324–1333. Van den Bos, K., & Lind, E. A. (2002). Uncertainty management by means of fairness judgments. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 34, pp. 1–60). San Diego, CA: Academic. Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2009). Procedural justice as autonomy regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 1166–1180. Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Jostmann, N. B. (2010). Belief in conspiracy theories: How uncertainty and perceived morality shape political paranoia. Unpublished manuscript, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Van Prooijen, J.-W., Karremans, J. C., & Van Beest, I. (2006). Procedural justice and the hedonic principle: How approach versus avoidance motivation influences the psychology of voice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 686–697. Van Prooijen, J.-W., Van den Bos, K., & Wilke, H. A. M. (2002). Procedural justice and status: Status salience as antecedent of procedural fairness effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 1353–1361. Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Van Dijk, E. (2011). The big cause effect: Perspective taking and consequence size shape belief in conspiracy theories. Unpublished manuscript, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Van Vugt, M., Hogan, R., & Kaiser, R. B. (2008). Leadership, followership, and evolution. American Psychologist, 63, 182–196. Whitson, J. A., & Galinsky, A. D. (2008). Lacking control increases illusory pattern perception. Science, 322, 115–117.

Interpersonal Justice


Justice in Performance Situations: Compromise Between Equity and Equality Hans-Werner Bierhoff and Elke Rohmann

Abstract Fairness gives social relationships structure and meaning. Individuals attach crucial importance to the perceived fairness of relationship partners which serves as a signal as to whether the relationship is viable or not. At the same time, fairness issues are sometimes controversial. For example, how do contradictory fairness rules influence reward allocation? Such contradictions of rules constitute a problem both in philosophical treatments of moral action and in the social psychology of fairness. In the context of performance, the application of one of two fairness rules appears reasonable: equity and equality. Either the allocators focus on only one of these normative rules or they attempt to generate a compromise between both rules. The reward expectation hypothesis which is part of expectation states theory offers a solution to this problem: It delineates a formula which allows an estimation of the impact of equity and equality for a given reward allocation among a known number of group members whose relative performances are quantified. The use of the formula is explained on the basis of empirical data obtained in a scenario study in which the performances of group members were depicted as unequal. Results indicate that the formula generates valid estimates of weights which represent the relative impact of equity and equality on reward allocation. In addition, the reward expectation hypothesis offers a new interpretation of the reconstruction of performance distributions on the basis of a known reward distribution.

Introduction: Why Does Justice Matter? Numerous theoretical and empirical studies of justice have been conducted. Folger and Cropanzano (1998, p. xii), for example, discuss two general questions: “What is justice and why does it matter”? In this paper we will take a closer look at both of

H.-W. Bierhoff (*) • E. Rohmann Department of Social Psychology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_8, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



H.-W. Bierhoff and E. Rohmann

these issues. With respect to the first question, justice is defined as the perception of fairness or unfairness of the distribution of outcomes between individuals, groups, or societies on the basis of justice rules, and the employed procedures to make decisions concerning the distribution of outcomes. One can say that justice is in the eye of the beholder. Typically, the issue of justice comes to the forefront if an outcome is perceived that appears unwarranted. Victims or observers of such an incident have doubts about the justification of the result and in questioning its appropriateness focus on the allocator as the cause of the problem. For example, members of a work team contribute equally to a project, but are rewarded unequally afterwards. Those who receive a smaller reward might ask whether the distribution of rewards is legitimate. Or an apartment owner in a 100-apartment building insists that his home shall not be depicted in Google Street View. As a consequence, the building is made unrecognizable in Street View. Those 99 apartment owners who are excluded from the advantages of this technological achievement might ask if they are being treated fairly. These examples show that outcomes in the above definition do not only include rewards but also refer to negative consequences. However, in this chapter we will focus exclusively on the distribution of positive consequences. In addition, a result that is perceived as unwarranted is not necessarily intentional in the sense that the allocator is motivated by the intention to harm others. Instead, the problem may arise as a side-effect which was neither foreseeable nor desired by the allocator. Why does justice matter? The general answer is that by necessity individual interests are not pursued in a social vacuum but in a social context. Therefore, the success of the individual is inextricably connected with the functioning of the social system. Successful individuals must be aware of and take into account social standards, role obligations, and norms offered and imposed by the social system. The fit of the actor in the social system which is a central precondition for individual success is greatly facilitated by his or her fair behavior. The striving for fairness emphasizes the social role of the individual within society. People differ widely in their striving for fairness. For example, narcissists tend to equate fairness with level of own outcomes. The higher their outcomes, the fairer they perceive the transaction. By implication, narcissists assess their own contribution as especially high and that of their relationship partner as low (Rohmann, Bierhoff, & Schmohr, 2010). Although such a pattern of fairness judgments is self-gratifying, interpersonal relations of narcissists are strained because their partners respond with reservation and rejection to their one-sided construction of their social reality (Twenge & Campbell, 2009). Not only are the actors in the social system under pressure to act fairly themselves, but they are also confronted with the question if others are behaving fairly or not: How does their interaction partner respond, benevolently or egoistically? Fairness heuristic theory (Lind, 2001; Van den Bos, Lind, & Wilke, 2001) emphasizes the danger of being manipulated in social relationships on the one hand and people’s use of preventive measures against potential exploitation on the other hand. High fairness of relationship partners is considered a protection against this threat of exploitation, and therefore social actors collect all available evidence

Justice in Performance Situations: Compromise Between Equity and Equality


about their relationship partners’ fairness. Thus, high attention is devoted to the assumed fairness of relationship partners because their willingness to act fairly is of crucial subjective importance. As a consequence, people process all available information in order to form a global assessment of the fairness of their relationship partners. On the basis of assessments of general fairness, people believe that they can correctly identify the good or bad intentions of their relationship partners and therefore have at their disposal a safety mechanism to protect them against exploitation. Justice is based on the social construction of the meaning of events. Therefore, it is no surprise that the lay conception of justice overlaps with the social science conception which also may be understood as a social construction of meaning. Both conceptions are built on the same foundation, but they differ because the lay reconstruction of social meaning occurs more spontaneously and subconsciously, whereas the social science reconstruction is more systematic and explicit. Within social science in general and social psychology in particular scholars have begun to develop their own terminology. The discourse about justice is elicited if two individuals are involved in a conflict over the appropriateness of an outcome. The outcome may refer to economical resources, social-emotional consequences, or cultural achievements. Justice presupposes interdependence between persons which is at least partly guided by rules and procedures. In many situations (but not always) justice refers to situations in which a transaction takes place, for example, an exchange of performance with payment. The statement that a transaction is fair is based on a comparison standard which is considered to be fulfilled. The comparison standard may prescribe that those group members who contribute more to the group’s success get a larger reward. The rule may be specified on the basis of mathematical proportionality or be applied more intuitively to make sure that the rank order of performances is a mirror image of the rank order of rewards. If such a rule is available, actors and observers who accept the rule as valid in the given situation will agree in considering the transaction as just and right. What is unjust, is not right. But the reverse is not necessarily true: What is not right, is not necessarily unjust (Folger & Cropanzano, 1998). The branch of philosophy which focuses on the concept of justice is ethics. The study of right action and morality constitute the subject matter of ethics. Although at first glance it seems to be clear what the right action is, the philosophical analysis is connected with some controversy as is illustrated by the Latin phrase “Fiat justitia ruat caelum” meaning “May justice be done though the heavens fall”. This statement leads to the more general question whether the principle of justice should be given absolute priority or whether there may be situations where a compromise that considers other factors is warranted. In addition, if several principles of justice may be applied, the question arises whether the goal is to identify the one and only applicable principle of reward allocation, or whether it is more appropriate to find a compromise between two or more principles of reward allocation. Whereas philosophy considers the normative viewpoint of justice with the emphasis on what should be done, the social sciences focus on the subjective meaning of justice. Whether something is fair or not depends on the subjective


H.-W. Bierhoff and E. Rohmann

judgment of people. The social psychological study of justice refers to perceived fairness which is either derived from verbal reports, such as ratings on a response scale, or from decisions passed, for example, the allocation of rewards depending on given performances.

Fairness Rules as Guidelines of Social Behavior The empirical measurement of fairness offers the opportunity to examine formal models of fairness which prescribe specific reward distributions. For example, the proportionality rule states that rewards should be allocated proportionally to performances. This is the essence of the equity rule which was originally described by Homans (1961) and Adams (1965). The relationship between person A and person B is defined as equitable if their ratio of outcome (O) and input (I) is equal: OA/IA ¼ OB/IB. For example, this rule is fulfilled if person A receives 20 euro and person B 10 euro when person A completes 100 work units and person B 50 work units. In this case the ratio of outcomes and inputs is .20, meaning that person A and person B receive .20 euro for each unit completed. In the same vein, this equity rule prescribes that a person who produces 80 units should be paid off 16 euro. However, the equity rule does not always predominate in reward allocation. Several reasons may contribute to a violation of the equity rule in the allocation of rewards. For example, the reward allocation may not depend on units produced but on tenure in the organization. In this case, one might argue that the input is defined differently. Or another fairness rule is employed. For example, when the equality rule is employed, the outcomes are distributed equally among co-workers. Given differences in performances, equality contradicts equity. Or the allocator might not be in the position to calculate the correct distribution of rewards based on the equity rule, or he or she is prejudiced and prefers person B over person A. What really determines the distribution of rewards is a complex question. Both experiments and descriptive studies shed light on this question. Another issue is what the consequences of reward allocation are. Does future performance increase or decrease as a function of reward allocation and does harmony among the coworkers prosper or suffer?

Fairness in Primates To comply with fairness rules is an important concern of primates. Brosnan and Waal (2003) describe research with chimpanzees which shows that the animals respond with strong protest when one of them receives a bunch of grapes and the other a cucumber. The chimpanzee who received the inferior reward was outraged. In addition, the superior-rewarded chimpanzee voluntarily shared his bunch of grapes with the less happy chimpanzee. If the chimpanzees had the same rank

Justice in Performance Situations: Compromise Between Equity and Equality


and were reared together, they would not accept inequality of rewards. It is quite impressive how they adhere to the equality norm. Chimpanzees accept inequality of the quality of food only if the allocation of rewards corresponds to rank differences of the involved chimps. Differences in rank seem to justify the application of the equity principle.

Fairness World of the Child Among humans, perceived fairness is relevant in many spheres of life. Concerns about fairness begin quite early in development. Children are not hesitant to assess the fairness of rewards, but their judgments are subject to qualitative changes. Younger children use cognitively less challenging fairness rules, whereas older children may employ more complex rules (Piaget, 1965; Damon, 1977). In addition, between the ages four and eight the ability to integrate information about need and effort into fairness judgments increases. This ability increases until adolescence although it is not necessarily used in the construction of specific fairness judgments. Besides these differences in cognitive performance, other differences which depend on age are also relevant. For example, first graders are less familiar with level of performance as a criterion of school career than third and fourth graders (Kienbaum & Wilkening, 2009). Therefore, the relevance of the input “performance” is less obvious to first graders than to fourth graders. In general, 6-year-olds prefer the need rule which states that rewards should be contingent on needs, and 15-year-olds the effort rule which states that rewards should be distributed according to effort invested, whereas 9-year-olds are somewhere in between (Kienbaum & Wilkening, 2009). In contrast, the goal of maintaining absolute equality is only marginally significant in childrens’ fairness judgments.

Fairness of Equity and Equality: Potential for Controversy or Compromise? In our culture, cooperation predominates. People who ignore fairness by betraying or exploiting others run the risk of being considered a psychopath or narcissist or even to be jailed. Individual differences in adherence to fairness norms may be the result of evolutionary processes (Mealey, 1995). Why do people follow fairness rules? The reasons are manifold. Fairness rules constitute a standard of appropriate behavior which makes it possible to identify irregular events such as those occurring in the case of fraud. Therefore, the use of fairness rules offers the opportunity to identify deceivers, retaliate against them, and eventually deter others who may also have this inclination. In addition, fairness


H.-W. Bierhoff and E. Rohmann

rules allow the development of cooperation among group members. For example, cooperative food-sharing is advantageous in a hostile environment as demonstrated by hunter-and-gatherer cultures (Cosmides & Tooby, 1992). A comparison between fairness among chimpanzees and among human beings is instructive. Whereas chimpanzees are mainly guided by rank order including the expectation that animals of equal rank should be rewarded equally, human beings carefully consider the social context in which the transaction takes place (Bierhoff & Rohmann, 2006). For example, they alternate between equity and equality depending on the particular situation (Bierhoff, Buck, & Klein, 1986) and are able to find a compromise among competing rules of fairness. They also sometimes compromise between different strategies of organizing the exchange in cases where the individual interests are divergent. For example, Kelley and Thibaut (1978) delineate an “equal share, optimal joint profit exchange” which represents a compromise between individual interests on the one hand and common interests on the other hand. This exchange takes the equality rule and the goal of maximizing joint profit into account (cf. Bierhoff & Jonas, 2011). One intriguing question for theory and research on fairness has to do with one important situational determinant: the crucial role of the magnitude of contributions of co-workers on determining their outcomes. The adherence to the equity or equality rule depends in part on the relative performance of co-workers (Mikula, 1972). Given that the differences between team members were small, outcomes were overwhelmingly determined on the basis of equity. But if the difference between team members was larger, equity was no longer the prevailing principle because equality became an influential factor in the decision of reward allocation. As a result, a compromise between equity and equality was established favoring the less productive co-worker and reducing the outcome of the more productive coworker. Such compromises between equity and equality were also observed in other experiments (e.g., Bierhoff, 1982; Brickman & Bryan, 1976). Decisions about the distribution of outcomes among co-workers may be informed by one or several rules (Lerner, 1981). Among these rules equity, equality, and need are especially prominent. Whereas the equity rule is based on fixed proportionality between performance and outcome, equality is based on egalitarian values. According to the viewpoint of egalitarianism, all co-workers are equal group members and this equal status justifies equal outcomes. The third strategy considers individual needs and entitlements that follow from these needs as a decision criterion which leads to a distribution of rewards that rests upon individual differences (Schwinger, 1986). In this chapter we focus on equity and equality as standards for the assignment of rewards. There is also evidence on the comparison between all three justice rules (equity, equality, and need; Steiner, Traban, Haptonstahl, & Fointiat, 2006) which will be taken up in the discussion section. Although equity and equality both apply to the same type of social relationship which has been labeled as “unit” by Lerner, Miller, and Holmes (1976), they constitute a real alternative. The contrast between equity and equality was anticipated by Parsons (1952) who delineated two functional presuppositions of

Justice in Performance Situations: Compromise Between Equity and Equality


social systems. On the one hand, the social system must adapt to the environment in order to reach important goals, and on the other hand, the social system must integrate group members. Equity refers to goal attainment and to providing incentives for high achievements, whereas equality corresponds with egalitarian values and therefore facilitates social integration among group members. Here, one can apply the proverb “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too”. Adherence to one rule excludes the positive effects which are associated with adherence to the other rule. Therefore, in many situations – for example in the classroom – a competition exists between both principles. But is it really true that one cannot generate a solution that combines the equity rule from the world of goal attainment and the equality rule from the world of interpersonal harmony? Obviously, the competition between equity and equality is a worthwhile research topic. Basically, two research paradigms may be used. The first paradigm – the standard paradigm which is realized in two versions – starts with information about the performance distribution of co-workers. In one version, judges state what they believe to be a fair distribution of outcomes that corresponds to the distribution of performance. In the second version, judges indicate their preference for one of the provided outcome distributions. A second research paradigm takes into account that people are frequently aware of how large the outcomes of other people are. For example, this information can easily be derived from status symbols. Therefore, people start with outcome information in order to deduce the performance level. Such a reverse inference may follow the equity rule “People who receive more rewards have performed on a higher level”. In this way the distributive justice of equity would be reconstructed. But what will people infer who encounter an equal reward distribution? If they follow the equity rule, they will infer that the performance distribution is also equal. But if they apply the equality rule, they may believe that the performance distribution is unequal. The second research paradigm – the reverse-inference paradigm – is also realized in two versions that correspond to the ones mentioned for the first paradigm. But in contrast to the first paradigm, the influence of the reward distribution on assumptions about the performance ratio of the co-workers is less frequently studied. Exceptions are provided in studies by Bierhoff et al. (1986), Harrod (1980), and Stewart and Moore (1992). This research shows that rewards spontaneously elicit conclusions about contributions and the conclusions are informed by one or the other fairness rule. In the case of inequality of rewards, the equity rule is clearly used as a guideline for reconstructing the inequality of performances (see Fig. 1, upper panel). This reverse-inference process corresponds with expectation states theory originally developed by Berger, Zelditch, Anderson, and Cohen (1972; also see Berger & Fisek, 2006). In the case of equality of rewards, the equality rule is used as a guideline for reconstructing the performance distribution. This is demonstrated by the fact that in the reverse-inference process equal performances are considered as quite likely, but small differences in performance are considered as even more likely. Therefore, the reverse-inference process is in part based on the assumption that the original performance distribution was unequal (see Fig. 1, lower panel).


H.-W. Bierhoff and E. Rohmann Most Likely Performance Distributions

Unequal Reward Distribution 8 6


Number of Units






Equal Reward Distribution 6



6 4


Number of Units










6 5










Fig. 1 Results generated by the reverse-inference paradigm on the basis of unequal and equal reward distributions

As a consequence, the distribution of rewards is flatter than the distribution of performances. These results of the reverse-inference paradigm correspond with the reward expectations hypothesis which is outlined in the next section.

Expectation States Theory and the Reward Expectation Hypothesis This line of reasoning is consistent with expectation states theory (Berger & Fisek, 2006). In general, the theory focuses on the explanation of status differences and more specifically on the formation of status-based expectations for rewards. It is assumed that status-based expectations are derived from multiple status characteristics and that group members intuitively grasp two types of cues which determine the status of each group member: specific status characteristics (for example, professional experience or task competence) and diffuse status characteristics (for example, gender, race or age). Diffuse status characteristics have attracted much attention because they may explain the maintenance of gender inequality which is assumed to follow from diffuse status characteristics which are linked with gender. Diffuse status characteristics related to gender favor males over females. In general, males as members of the advantaged group are perceived as more competent and more skillful than females as members of the disadvantaged group (Ridgeway, Backor, Li, Tinkler, & Erickson, 2009).

Justice in Performance Situations: Compromise Between Equity and Equality


Gender is a diffuse status characteristic because it involves four features (Berger & Fisek, 2006): • It is considered as a socially relevant variable which exerts influence on the behavior of group members. • The male–female distinction applies to all group members (and more generally to the whole population). • Males constitute the advantaged group, whereas females represent the disadvantaged group. • In correspondence with these gender-based status differences, males are perceived as more competent than females in many task areas. An interesting question is which processes contribute to the social construction of status differences on an individual level and on the level of the society at large. Part of the answer is provided by social role theory which was originally proposed by Eagly (1987; see also Eagly & Karau, 1991). Expectation states theory and social role theory overlap considerably in their basic framework and applications. The starting point of social role theory is that social roles contribute to the formation of specific stereotypes. For example, the content of gender stereotypes corresponds with the social roles which are typically performed by males and females. Therefore, the division of labor in society corresponds with gender stereotypes. The given social structure implies that males are stereotyped as instrumental and action-oriented, whereas females are stereotyped in correspondence with their role as mother and housewife as emotional and expressive. An implication of this reasoning is that a substantial change of social structure undermines traditional gender stereotypes which are based on the predominant social structure and the social roles of males and females which are attached to it (Wood & Eagly, 2002). As mentioned before, status characteristics are either diffuse or specific. In many situations diffuse and specific status characteristics are involved simultaneously. The reward expectation hypothesis is that part of expectation states theory which refers to the prediction of reward distributions. The distribution of rewards may depend on diffuse status characteristics. For example, older employees receive higher payment than younger employees. But it may also depend on performance differences due to differences in task competence. In task situations in which performance differences are evident specific status characteristics receive pivotal attention. In democratic societies the relevance of diffuse status characteristics like gender is denied. Instead, an equal work – equal pay approach is preferred which fits much better into the Declaration of Human Rights. The legitimacy of diffuse status characteristics as determinants of reward distribution is jeopardized and no longer part of the social consensus because diffuse status characteristics tend to contradict basic human rights. As a consequence, a consensus about the equality of all human beings has emerged. This egalitarianism is closely linked to the norm of equality. In this (post)modern normative context, only specific status characteristics are perceived as legitimate input of the decision about the allocation of rewards among group members. Therefore, the norm of equality is complemented by the norm of equity.


H.-W. Bierhoff and E. Rohmann

The reward expectation hypothesis focuses on reward distributions in groups which are part of a democratic society. What are the legitimate reward expectations of each group member? The hypothesis gives an answer to this question. The answer depends on the weight which is given to equality and specific status characteristics. The reward expectation hypothesis is a proposition about fairness. It is assumed that a fair distribution of rewards among group members depends on the realization of two norms with which we are already familiar: the norm of equality and the norm of equity. As discussed before, within the democratic system diffuse status characteristics are considered as questionable and at bottom as illegitimate determinants of rewards among group members. That does not exclude the possibility that diffuse status characteristics influence reward expectations on an unconscious level. In fact, the current societal discourse about gender inequality argues that such a hidden agenda exists. But in general, the secular trend indicates that the influence of diffuse status characteristics like gender diminishes. At the same time, the equal work – equal pay approach has become the widely accepted consensus. This societal consensus is also visible in anti-discrimination programs which intend to make sure that women are no longer disadvantaged as applicants for well-paid jobs. In summary, the relevance of the equity norm and the equality norm as standards of fairness has increased, whereas at the same time diffuse status characteristics are more and more considered as distortions of fair status assignment. The reward expectation hypothesis focuses on fair distribution of rewards on the basis of a combination of the equity and the equality norm. Two interrelated questions about the impact of normative standards are answered: • How much of the equity norm is represented in the reward distribution? • How much does the reward distribution resemble the equality norm? Fisek and Hysom (2008) make the reasonable assumption that the weights of equity and equality are interdependent. Therefore, the higher the influence of the equity norm on the reward distribution, the lower the influence the equality norm exerts and vice versa. The authors use a mathematical formula on the basis of the weighting factor omega which expresses the relative weight of equity, whereas (1  omega) corresponds to the weight of equality. The share of group member i which is derived by the application of the equity rule is designated si, whereas the share generated by the application of the equality rule is equal to 1/n, where n is the number of group members. Now let pi refer to the fair allocation of rewards for group member i. Then the following equation is fomulated: pi ¼ omega  si þ ð1  omegaÞ=n þ Error


If omega ¼ 1, only equity determines the allocation of rewards of group member i. If the value of omega is smaller than 1, but different from zero, the equality weight (1  omega) becomes larger. Finally, if omega is zero, the reward allocation is completely based on the equality rule.

Justice in Performance Situations: Compromise Between Equity and Equality


The above formula is illustrated by the following example which refers to the distributive justice among four group members. Let us assume that omega takes the value of .8 for all group members meaning that equity determines with an impact of 80% what is fair. Because (1  omega) is calculated as .2, equality has an impact of 20% on the fairness assessment. Now let us assume that the superior group member No. 1 is responsible for 40% of the group performance and the inferior group member No. 4 contributes 10% to the group performance. Therefore, s1 ¼ .40 and s4 ¼ .10. Finally, group members No. 2 and No. 3 contribute 25% to the group performance (s2 ¼ .25 and s3 ¼ .25). From this the calculation of fair rewards for the four group members is as follows: Group member No: 1 : p1 ¼ :80  :40 þ :20  :25 ¼ :37 Group member No: 4 : p4 ¼ :80  :10 þ :20  :25 ¼ :13 Group members No: 2 and No: 3 : p2 ¼ p3 ¼ :80  :25 þ :20  :25 ¼ :25 Thus, the superior group member receives 37% of the reward which is less than his or her relative contribution. In contrast to member 1, member 4 receives more than his or her relative contribution (13% instead of 10%). Finally, group member No. 2 and No. 3 get exactly the share of the reward which corresponds to their relative contribution. If omega ¼ 1, the shape of the reward distribution matches the shape of the performance distribution. Because people are generally inclined to insert a value smaller than 1 for omega, it is expected that the reward distribution will usually vary less than the performance distribution. This hypothesis is confirmed in a scenario study by Fisek and Hysom (2008). In correspondence with the results by Mikula (1972), this study also shows that the relative impact of equality increases as performance differences increase. This pattern of results confirms the reward expectation hypothesis as viable and, in addition, shows that fairness may be construed as a compromise between equity and equality. The value of omega is not fixed but is likely to vary across different contexts and populations (cf. Fisek & Hysom, 2008; Steiner et al., 2006). But since it is usually not equal to 1, reward expectations of more successful people are lower in relation to their higher than average performance, whereas reward expectations of less successful people are higher than expected considering their less than average performance. Note that the results of the reverse-inference paradigm which were summarized in Figure 1 correspond with reward expectation hypothesis. For illustrative purposes, we focus on the member who contributes 40% of the performance in a four-person group. Application of the equality rule generates a 25%-share of rewards for this member. Now we assume that the reverse inference is based on the formula pi ¼ omega  si + (1  omega)/n and that omega is larger than zero. If judges assume that the equal reward distribution is based on the formula and insert omega ¼ .20, they will infer that the relative performance is .28 (that is larger than 1/n). If judges use omega ¼ .50 as a weighting factor, they will infer the


H.-W. Bierhoff and E. Rohmann

relative contribution as .325 (that is half way between equality and actual performance). Even if the judges insert omega ¼ .10, they will derive an assessment of relative performance (26.5%) which is slightly higher than the equal share of 25%. In summary, equity and equality are competing principles of allocation. Which principle is applied when and where depends on the social context. People routinely employ a variety of allocation strategies including both the equity and the equality rule (Scott & Bornstein, 2009). The reward expectation hypothesis constitutes a theoretical model which renders a quantitative estimate of the distribution of rewards in groups of high and low performing group members. In addition, the hypothesis explains that in the reverse-inference paradigm respondents tend to infer unequal performances from equal rewards.

Impact Factors of Equity and Equality Equity fairness and equality fairness represent two normative standards which compete with each other. The quantitative formula in Eq. 1 allows the derivation of weights which represent the relative impact of equity and equality. The weights depend on the number of group members, their relative share of the group performance, and their relative share of the group reward. Knowledge of the weights is highly informative because they answer the question: What is the impact of equity and equality, respectively, on reward allocation? The answer to this question makes transparent which allocation strategy was employed. From the formula above the following equation follows which allows the assessment of the omega attached to each member i: omegai ¼ ðpi  n  1Þ=ðsi  n  1Þ


On the basis of this formula an omega for each group member may be computed. Note that the formula has an important limitation. It is not possible to calculate omega if si equals 1/n because under this condition the equation divides by zero. The limitation has to do with the fact that the original equation implies that if si ¼ 1/n, then pi ¼ 1/n for any weight omega.

Empirical Evidence: How to Distribute a Bonus Among Group Members? We used a proactive scenario in order to demonstrate the assessment of weights. In a proactive allocation situation, individuals allocate rewards to recipients (instead of evaluating the given allocation of rewards by others; Steiner et al., 2006). We instructed 39 psychology students (24 female, 15 male; average age ¼ 26 years)

Justice in Performance Situations: Compromise Between Equity and Equality


to fix the reward of each of four group members whose performance distribution was .50, .20, .20, and .10. This information was embedded in a story of a bonus distribution of 10,000 euros. The group members who were designated by name were either all male or all female. Note that in this case it was possible to compute omega for each group member. Answers were obtained on an 18-point response scale (anchors 5% and 90% with 5% steps). Several special cases may be distinguished: 1. If the reward distribution exactly mirrors the performance distribution, the weights calculated on the basis of the above formula are always 1 for each group member. This is exactly what the calculation should result in from a theoretical point of view, if only equity decides the bonus distribution. 2. If the bonus of each group member is set equal (each group member receives a share of .25), the equity weights are always zero: Equity is completely ignored and equality is the prevailing principle. 3. The following example illustrates a compromise between equity and equality. If the bonuses are .35, .25, .25, and .15, the corresponding weights are calculated as .40 for .50 ! .35 and .67 for .10 ! .15 indicating that the superior performance of 50% is rewarded 40% in correspondence with equity and 60% on the basis of equality, whereas the inferior performance of 10% is rewarded 67% in correspondence with equity and 33% in correspondence with equality. Note that the .25 bonus receives a weight of zero. Compromises may generate shares of .45, .40, .35, or .30 for the superior co-worker and shares of .15 and .20 for the inferior co-worker. 4. One respondent determined the bonuses as .20, .25, .25, and .30. In this case, the reward distribution is a reversal of the performance distribution (high performance is rewarded modestly and low performance is rewarded highly), and the weights are computed as .20, 0, 0, .33. The negative signs indicate that the bonuses of the superior and inferior group members are reversed, contrary to the equity norm. Superior performance is punished, whereas inferior performance is reinforced. The results of the scenario study are instructive. Of the 39 respondents, 12 respondents make sure that each of the four group members receives a portion of 25% of the reward (see Fig. 2, upper panel). The emphasis on egalitarian values in western societies explains – at least in part – that about one-third of the respondents use the equality norm as a guideline in the allocation situation (cf. Feather, 1999). Further, the reward distribution of 14 respondents is exclusively guided by equity (see Fig. 2, lower panel). Therefore, for these respondents omega equals 1. Finally, 12 respondents establish a compromise between equity and equality. They reward the superior group member less and the inferior member more than would be expected if the principle of equity were applied (see Fig. 2, middle panel). Finally, one respondent produced two negative weights by constructing the distribution .20, .25, .25, .30 mentioned above. It is not clear what the intention behind the construction of such a counterintuitive reward distribution was. Either the respondent wanted to defy the equity norm by going in the opposite direction or he confused the performances of the four group members. The second interpretation


H.-W. Bierhoff and E. Rohmann



ty ali


2 1





Compromise Strategy

A (.20)



Note: Weights in brackets









A (.00)

B (.00)

C (.00)

D (.00)

.40 .30


B (.00)


C (.00)








Performance Distribution


Reward Distribution



A (.60)

D (.33)




B (1.0)

C (1.0)

D (.33)



.20 .10

A (1.0)

B (1.0)

C (1.0)

D (1.0)

Fig. 2 Illustration of the compromise strategy and the equity strategy in reward allocation

is supported by the fact that additional ratings of this respondent indicate that he approved the equity rule more strongly than he approved the equality rule. Respondents were asked several questions about their decision. One question was to which extent the respondent considered all group members to be equal as a criterion for allocating bonuses. Another question asked to which extent the respondent considered the inequality of performance to be a criterion for allocating bonuses. We divided the sample into three groups: 1 ¼ strictly equity oriented, 2 ¼ compromise between equity and equality, and 3 ¼ strictly equality oriented. Those who only considered equity predominantly stated that their intention in allocating the rewards was based on the insight “performance differences are relevant”. In contrast, those who were strictly equality oriented strongly stated that they intended to treat all group members equally. Finally, compromisers were in between these two groups as they moderately endorsed both the idea that “all members are equal” and the idea “performance differences are relevant”. Analyses of variance (ONEWAY) results were in correspondence with this interpretation, F (2, 35) ¼ 27.781, p < .001, for “performance differences are relevant”, and F (2, 35) ¼ 19.910, p < .001 for “all members are equal”. Posthoc tests indicated that the three groups of respondents were significantly different from each other. For example, on a 10-point scale the means for performance differences are relevant were M ¼ 9.21 for Group 1, M ¼ 7.08 for Group 2, and M ¼ 3.58 for Group 3. Next we computed the correlations between the omega weights derived from formula (2) and the ratings of “all members are equal” and “performance differences

Justice in Performance Situations: Compromise Between Equity and Equality


are relevant” on the basis of the data of the 39 respondents. All correlations were highly significant. Note that higher weights indicate more impact of the equity norm relative to the equality norm. As expected, the weights correlated positively with “all members are equal” and negatively with “performance differences are relevant”. For example, the correlations between “performance differences are relevant” and “all members are equal” on the one hand and the weight referring to the superior group member on the other hand were r (37) ¼ .598 and r (37) ¼ .711, respectively. Respondents were asked, whether their reward allocation would foster harmony among group members. This rating which was obtained on a 10-point scale correlated negatively with the weights. For example, the equity weight assigned to the superior member correlated r (37) ¼ .452, p < .01, with assumed harmony. Other correlations with questionnaire responses were less pronounced although consistent with expectations. For example, respondents were asked, whether their reward allocation would elicit joy or anger among the group members. In each case, this rating correlated negatively with the weights indicating that the more respondents took equity into account, the less they assumed that the group members would respond positively and the more they assumed that the group members would respond angrily. Finally, just-world belief (cf. Dalbert & Maes, 2002) correlated slightly positively but not significantly with each of the weights.

Practical Consequences Group members are rewarded for their performance. The reward contributes to the status of each group member. Expectation states theory assumes that status depends on diffuse and specific status characteristics. In democratic societies the legitimacy of the consideration of diffuse status characteristics like gender is jeopardized. Instead, specific status characteristics in combination with issues of egalitarianism are taken into account in order to allocate rewards fairly among group members. In performance situations, equity or equality are the most popular allocation rules. Although it is possible to exclusively adhere to one rule or the other, it is more reasonable to realize a compromise between equity and equality, i.e., between the goal to offer an individual achievement incentive and the goal to foster interpersonal harmony among equals. The proverb “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” does not necessarily apply to allocation situations. Our results indicate that although many allocators strictly adhere to either equity or equality, approximately one-third reconcile the conflict of goals by forming a compromise. Compromisers have the choice to focus on equity and equality, respectively. The relative impact of both norms on the allocation decision is reflected in the magnitude of the omega weight which is delineated on the basis of the reward expectation hypothesis. In the range between 0 and 1, the larger omega, the more impact is attributed to the equity norm. By the same logic, the smaller omega, the more impact accrues from the equality norm. The compromise is not necessarily fixed at the break-even point where the impact of both competing norms is set to 50%.


H.-W. Bierhoff and E. Rohmann

Rather, the exact mix of impacts behind the compromise varies from group member to group member and between allocators. Compromisers seem to follow a heuristic approach in determining the exact point of compromise without relying on algebraic computations. The only restriction that is normally considered in the allocation decision is that the sum of the shares must equal 1. Our results indicate that the magnitude of omega is a valid indicator of the intention behind the reward allocation. From an applied perspective, the reward expectation hypothesis and the computation of the weight of equity fosters the transparency of the allocation situation and allows consultation and advice to allocators and recipients of rewards. The application of formula (2) makes it possible to inform decision makers and recipients alike about the impact of equity and equality on allocation decisions in a given situation. In order to compute omega, only quantitative information about individual performance and individual outcome and number of group members is necessary. It is not required to collect the information of all group members in order to answer the question whether the reward allocation of a specific group member is more in line with equity or with equality. If information on all group members is available, it is possible to answer questions like “Were all members of the group treated equally or were some rewarded more in accordance with equity and others more in accordance with equality?” It is likely that compromisers who combine equity with equality in their allocation decision are not completely aware of how much impact equity and equality have on their decision. Therefore, compromisers who get feedback about the impact of equity and equality may develop a better understanding of the process of allocating rewards. On the other hand, recipients of rewards get the arguments to discuss their reward level as dependent on equity and equality. On the basis of a detailed analysis of the allocation situation, a discourse between allocator and recipient appears promising. One important limitation of the reward expectation hypothesis should be mentioned. The hypothesis ignores the need principle, whereas the role of equity and equality is emphasized. Empirical results indicate that the need principle is very widespread as a guideline for establishing distributive justice (Schwinger, 1986; Steiner et al., 2006). Therefore, an adaptation of the formula including equity, equality, and need would be desirable. Such an extension of the reward expectation hypothesis is feasible. Future research may investigate under what conditions the need principle – besides equity and equality – is considered in the allocation of rewards.

References Adams, J. S. (1965). Inequity in social exchange. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 267–299). New York: Academic Press. Berger, J., & Fisek, M. H. (2006). Diffuse status characteristics and the spread of status value: A formal theory. American Journal of Sociology, 111, 1038–1079.

Justice in Performance Situations: Compromise Between Equity and Equality


Berger, J., Zelditch, M., Anderson, B., & Cohen, B. P. (1972). Structural aspects of distributive justice: A status value formulation. In J. Berger, M. Zelditch, & B. Anderson (Eds.), Sociological theories in progress (Vol. 2, pp. 110–146). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Bierhoff, H.-W. (1982). Social context as determinant of perceived justice. Zeitschrift f€ ur Sozialpsychologie, 13, 66–78. Bierhoff, H.-W., Buck, E., & Klein, R. (1986). Social context and perceived justice. In H.-W. Bierhoff, R. L. Cohen, & J. Greenberg (Eds.), Justice in social relations (pp. 165–185). New York: Plenum Press. Bierhoff, H.-W., & Jonas, E. (2011). Soziale Interaktion [Social interaction]. In D. Frey & H.-W. Bierhoff (Eds.), Sozialpsychologie – Interaktion und Gruppe. (pp. 131–159). G€ottingen: Hogrefe. Bierhoff, H.-W., & Rohmann, E. (2006). Conditions for establishing a system of fairness: Comment on Brosnan (2006). Social Justice Research, 19, 194–200. Brickman, P., & Bryan, J. H. (1976). Equity versus equality as factors in children’s moral judgments of thefts, charity, and third-party transfers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 757–761. Brosnan, S. F., & Waal, F. B. M. (2003). Monkeys reject unequal pay. Nature, 425, 297–299. Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (1992). Cognitive adaptations for social exchange. In J. H. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), The adapted mind (pp. 163–228). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dalbert, C., & Maes, J. (2002). Belief in a just world as a personal resource in school. In M. Ross & D. T. Miller (Eds.), The justice motive in everyday life (pp. 365–381). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Damon, W. (1977). The social world of the child. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Eagly, A. H. (1987). Sex differences in social behavior: A social-role interpretation. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum. Eagly, A. H., & Karau, S. J. (1991). Gender and the emergence of leaders: A meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 685–710. Feather, N. T. (1999). Values, achievement, and justice. Studies in the psychology of deservingness. New York: Kluwer. Fisek, M. H., & Hysom, S. J. (2008). Status characteristics and reward expectations: A test of a theory of justice in two cultures. Social Science Research, 37, 769–786. Folger, R., & Cropanzano, R. (1998). Organizational justice and human resource management. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Harrod, W. J. (1980). Expectations from unequal rewards. Social Psychology Quarterly, 43, 126–130. Homans, G. C. (1961). Social behavior: Its elementary forms. New York: Harcourt Brace. Kelley, H. H., & Thibaut, J. W. (1978). Interpersonal relations: A theory of interdependence. New York: Wiley. Kienbaum, J., & Wilkening, F. (2009). Children’s and adolescents’ intuitive judgments about distributive justice: Integrating need, effort, and luck. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 6, 481–498. Lerner, M. J. (1981). The justice motive in human relations: Some thoughts on what we know and need to know about justice. In M. J. Lerner & S. C. Lerner (Eds.), The justice motive in social behavior (pp. 11–35). New York: Plenum. Lerner, M. J., Miller, D. T., & Holmes, J. G. (1976). Deserving and the emergence of forms of justice. In L. Berkowitz & E. Walster (Eds.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 9, pp. 133–162). New York: Academic Press. Lind, E. A. (2001). Fairness heuristic theory: Justice judgments as pivotal cognitions in organizational relations. In J. Greenberg & R. Cropanzano (Eds.), Advances in organizational justice (pp. 56–88). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Mealey, L. (1995). The sociobiology of sociopathy – an integrated evolutionary model. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 18, 523–541.


H.-W. Bierhoff and E. Rohmann

Mikula, G. (1972). Reward distribution behavior in dyads under varied performance ratios. Zeitschrift f€ ur Sozialpsychologie, 3, 126–133. Parsons, T. (1952). The social system. London: Tavistock. Piaget, J. (1965). The social judgment of the child. New York: Free Press. Ridgeway, C. L., Backor, K., Li, Y. E., Tinkler, J. E., & Erickson, K. E. (2009). How easily does a social difference become a status distinction? Gender matters. American Sociological Review, 74, 44–62. Rohmann, E., Bierhoff, H.-W., & Schmohr, M. (2011). Narcissism and perceived inequity in attractiveness in romantic relationships. European Psychologist, 16(4). Schwinger, T. (1986). The need principle of distributive justice. In H. W. Bierhoff, R. L. Cohen, & J. Greenberg (Eds.), Justice in social relations (pp. 211–225). New York: Plenum Press. Scott, J. T., & Bornstein, B. H. (2009). What’s fair in foul weather and fair? Distributive justice across different allocation contexts and goods. Journal of Politics, 71, 831–846. Steiner, D. D., Traban, W. A., Haptonstahl, D. E., & Fointiat, V. (2006). The justice of equity, equality, and need in reward distributions: A comparison of French and American respondents. Revue Internationale de Psychologie Sociale, 19, 49–74. Stewart, P., & Moore, J. C. (1992). Wage disparities and performance expectations. Social Psychology Quarterly, 55, 78–85. Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2009). The narcissism epidemic. New York: Free Press. Van den Bos, K., Lind, E. A., & Wilke, H. A. M. (2001). The psychology of procedural and distributive justice viewed from the perspective of fairness heuristic theory. In R. Cropanzano (Ed.), Justice in the workplace (pp. 49–66). Mahwah: Erlbaum. Wood, W., & Eagly, A. H. (2002). A cross-cultural analysis of the behavior of women and men: Implications for the origins of sex differences. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 699–727.

Perceived Justice in the Division of Family Labor: Antecedents and Consequences Gerold Mikula

Abstract Women’s participation in the labor force has dramatically increased in the last decades. Parallel to this development, the multiple work loads of paid labor and family labor and the division of family labor between women and men have become major issues in socio-political discussions and within families. This chapter reports a series of studies of psychological processes which contribute to the connection between the multiple workloads, the division of family labor, and spouses’ relationship satisfaction and well-being. The focus is on the perceived justice in the division of family labor. The studies investigated the role of perceived justice as a possible mediator of the effects of the work load and its division, as well as factors and processes which contribute to the perception of the division of family labor as just or unjust.

Introduction Women’s participation in the labor force has dramatically increased in the last decades. Parallel to this development, the reconciliation of family and paid labor and the difficulties of coping with the multiple workloads have become major issues in socio-political discussions and within families. The difficulty or ease of reconciling family and paid labor depend on a range of factors and conditions being located partly at the political level, partly at the organizational or work-place level, partly at the level of the couple or family, and partly at the individual level. The provision of childcare services and parental leave policies are examples from the socio-political level. Family-friendly policies like flexible labor schedules illustrate conditions at the level of the work place. The division of family labor and spouses’ ability of dyadic coping provide examples from the level of the couple

G. Mikula (*) Department of Psychology, University of Graz, Graz, Austria e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_9, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



G. Mikula

or family. Finally, gender role attitudes, feelings about the workload, and individual coping skills exemplify factors from the individual level. The current chapter deals with the division of family labor between spouses. Shelton and John (1996) p. 300 defined family labor as “unpaid labor done to maintain family members and/or a home”. Family labor comprises tasks like household labor, maintenance and repair tasks, emotional labor, and childcare (Coltrane, 2000). Evidence based on data from various countries shows that women still do most of the family labor, about two thirds on average, even when the two spouses do not differ in their working hours and incomes (Bartley, Blanton, & Gillard, 2005; Davis & Greenstein, 2004; Lothaller, Mikula, & Schoebi, 2009). Further evidence indicates that the imbalance goes along with various negative consequences such as heightened distress, depressive symptoms, relationship conflict, and reduced relationship satisfaction, particularly with women (for reviews, see Coltrane, 2000; Shelton & John, 1996). The imbalance of the division given, the perceived justice in the division of labor within the family would seem to play a major role in the problem of reconciling family labor and paid labor. Justice research provides an extensive body of evidence that subjective perceptions of justice and injustice have important consequences on how people feel and behave in various domains of social life (Greenberg & Colquitt, 2005; Tyler & Smith, 1998). Thus, perceived justice can be expected to matter also within families and with the division of family labor in particular. Evidence shows indeed that perceived justice in the division of family labor is related to individual well-being, relationship satisfaction, frequency of conflict, and the stability of close relationships (e.g., Greenstein, 1996; Grote & Clark, 2001). The present chapter summarizes a series of studies of the current author which aimed at uncovering the psychological processes underlying the associations between the multiple workloads and the division of family labor on the one hand and spouses’ relationship satisfaction and well-being on the other hand. Our focus was on the perceived justice in the division of family labor between spouses. Most studies focused on perceived justice as a possible mediator between the load of family labor and its division between partners and spouses’ well-being and relationship quality. One additional study investigated factors and processes that contribute to the perception of the division of family labor as just or unjust.

Data Basis Our studies have been conducted with data from a European research project on psychological aspects of balancing paid labor and family life in young dual-earner families (see www.eu-project-famwork.org). The data were collected in eight European countries including Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, and the Netherlands in 2003. Couples had to meet the following criteria for participating in the survey: both partners had to be employed at least

Perceived Justice in the Division of Family Labor: Antecedents and Consequences


15 h/week, they had to have at least one preschool-aged child and no child older than 12 years living in their household, and both partners had to be willing to participate in the study. Couples were recruited via public kindergartens and other family institutions, via announcements in offices of pediatricians and at various work places, and by word-of-mouth. With one exception, the studies reported in the present chapter build upon the data from the three German speaking European countries Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The three samples were combined into one single sample for the final statistical analyses in all studies because preliminary multiple-group analyses testing for differences between the national subsamples showed that the main results did not differ between the samples. The sizes of the total samples used in the different studies varied between 389 and 1,512 participants.1

Perceived Justice in the Division of Family Labor as a Mediator Variable The amount of family labor performed by wives is correlated with various psychological outcomes such as well-being and relationship quality as previously mentioned. Theory and research on stress suggest that subjective appraisals are important mediators between stressful conditions and their consequences for individuals’ coping and well-being (e.g., Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).Thus, subjective appraisals can be expected to mediate also the consequences of women’s multiple workloads. Several bodies of evidence lend support to this assumption. For instance, the experience of interferences between paid labor and family obligations proved to be an important mediator of the negative consequences of the multiple loads of paid labor and family labor (e.g., Frone, Russel, & Cooper, 1992). Similarly, wives’ perceived justice in the division of household labor proved to mediate part of the consequences of the imbalanced division to wives’ relationship satisfaction and well-being (Claffey & Mickelson, 2009; Lavee & Katz, 2002; Wilkie, Ferree, & Ratcliff, 1998). We conducted three studies to investigate the relevance of perceived justice as a mediator in more detail than did previous research. The first two studies tested whether perceived justice in the division of family labor acts as a mediator of the association between wives’ multiple workloads and their relationship satisfaction and well-being. Going beyond prior research, both studies considered additional work-related appraisals as potential mediator variables to assess the relative relevance of perceived justice as compared to the respective other variables. Moreover, our studies considered the division of childcare in addition to the division of


The sizes of the samples differ because some studies focused on women only, while others considered women and men. Moreover, one study used the data from seven countries, while the remaining studies were conducted with the data from three countries only.


G. Mikula

household labor because the division of childcare seems particular relevant to dualearner couples with young children. Prior research either focused on household labor only or used an undifferentiated global notion of family labor.

Study 1 Mikula, Riederer, and Bodi (2008) tested the mediation effects of wives’ perceived justice in the divisions of household labor and childcare together with mediation effects of wives’ subjectively felt loads of paid labor, household labor and childcare. We expected that the consequences of the objective loads of paid labor and family labor would be mediated to a large degree by the subjectively felt work loads, which means by the extent to which wives feel their amounts of work to be a burden. Moreover, we predicted that the subjectively felt loads of the two family tasks would contribute to the perceived justice in the divisions of labor and, as a result, the perceived justice would indirectly mediate the associations between the objective loads of the two kinds of family labor and wives’ relationship satisfaction and well-being. We did not expect perceived justice to mediate the effects of the objective load of paid labor because the perceived justice was assessed only concerning the divisions of household labor and childcare in the study. Finally, due to the lack of relevant theory and evidence we did not predict any differences between the perceived justice in the divisions of household labor and childcare. The study used the data of wives from the samples of dual-earner couples from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The data were analyzed by structural equation modeling. The analysis considered (1) the amounts of time women spent on paid labor, household labor, and childcare, (2) the subjectively felt loads of paid labor, household labor and childcare, (3) the perceived justice in the division of household labor and the division of childcare, and (4) wives’ relationship satisfaction and well-being (for details see Mikula et al., 2008). Without presenting all details, the results can be summarized as follows. The effects of the objective loads of paid labor, household labor and childcare on wives’ relationship satisfaction and well-being turned out to be largely mediated by wives’ subjectively felt workloads in the three domains. The more time wives spent on the three tasks, the more they felt the tasks to be a burden, and the more of a burden they felt these tasks the lower their relationship satisfaction and well-being were. The perceived justice was not directly affected by the time women spent on the different tasks and, consequently, did not directly mediate the effects of the objective workloads. But perceived justice partially mediated the effects of the subjectively felt loads. The more of a burden wives felt their household labor and their childcare to be, the less they perceived the divisions of household labor and childcare to be just, and the less justice they perceived, the lower their relationship satisfaction was. Perceived justice proved to be the most important predictor of wives’ relationship satisfaction while wives’ well-being was most effectively predicted by the subjective workloads.

Perceived Justice in the Division of Family Labor: Antecedents and Consequences


Study 2 A study of Andrade and Mikula (n.d.) extended the investigation of Mikula et al. (2008) in two important respects. First, it considered the experience of interferences between paid labor and family obligations in addition to perceived justice in the division of family labor. Second, the study used a more differentiated conceptualization of perceived justice distinguishing between distributive justice and procedural justice. Experiences of interferences or conflicts between paid labor and domestic obligations have been identified as important mediators of various consequences of the multiple loads of paid and family labor in numerous studies (e.g., Frone et al., 1992; Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). Interferences between the two domains of life can go in both directions. Difficulties which arise when demands of paid labor interfere with domestic obligations are usually referred to as work-to-family conflict, while difficulties which follow when demands of the family life interfere with obligations of paid labor are referred to as family-to-work conflict (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985; Marks, 1977). The relevance of these kinds of conflicts given, it seems important to consider them simultaneously with perceived justice to properly assess the specific and independent roles of the three concepts as mediators of the consequences of the multiple loads of paid labor and family labor. We predicted that perceived justice would mediate the effect of the experience of family-to-work conflict on wives’ relationship satisfaction and well-being. No mediation effect of perceived justice was predicted for the effect of the experience of work-to-family conflict because the latter kind of conflict should depend exclusively on the load by paid labor and not on the division of family labor between partners. The simultaneous consideration of distributive and procedural justice adds to our knowledge because prior research dealing with the relevance of perceived justice in the division of family labor focused exclusively on distributive justice and disregarded procedural justice. The justice literature shows, however, that justice judgments do not only refer to distributions but also to the manner in which decisions about the distributions are made, or the procedures by which decisions on distributions are arrived at (Tyler & Smith, 1998). Perceived procedural justice has been found to affect people’s responses in a variety of social settings (Greenberg & Colquitt, 2005; Tyler & Smith, 1998). This evidence given, we hypothesized that procedural justice would matter also with the division of family labor and affect wives’ relationship satisfaction independently of the effects of perceived distributive justice. Our study used data of wives from dual-earner couples with young children from seven different European countries (Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, and Switzerland). Preliminary tests showed no significant differences across national samples. Thus, we combined the six national samples into one single sample. The statistical analysis conducted with structural equation modeling considered (1) the times women spent on paid labor, household labor, and childcare, (2) the amounts of work-to-family conflict and family-to-work conflict


G. Mikula

they experienced, (3) the perceived distributive and procedural justice in the divisions of household labor and childcare, and (4) wives’ relationship satisfaction and well-being. The most important results can be summarized as follows: The effect of the objective load of paid labor on wives’ well-being is completely mediated by the amount of work-to-family conflict experienced by the wives. The amount of time spent on household labor and childcare proved to be irrelevant to both kinds of conflicts and wives’ relationship satisfaction and well-being. But the amount of family-to-work conflict experienced by wives affected wives’ relationship satisfaction and indirectly, via relationship satisfaction, also wives’ well-being. Wives’ perceived justice in the divisions of household labor and childcare partially mediated the effect of the amount of family-to-work conflict. The more wives felt their domestic obligations to interfere with their responsibilities in paid labor, the less they perceived the divisions of household labor and childcare to be just, and the less justice they perceived, the lower their relationship satisfaction was. The perceived distributive justice and the perceived procedural justice contributed independently from each other to the mediation and proved as equally relevant in this respect. Wives’ relationship satisfaction was most effectively predicted by the amount of family-to-work conflict and the perceived justice in the divisions of household labor and childcare, while wives’ well-being was mainly predicted by wives’ time spent on paid labor and the amount of work-to-family conflict wives experienced.

Study 3 A study of Mikula, Riederer, and Bodi (in press) provides further evidence of mediator effects of perceived justice. Different to the research discussed thus far, this study dealt with the division of domestic labor between wives and husbands instead of women’s time spent on household labor and childcare.2 Moreover, and more important, the study tested for mediation effects of distributive and procedural justice not only with women but also with men. (Actually, the study pursued two more goals that will be described later in the Chap. 1 decided to report these goals and the respective results in separate sections to reduce the complexity of the presentation. Note, however, that the respective statistical analyses have been parts of one single structural equation modeling analysis.) The inclusion of men is important because major parts of prior research on the consequences of the multiple workloads of paid and family labor and of the division of labor between wives and husbands have been conducted with women only. The restricted focus on women is understandable because women usually suffer more than men from the multiple workloads and the difficulties of combining paid labor

2 The conceptualization of domestic labor comprised household labor plus maintenance and repair tasks in this study.

Perceived Justice in the Division of Family Labor: Antecedents and Consequences


and domestic demands (Gutek, Searle, & Klepa, 1991). Nevertheless, the narrow focus is unfortunate because justice research identified a variety of differences between women and men, as for instance preference for different distributional allocations and different responsiveness to distributive versus procedural justice. Most important for the present purpose, the few studies on family labor which did consider both sexes found significant associations between perceived justice and relationship quality only for women, or stronger associations for women than men (Blair, 1993; Frisco & Williams, 2003; Perry-Jenkins & Folk, 1994). The gender differences usually are attributed to women’s greater concern for relational issues following from the different socialization of women and men. In the case of perceived justice in the division of domestic labor, women’s greater sensibility to perceived injustice additionally can follow from being disadvantaged by the imbalanced division of domestic labor. Distributive justice theories proposed that the notion of justice generally is more relevant to persons being disadvantaged than to persons being advantaged by a given state of affairs (Buunk & Van Yperen, 1991; Walster, Walster, & Berscheid, 1978). Thus, we hypothesized that the association between the division of domestic labor, perceived justice, and relationship satisfaction will be stronger with wives than with husbands. The study was conducted with data collected from dual-earner couples from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The statistical analysis considered (1) the division of domestic labor between the wife and the husband, (2) the perceived distributive and procedural justice in the division, (3) the amount of relationship conflict experienced,3 and (4) relationship satisfaction (for details, see Mikula et al., in press). The main results of the study were as follows. With wives, the effects of the division of domestic labor on relationship satisfaction were completely mediated by wives’ perceived justice in the division and the procedure leading to the division. The more the division of domestic labor was imbalanced to the disadvantage of the wife, the less wives perceived the division and the procedure leading to the division to be just, and the less distributive and procedural justice wives perceived, the lower their relationship satisfaction was. The results with husbands were very different. Husbands’ perceived justice in the division and the procedure were not significantly associated with the division of domestic labor and with husbands’ relationship satisfaction. Thus, the perceived distributive and the procedural justice seem to be irrelevant to husbands’ relationship satisfaction. The different results with wives and husbands are consistent with previous studies (Blair, 1993; Frisco & Williams, 2003; Perry-Jenkins & Folk, 1994). They support the proposition that justice is more relevant to persons being disadvantaged than to persons being advantaged by a given state of affairs. Alternatively, the different relevance of justice for wives and husbands could follow from differences in men’s and women’s relationship orientation.


This variable will be discussed later in the chapter.


G. Mikula

In our attempt to clarify the psychological processes that underlie the association between the division of domestic labor and spouses’ relationship satisfaction, we additionally considered the amount of conflict the spouses experienced in their relationship. We tested whether the association between perceived justice and relationship satisfaction would be mediated by the experience of conflict in the relationship. The results with wives proved relationship conflict as a significant mediator. The less wives perceived the division and the procedure leading to the division to be just, the more conflict wives experienced, and the more conflict they experienced, the lower their relationship satisfaction was. Perceived distributive and procedural justice again contributed independently of each other to the mediation and proved to be equally relevant in this respect. With husbands, there was also a negative association between conflict and relationship satisfaction. But due to the lack of any associations between perceived distributive and procedural justice and relationship satisfaction, the experience of relationship conflict did not mediate the association between perceived justice and relationship satisfaction.

Conclusions Taken together, our first two studies provided consistent evidence that perceived justice in the division of family labor does not mediate the effects of the objective loads of paid labor and family labor. These effects rather were mediated by wives’ subjectively felt workloads and the mutual interferences wives experienced between their paid labor and family obligations. The perceived justice was important nevertheless because it mediated part of the effects of the subjective appraisals of the workloads and interferences between paid labor and family obligations. All these results apply equally for the divisions of domestic labor and childcare. Our third study showed that the perceived justice completely mediates the consequences of the division of domestic labor between the spouses on wives’ relationship satisfaction. The results indicate that the division of domestic labor itself does not matter, but rather the justice wives perceive in the division and the procedure leading to the division. The perceived distributive justice and procedural justice made independent and equally strong contributions to the mediation effects. The results obtained with husbands in study 3 discussed thus far suggest that the perceived justice in the division of family labor does not matter for husbands’ relationship satisfaction.

Partner Effects of Perceived Justice in the Division of Family Labor Up to now, the discussion focused on perceived justice in the division of family labor as a possible mediator of the consequences of the workload and the division of family labor to the respective person perceiving the division to be just or unjust. But

Perceived Justice in the Division of Family Labor: Antecedents and Consequences


would it not be equally reasonable to assume that the justice perceived in the division by one person can also have consequences for the partner of that person? Previous research has largely disregarded the possibility of such partner effects. Most of the research on the division of family labor focused on individuals and neglected that the division of family labor is a relational phenomenon that is influenced by and has consequences to both partners of a couple. The study of relational phenomena requires dyadic data and appropriate statistical methods (Kenny & Cook, 1999). We used the availability of dyadic data in our data set to test for the occurrence of partner effects in the study of Mikula et al. (in press). Our main goal was to find out whether the justice in the division of domestic labor perceived by one partner has any effects on the relationship satisfaction of the other partner. Such partner effects seem plausible because perceptions of injustice evoke manifold emotional and behavioral responses on the side of the perceiver (Mikula, 1986; Mikula, Scherer, & Athenstaedt, 1998; Tedeschi & Nesler, 1994; Walster et al., 1978). These responses can inform the partner, implicitly or explicitly, of the person’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the given state of affairs and influence the partner’s own affective reaction and behavior. There are only few studies which tested for partner effects of perceived justice in the division of family labor thus far (Blair, 1993; Perry-Jenkins & Folk 1994; Wilkie et al., 1998). They provided some, albeit inconsistent, evidence of partner effects of wives’ perceived justice, but hardly any evidence of partner effects of husbands’ perceived justice. Based on the available evidence we expected that partner effects of perceived justice would be more likely to occur with the justice perceptions of wives than husbands because wives generally are at a disadvantage in the imbalanced division of family labor while husbands can benefit from the imbalance. If wives perceive the imbalance as unjust, they will try to influence the partner to change the existing division and this could increase the relationship conflict experienced by husbands and impair their relationship satisfaction. Such processes would correspond with the asymmetrically structured conflicts between spouses about the division of domestic labor that have been documented by Kluwer and associates (e.g., Kluwer, Heesink, & Van de Vliert, 2000). While wives usually desire a change in the imbalanced division, husbands typically try to maintain the status quo. We expected that wives’ perceived justice would affect the relationship satisfaction of husbands directly as well as indirectly via husbands’ experience of relationship conflict. The previous studies provided no clear basis to expect or not to expect partner effects of husbands’ perceived justice. But we speculated that if such effects occurred, they probably would have a different shape than those of wives. Why should this be the case? Because of the different positions wives and husbands hold concerning the imbalanced division of domestic labor. We supposed that judging the imbalance as unjust would bear completely different meanings when this judgment is made by a person who benefits from the imbalance or when it is made by a person being at a disadvantage. When wives call the division as unjust, they hereby stress the inappropriateness of the imbalanced division of labor. This can lead husbands to experience more relationship conflict and impair their


G. Mikula

relationship satisfaction. When husbands regard the division as unjust, they concede, implicitly at least, that the imbalanced division is inappropriate and should be changed. The concession might reduce the relationship conflict and make it easier for wives to bear the existing imbalance. Accordingly, we would expect that the link between husbands’ perceived justice and the relationship conflict wives experience will show the opposite sign of the link between wives’ perceived justice and husbands’ experience of conflict, if it turned out to be significant at all. Our analysis proved the occurrence of partner effects both with wives and husbands, but with different shapes. Once again, we do not present the results in all details but focus on the most important findings. We found that wives’ perceived distributive and procedural justice affected husbands’ experience of conflict and indirectly, via conflict, also husbands’ relationship satisfaction. The less wives perceived the division and the process leading to the division to be just, the more relationship conflict husbands experienced, and the more they experienced conflict, the lower their relationship satisfaction was. The partner effects of husbands’ perceived distributive justice on wives’ experience of conflict were also significant but with the opposite sign. (No significant partner effect occurred with husbands’ perceived procedural justice.) The less just husbands perceived the division of domestic labor to be, the less relationship conflict wives experienced, and the less they experienced conflict, the higher their relationship satisfaction was. Apparently, husbands’ concession of the inappropriateness of the imbalanced division makes it easier for wives to accept the disadvantageous imbalance and buffers the occurrence of relationship conflict. Taken together, our results indicate that the perceived justice in the division of domestic labor is not only relevant to the respective perceiver of injustice and wives in particular. The perceived justice by one of the partners also has immediate consequences to the other partner and to the relationship between the spouses. The results underline the importance of considering the relational character of the division of family labor. Analyzing the data of individuals only would have lead to the wrong conclusion that the perceived justice in the division matters for women but not for men. The simultaneous consideration of the data of both partners provided a much more complex pattern. First, the perceived justice in the division of family labor matters for the relationship satisfaction of husbands as well. But it is the justice perceived by their wife and not the justice they perceive themselves which affects husbands’ relationship satisfaction. Second, partner effects occurred with wives’ as well as husbands’ perceived justice. But their shapes were different with wives and husbands, indicating that judgments of the justice of a given division of family labor bear different meanings depending upon whether the person making the respective judgment suffers or benefits from the given state of affairs. Finally, the justice perceived by wives and husbands affects the relationship satisfaction of their respective partner not directly but indirectly via the relationship conflict he or she experienced. This evidence provides a clue about the social processes that underlie the association between the division of domestic labor and spouses’ relationship satisfaction, even though the processes have not been directly tested in our research.

Perceived Justice in the Division of Family Labor: Antecedents and Consequences


Factors Contributing to the Perceived Justice in the Division of Family Labor The studies discussed thus far provided strong evidence for the relevance of perceived justice to spouses and their relationship. This relevance given, it seems important to learn more about the factors and processes which contribute to the perception of the division of family labor as just or unjust. We investigated this topic in detail in a study of Mikula, Schoebi, Jagoditsch, and Macher (2009). The study was guided by the propositions of the distributive justice framework of women’s justice perceptions of Thompson (1991) and Major (1993). These authors proposed that women evaluate justice according to their sense of entitlement concerning the division of family labor (i.e., according to what they think is appropriate for them or what they deserve). The degree of imbalance of the division is of secondary relevance only according to this view. Moreover, the distributive justice framework proposes that women’s sense of entitlement concerning family labor builds upon three components: (1) the comparison standards women use to evaluate their situation, (2) valued outcomes, that is what women value about family labor, and (3) perceived justifications legitimating the current division of labor. Our study tested a large number of putative predictors of perceived justice in the division of family labor. The predictors were selected to represent each of the three components with multiple measures (for details, see Mikula et al., 2009). The study considered the justice perceptions of wives as well as husbands, and the divisions of domestic labor as well as childcare. We used the data of dual-earner couples from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. The data were analyzed with a dyadic multiple regressions analysis in a structural equation modeling framework. We considered three kinds of comparisons which have been proposed to be particularly important in the context of family labor (Buunk & Van Yperen, 1991; Thompson, 1991): the comparison between the amounts of family labor performed by the wife and the husband, the comparison between the amounts performed by the wife and by other wives, and the comparison between the amounts performed by the husband and by other husbands. The participants were asked to indicate (a) the outcome of each of the three comparisons (i.e., how much of the domestic labor they did as compared to their partner) and (b) how often they made each of the three comparisons. The distributive justice framework and prior research suggest that the three kinds of comparisons have different consequences for the justice assessments of the existing division of family labor. Comparisons between the amounts of labor performed by the wife and the husband reflect the existing imbalance of the division and, thus, likely increase the perceived injustice. Comparisons between the amounts performed by the wife and other wives can diminish the perceived injustice because other wives likely do similar amounts of family labor, and, thus, make the current division appear less inappropriate and unjust. Similarly, comparisons between the husband and other husbands can diminish the perceived injustice when they lead to the conclusion that the husband performs a similar amount of family labor as other husbands. Accordingly, we expected that wives


G. Mikula

would perceive the division of family labor to be less just (a) the more frequently they compare the amount of family labor they perform themselves with the amount performed by their husband, (b) the more they think they are doing more family labor than their husband, (c) the more they think they are doing more family labor than other women and (d) the more they think their husband is doing less family labor than other husbands.4 (Mikula et al. (2009) formulated hypotheses only for wives because the lack of relevant theory and the shortage of studies conducted with both sexes prevented us from formulating specific hypotheses concerning differences or correspondences between wives and husbands.) The concept of valued outcomes of family labor was operationalized with the perceived gratification resulting from doing family labor and the perceived appreciation of one’s work by the partner. We expected that wives would perceive the division of family labor to be less just, the less gratification they felt from doing family labor and the less appreciation they perceived to get from their partner. Finally, the concept of justifiability or legitimacy of the imbalanced division of family labor was operationalized with wives’ and husbands’ time spent on paid labor and the socioeconomic status (SES) of the two spouses.5 We expected that wives would perceive the division to be less just, the less time their husband and the more time they spent on paid labor themselves, and the lower the husband’s SES and the higher their own SES were. The results showed that four of the factors which we considered as putative predictors were particularly relevant to the perceived justice in the division of family labor. The first factor was the frequency of comparing the amounts of family labor performed by the wife and the husband. The more often wives and husbands thought about how much family labor they do themselves and how much their partner does, the less they perceived the division to be just. The second most important factor was the outcome of the comparison of the amounts of family labor performed by the husband and other husbands. The more wives and husbands thought that the husband is doing less family labor than other husbands, the less wives and husbands perceived the division to be just. The appreciation of one’s family labor by the partner was another strong predictor of perceived justice. The less appreciation wives and husbands felt to get from their partner for the family labor they performed, the less they perceived the division to be just. Finally, the balance of the division of family labor also made a major contribution to the perceived justice, but only with wives and not with husbands. The more imbalanced the division of labor was to the disadvantage of the wife, the less wives perceived

4 For the sake of brevity, I describe the hypotheses for family labor in general and not separately for domestic labor and childcare. But we tested them separately with the two domains of family labor. 5 Originally, we planned to use the difference between the SES of the wife and the husband. This would have required simultaneous consideration of the difference measure and the two individual SES measures in the analysis. But the estimation of a model containing all three measures was problematic because of the high correlations between the variables.

Perceived Justice in the Division of Family Labor: Antecedents and Consequences


the division to be just. Several other variables also contributed significantly to the perceived justice of wives and husbands, but with less strong effects: the outcome of the comparison of the amounts of family labor performed by the wife and the husband, the time wives spent on paid labor, wives’ SES and, with wives only, the time husbands spent on family labor. Wives and husbands perceived the divisions of family labor to be less just, the more they thought the wife is doing more family labor than the husband, the more time the wife spent on paid labor, the higher the wife’s SES was and, with wives only, the less time their husband spent on domestic labor and childcare. The remaining variables did not significantly contribute to the prediction of the perceived justice in the divisions of domestic labor and childcare. Taken together, our results proved the relevance of social comparisons, valued outcomes and justifications, even though not all variables considered contributed to the prediction of the perceived justice in the division of family labor. Our results provide strong support for the proposition of the distributive justice framework that the balance of the division of family labor is less relevant to the perceived justice than social comparisons, valued outcomes, and justifications, which shape wives’ sense of entitlement concerning family labor. The latter factors explained three times more variance of perceived justice than the balance of the division itself, which proved as significant only with wives and not with husbands. Generally speaking, the results with wives and husbands turned out very similar. This indicates that the factors and processes which contribute to the perception of the division of family labor as just or unjust are largely the same with both sexes, in spite of the different positions wives and husbands hold concerning the division of family labor. No differences at all occurred between domestic labor and childcare.

Concluding Remarks The research reported in this chapter highlights the division of family labor between wives and husbands and the perceived justice in the division as key elements of the problem of reconciling family and paid labor. The consequences of wives’ felt workloads, wives’ experiences of interferences between paid labor and family obligations, and of the division of family labor proved to be mediated to a large degree by the perceived justice in the division. The evidence of partner effects indicates that the perceived justice affects not only the person who perceives the division to be just or unjust but also the partner of that person and the relationship between the partners. From a practical point of view, it would thus be important that spouses arrive at a division of family labor which they consensually regard to be just. But this cannot automatically be achieved with a balanced division of family labor between the wife and the husband, as frequently claimed in the public discourse. The balance of the division, though certainly important for the achievement of gender equality, is only one of several factors which modulate justice evaluations of the division of family labor and by far not the most important one. Moreover, it is not only the perceived justice in the division which matters but also


G. Mikula

the perceived justice of the procedure by which the spouses arrived at the division given in their relationship. Last but not least, the differing effects of justice judgments concerning the division of family labor made by wives and husbands add to the complexity. The achievement of a division of family labor which both spouses consensually perceive to be just, thus, will continue to be a tough and challenging task for each individual couple. The current results at least provide some hints as to factors and processes that need to be considered by couples in their search for such a division. Acknowledgements The current research was supported by a grant awarded to the FamWork Consortium by the European Commission (SERD-2002-00011) and by a grant awarded to the author by the Austrian Science Fund (project P18817-G14). I thank Claudia Andrade and Bernhard Riederer for their helpful comments on a draft version of this chapter.

References Andrade, C., & Mikula, G. (n.d.). Work/family conflicts and perceived justice as mediators of outcomes of women’s multiple workloads. Manuscript in preparation. Bartley, S., Blanton, P., & Gilliard, J. (2005). Husbands and wives in dual-earner marriages: Decision-making, gender role attitudes, division of household labor, and equity. Marriage & Family Review, 37, 69–94. Blair, S. L. (1993). Employment, family, and perceptions of marital quality among husbands and wives. Journal of Family Issues, 14, 189–212. Buunk, B. P., & VanYperen, N. W. (1991). Referential comparisons, relational comparisons, and exchange orientation: Their relation to marital satisfaction. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17, 709–717. Claffey, S. T., & Mickelson, K. D. (2009). Division of household labor and distress: The role of perceived fairness for employed mothers. Sex Roles, 60, 819–831. Coltrane, S. (2000). Research on household labor: Modeling and measuring the social embeddedness of routine family work. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1208–1233. Davis, S. N., & Greenstein, T. N. (2004). Cross-national variations in the division of household labor. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66, 1260–1271. Frisco, M. L., & Williams, K. (2003). Perceived domestic work equity, marital happiness, and divorce in dual-earner households. Journal of Family Issues, 24, 51–73. Frone, M. R., Russel, M., & Cooper, M. L. (1992). Antecedents and outcomes of work-family conflict: Testing a model of the work-family interface. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 65–78. Greenberg, J., & Colquitt, J. A. (2005). Handbook of organizational justice. Mahwah: Erlbaum. Greenhaus, J. H., & Beutell, N. J. (1985). Sources of conflict between work and family roles. Academy of Management Review, 10, 76–88. Greenstein, T. N. (1996). Gender ideology and perceptions of the fairness of the division of household labor: Effects on marital quality. Social Forces, 74, 1029–1042. Grote, N. K., & Clark, M. S. (2001). Perceiving unfairness in the family: Cause or consequence of marital distress? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 281–293. Gutek, B., Searle, S., & Klewpa, L. (1991). Rational versus gender role explanations for work/ family conflict. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76, 560–568. Kenny, D. A., & Cook, W. L. (1999). Partner effects in relationship research: Conceptual issues, analytic difficulties, and illustrations. Personal Relationships, 6, 433–448.

Perceived Justice in the Division of Family Labor: Antecedents and Consequences


Kluwer, E. S., Heesink, J. A. M., & Van de Vliert, E. (2000). The division of labor in close relationships: An asymmetrical conflict issue. Personal Relationships, 7, 263–282. Lavee, Y., & Katz, R. (2002). Division of labor, perceived fairness, and marital quality: The effect of gender ideology. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 64, 27–39. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal and coping. New York: Springer. Lothaller, H., Mikula, G., & Schoebi, D. (2009). What contributes to the (im)balanced division of family work between the sexes? Swiss Journal of Psychology, 68, 143–153. Major, B. (1993). Gender, entitlement and the distribution of family labor. Journal of Social Issues, 49, 141–159. Marks, S. R. (1977). Multiple roles and role strain: Some notes on human energy, time and commitment. American Sociological Review, 42, 921–936. Mikula, G. (1986). The experience of injustice: Toward a better understanding of its phenomenology. In H. W. Bierhoff, R. L. Cohen, & J. Greenberg (Eds.), Justice in social relations (pp. 103–124). New York: Plenum. Mikula, G., Riederer, B., & Bodi, O. (2008). Wives’s professional and familial work loads, relationship satisfaction, and well-being: The mediating role of subjective work loads and perceived justice of the division of family work. In A. M. Fontaine & M. Matias (Eds.), Work, family and personal dynamics: International perspectives (pp. 65–78). Porto: Legis/LivPsic. Mikula, G., Riederer, B., & Bodi, O. (in press). Perceived justice in the division of domestic labor: Actor and partner effects. Personal Reletionships. Mikula, G., Scherer, K. R., & Athenstaedt, U. (1998). The role of injustice in the elicitation of differential emotional responses. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24, 769–783. Mikula, G., Schoebi, D., Jagoditsch, S., & Macher, S. (2009). Roots and correlates of perceived injustice in the division of family work. Personal Relationships, 16, 553–674. Perry-Jenkins, M., & Folk, K. (1994). Class, couples, and conflict: Effects of the division of labor on assessments of marriage in dual-earner families. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 56, 165–180. Shelton, B. A., & John, D. (1996). The division of household labor. Annual Review of Sociology, 22, 299–322. Tedeschi, J. T., & Nesler, M. (1994). Grievances: Development and reaction. In R. Felson & J. T. Tedeschi (Eds.), Aggression and violence. An interactionist approach (pp. 13–45). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Thompson, L. (1991). Family work: Women’s sense of fairness. Journal of Family Issues, 12, 181–196. Tyler, T. R., & Smith, H. J. (1998). Social justice and social movements. In D. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 595–629). New York: McGraw-Hill. Walster, E. G., Walster, W., & Berscheid, E. (1978). Equity: Theory and research. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Wilkie, J. R., Ferree, M. M., & Ratcliff, K. S. (1998). Gender fairness: Marital satisfaction in twoearner couples. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 577–594.


Retributive Punishment in a Social Context Mario Gollwitzer, Livia Keller, and Judith Braun

Abstract In the present chapter, the authors discuss to what extent laypersons’ punitive attitudes and their preferences for different sanctions are shaped by the social context in which a transgression has occurred. First, recent developments in the psychological literature on punishment principles, forms, goals, and attitudes are reviewed. Second, parameters of the social context in which retribution takes place are discussed. These parameters include the offender’s social category, group-level status and power, and the normative implication of the offense, among others. Finally, some thoughts are spent on possible intergroup dynamics underlying the decision to treat outgroup offenders more leniently than ingroup offenders. The authors argue that such leniency can sometimes be detrimental in that it fosters intergroup conflicts rather than reducing them.

Introduction The fact that people care about justice, and that this motivation extends beyond instrumental concerns for oneself, can be clearly observed in the context of public reactions to criminal offenses. In summer 2009, three Swiss teenagers were accused of brutally attacking several people, among them a businessman and a handicapped person, in Munich. Because the incident happened in Germany, the teenagers were sentenced by German law, facing up to 10 years of prison whereas the maximal sentence in Switzerland was only 4 years. The incident generated countless letters to newspapers and online comments by Swiss people. They expressed their concerns that the teenagers had discredited their country, and some commentators apologized to the Germans. Many of them said that they were satisfied that the

M. Gollwitzer (*) • L. Keller • J. Braun Department of Psychology, Philipps-University Marburg, Marburg, Germany e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_10, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



M. Gollwitzer et al.

teenagers were sentenced according to German law, and they called for the toughest possible punishment to be meted out.1 The observation that public interest in those cases is usually quite strong can be taken as another argument that people truly care about appropriate sanctioning. The execution of Teresa Lewis by the state of Virginia in September 2010 and the heated debate whether or not capital punishment can be considered appropriate in the case of a mentally impaired woman is another good example for the public interest in retribution. Online articles on news websites all around the world were supplemented with thousands of comments, many of them expressing strong emotional reactions, and almost all of them containing judgments on fairness and justice.2 The psychological literature on retributive justice, on the question what ordinary people, juridical laypersons, so to speak, consider right vs. wrong, fair vs. unfair, deserved vs. undeserved, has been particularly growing since the 1980s. Among the perpetual questions that have been – and are still being – addressed by this research are why people are so strongly interested in retributive justice (even when the case that sparked this interest happened on the other side of the world), how people’s punishment goals can be systematized and classified, which (personal, social, situational) factors predict people’s attitudes and judgments on retributive justice, how punitive attitudes are motivated, to what extent these attitudes are shaped and accompanied by emotions, and what social and individual functions punitive sanctions – assumedly and actually – have. One aspect that has accompanied this research from the beginning, but has, in our view, not been highlighted enough, is that punitive attitudes and judgments are strongly shaped by the social context in which they emerge. This is, of course, the case in all other areas of social justice (distributive, procedural, etc.) as well: “Justice or injustice cannot be defined apart from the context of action where it might be relevant” (Hogan & Emler, 1981, p. 127). However, the contextualization of retributive justice appears to be different from that in other areas of justice because of two particularities: First, for many offenses that are codified in penal law, the power to enact retributive justice is, in most societies, taken away from the individual and transferred to the state. Second, retributive justice implies a much more direct notion of social control than, for example, procedural justice (Miller & Vidmar, 1981). In other words, retributive justice seems to be connected to questions of functionality: Legal scholars, retributive justice researchers, and the general public would probably all agree that punishment should be “effective”. The question of effectiveness, of the instrumentality of retributive punishment, and – ultimately – of the meaning of punishment in a social community, however, appears to be much more tricky and complex than it does on first glance.


http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss_news/Swiss_teen_confesses_in_Munich_rampage_case.html? cid¼28549808. 2 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/21/teresa-lewis-supreme-court-mentally-disabled_n_734081. html.

Retributive Punishment in a Social Context


In the present chapter, we will focus on the meaning of punishment. First, we will briefly review research on assumed “principles” of retributive justice and punishment goals. Second, we will sketch some social context phenomena that are related to retributive punishment. Third and finally, we will take a closer look on the opposite side of punishment, that is, restorative justice, forgiveness, and leniency, and we will discuss whether these reactions to moral (or even criminal) offenses can also be regarded as socially functional.

Punishment Principles and Punishment Goals The question how punishment can and should be justified generated two broad positions. Immanuel Kant (1797/1968) argued that the primary reason for punishing criminal offenders is to rebalance the moral scale that was disequilibrated by the offenders’ deed. According to this retributive view, punishment is appropriate if the severity of a sentence is proportionate to the magnitude of harm and to the offender’s criminal intent. By contrast, Jeremy Bentham saw punishment as an evil, which “ought only to be admitted in as far as it promises to exclude some greater evil” (1830/2008, p. 23). Following this utilitarian stance, the principal aim of punishment is to prevent future crimes by deterrence. More recently, the category of utilitarian punishment goals was further subdivided into general deterrence (deterring the perpetrator or the public), rehabilitation (helping the offender not to reoffend), and incapacitation (keeping dangerous offenders behind bars). Whereas legal philosophers dispute over what a sanction ought to achieve on the basis of moral and ethical principles, social psychologists are more interested in what laypersons think a sanction ought to achieve. Empirical research has therefore assessed to what extent laypersons endorse legal punishment goals, how goal preferences can best be predicted and which punishment attitudes they predict. A first important finding of this research is that, when explicitly asked about their punishment goals, laypersons usually endorse all of them (Darley, 2002; Doble, 2002). A very different picture emerges, however, when indirect measures of punishment goal endorsement are applied: These studies suggest that people’s punitive attitudes are largely shaped by retributive (“just deserts”) concerns (Carlsmith, 2006; Carlsmith, Darley, & Robinson, 2002; Keller, Oswald, Stucki, & Gollwitzer, 2010). For example, when seeking information about a criminal offense, people often concentrate on those pieces of information that are relevant for judging the proportionality of a sanction, whereas pieces of information that are relevant for judging the instrumentality of a sanction in terms of crime prevention seem to be less important. Another noteworthy finding is that laypersons do not think either in retributivistic or in utilitarian terms of punishment. Whereas on a conceptual level, the “big two” classical principles or justifications are mutually exclusive (i.e., negatively correlated), subjective endorsements of punishment goals are empirically uncorrelated (cf. Oswald, Hupfeld, Klug, & Gabriel, 2002) or even positively correlated


M. Gollwitzer et al.

(cf. Orth, 2003). A positive correlation between punishment goals suggests that there is a common underlying factor (general punitiveness or the subjective centrality of retributive punishment); a zero correlation suggests that the extent to which a person endorses “just deserts” as a punishment goal does not predict to what extent he or she also endorses deterrence (and vice versa). This, in turn, suggests that punishment goals should not be treated as a one-dimensional construct (Oswald et al., 2002). It can even be doubted that the categories of legal punishment goals correspond with people’s lay conceptualizations of sanctioning. A third important finding is that punishment goals are not necessarily related to preferences for particular forms of punishment. Although endorsing “just deserts” is more strongly related to preferences for prototypically retributive sanctioning forms (e.g., imprisonment) than to preferences for prototypically restorative sanctioning forms (e.g., victim-offender mediation), this difference is not that large (Gollwitzer & B€ucklein, 2007; Oswald et al., 2002). Regarding punishment severity, the correlation between endorsing “just deserts” and the amount of punishment (e.g., years in prison or height of fine) that is considered appropriate in a given case is not substantially higher than the correlation between endorsing “general deterrence” and punishment severity (Gollwitzer & B€ucklein, 2007). A number of studies indicate that the endorsement of punishment goals does not unequivocally point to more lenient or harsher sanctions (Oswald et al., 2002). The endorsement of punishment goals therefore does not seem to be the most important predictor of punitive attitudes and preferences for specific sanctioning forms. Thus, the question emerges what better predicts punitive attitudes and sanctioning preferences. We propose that one of the most promising candidate predictors is the social context in which a transgression occurred. We further propose that characteristics of the social context shape (a) which functions a possible sanction should have (e.g., promote ingroup cohesion or reintegrate the offender, cf. Okimoto & Wenzel, 2009), and (b) to which extent a particular sanctioning form is subjectively considered “effective” to fulfill this function.

Social Context Phenomena The notion that the social context shapes laypersons’ punitive attitudes resonates with a large body of research in different domains of social psychology and the retributive justice literature. For illustrative purposes, we will only mention three examples: the “black sheep effect”, intragroup dynamics, and value threat.

The “Black Sheep Effect” The “Black Sheep Effect” (BSE; cf. Marques, Abrams, & Seroˆdio, 2001; Marques & Pa´ez, 1994; Marques, Yzerbyt, & Leyens, 1988) describes the finding that

Retributive Punishment in a Social Context


deviant ingroup members are judged more negatively by their peers than deviant outgroup members. In the context of criminal offenses, a BSE would mean that an ingroup offender is punished more harshly than an outgroup offender. Some studies found this effect (e.g., Shinada, Yamagishi, & Ohmura, 2004), others, however, found exactly the opposite pattern (e.g., Lieberman & Linke, 2007). This suggests that the effect of the offender’s social category on punitive responses depends on moderator variables. Many of these moderator variables have to do with the social context in which the transgression occurred. Intergroup status differences (van Prooijen & Lam, 2007) or the salience of intergroup stereotypes (Sommers & Ellsworth, 2000) have been identified as moderators of a BSE. Another group of moderator variables has to do with characteristics of the offender, such as the probability that he or she is actually guilty (Kerr, Hymes, Anderson, & Weathers, 1995; Taylor & Hosch, 2004; van Prooijen, 2006) or his or her record of prior transgressions (Gollwitzer & Keller, 2010). We suggest that the underlying function of punishing a “black sheep” is to reassert the normative cohesion of the ingroup. The social context, that is, the offender’s group membership, determines to what extent a norm violation threatens the group’s cohesiveness. If an offender belongs to the same group as the judging person, the offense is more likely to be conceptualized as a threat to the group’s norms and values. An ingroup member who expresses disrespect for ingroup norms questions the validity of those norms and therefore, undermines the group’s normative cohesion (Abrams, Marques, Bown, & Henson, 2000; Abrams, Marques, Randsley de Moura, Hutchison, & Bown, 2004; Marques et al., 2001; Vidmar, 2002). Thus, finding out about the offender’s motives, intentions, and dispositions is crucial for ingroup members in order to evaluate how far the group’s normative cohesion is at stake. On the other hand, if an offender belongs to a different group than the judging person, the offense is less likely to be conceptualized as an attack to the group’s normative cohesion. Concerns about the validity of shared norms and the normative cohesion within one’s group are less important in this case. In line with that reasoning, Gollwitzer and Keller (2010) showed that repeat ingroup offenders are more severely punished than first-time ingroup offenders, and that this effect was mediated by concerns about society’s normative cohesion. In case of an outgroup offender, however, concerns about cohesiveness did not predict punishment severity. We will come back to these concerns when we discuss the concept of “value threat”.

Inter- and Intragroup Dynamics The BSE implies that laypersons’ punitive attitudes are shaped by the offender’s social category, which is whether he or she is one of “us” or rather one of “them”. Furthermore, recent research has shown that not only harshness of penalty, but also subjective preferences for different sanctioning forms are predicted by the offender’s social category: For example, restorative procedures are preferred


M. Gollwitzer et al.

when the offender and the judging person share a common identity (Okimoto, Wenzel, & Feather, 2009; Okimoto, Wenzel, & Platow, 2010; Wenzel, Okimoto, Feather, & Platow, 2010; Wenzel & Thielmann, 2006; but see also Gromet & Darley, 2009a), which suggests that these procedures may be regarded as more effective for reestablishing value consensus with the offender and for reintegrating him or her into the social community than retributive sanctioning forms. On first glance, this seems to be at odds with a BSE account. However, it makes sense on the basis of a social functionality account of punishment. If the common identity with the offender is salient in a given context, then the function of offender integration (and establishing value consensus with him or her) is more likely to be dominant. There may be boundary conditions to this effect, for example, the presence of other groups, the degree to which other group members may be negatively influenced by the offender’s behavior, or if the offender is excluded from the ingroup. These contextual factors should influence which function of a sanction is dominant: For example, if there is reason to believe that the offender’s behavior diminishes the group’s status and power relative to other groups, then the sanction should aim at reestablishing status, power, and the group’s functioning. If there is reason to believe that the offender’s behavior undermines the group’s value system, then the sanction should send a clear signal to other group members that the values are still in force. In both examples, this shift in dominant functions would probably imply that other forms of sanctions (i.e., more prototypically “retributive” or punitive sanctions) or more severe sanctions are preferred. In line with this reasoning, previous research found that social context variables (e.g., ingroup status) differently affected punishment attitudes in an intra- vs. intergroup situation. Outgroup offenders were less harshly punished when ingroup status was high than when ingroup status was low (van Prooijen & Lam, 2007). Interestingly, however, an effect of ingroup status did not emerge in the case of an ingroup offender. When ingroup status was high, an ingroup offender was punished more harshly than an outgroup offender. Another possible explanation why (and when) outgroup offenders are treated more leniently when ingroup status is high will be given later.

Value Threat The line of reasoning that has been outlined in the previous section suggests that as soon as there is reason to believe that the group’s normative cohesion is at stake, the dominant function of punishment is to send a clear signal to the rest of the group that the norm is still valid. This hypothesis resonates with research on the importance of values for the social identity of a group (Hogg, 2000; Turner, 1987). Because norm violations imply disrespect for norms and values (Miller, 2001), they not only harm the victim(s), but also – albeit more indirectly – the social community the offender and the victim belong to. We will refer to the perception that communal values are threatened as ‘value threat’, and we argue that value threat is associated with a) a shared desire to revalidate the values, and b) to

Retributive Punishment in a Social Context


stronger support for retributive sanctioning and/or less support for restorative sanctioning forms. Theoretical reasoning and empirical evidence suggest a link between group value concerns and retributive sanctions. Sanctions convey a certain meaning: Imprisonment unequivocally communicates moral condemnation and social exclusion of an offender (Kahan, 1996) whereas restorative proceedings express that the offender is still a member of the community (Duff, 2001). Gromet and Darley (2009b, Study 2) found that in order to reinforce community values, public condemnation and imprisonment were seen as far more appropriate than typical restorative sanctions. In their field study, Tyler and Boeckmann (1997) sought to predict support for the three-strikes initiative in the state of California. Concerns about society’s normative cohesion emerged as the most powerful predictor for this relatively harsh initiative. In three studies, we were able to find preliminary support for our reasoning (Keller & Gollwitzer, 2011): The perception of value threat was more predictive of punishment attitudes than individual differences in general punitiveness or authoritarianism. Moreover, mediation analyses showed that under high value threat, retributive – but not restorative – sanctions were regarded as more effective for restoring justice. It seems that people support retributive sanctions in a threatening context not because of utilitarian concerns but because of “just deserts”. In sum, the perception of threatened values appears to be a valuable predictor of punishment attitudes. However, more research is needed to identify possible preconditions for perceptions of value threat. Mixed evidence was found for Vidmar’s (2002) assumption that ingroup offenders evoke higher value threat than outgroup offenders (Keller & Gollwitzer, 2011). Other preconditions for perceived value threat include beliefs that a group’s normative cohesion is at stake (cf. Gollwitzer & Keller, 2010), or threats from outside the group (Brewer, 1999). Taken together, we aimed to provide exemplary evidence for the notion that the social context systematically shapes which punishment functions are dominant in a

given situation. Of course, then, reactions to transgressions that are considered particularly suitable for fulfilling the respective function are preferred over other possible sanctioning forms (see also Gromet & Darley, 2009b).

Beyond Punishment In the previous paragraphs, we have primarily talked about negative forms of reactions to wrongdoings. We have, at some points, also mentioned restorative procedures that can be regarded as positive alternatives to punishment. In the final section of this chapter, we will briefly review these and other seemingly “positive” reactions to wrongdoings, including forgiveness and leniency, and we will discuss whether and when these reactions may also be conceptualized as more or less “functional” within a given social context. Finally, we will discuss whether


M. Gollwitzer et al.

leniency towards outgroup offenders can unanimously be regarded as beneficial for the intergroup situation – we think that this is not always the case.

Restorative Procedures Restorative procedures aim to bring the affected parties, that is, the victim(s), the offender(s), and the community back to where they were before the transgression occurred (Bazemore, 1998; Braithwaite, 2002; Gromet & Darley, 2006; Strang, 2002). Hereby, a punishment’s primary function is to compensate, benefit, and heal rather than to punish and to reciprocate (Braithwaite & Strang, 2001). Typically, suitable sanctioning forms are restorative justice conferences, formal apologies, monetary compensation, or community service. By engaging in a constructive dialogue, the affected parties can gain a shared understanding of the offense, of the harm caused, and of ways to repair this harm. With regard to the offender, Wenzel, Okimoto, Feather, and Platow (2008) argue that the primary function of restorative justice is reeducation and a reinforcement of the validity of communal values. Offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions.

Intergroup Forgiveness One of the positive reactions to wrongdoings is forgiving. Forgiving can happen on the interpersonal and on the intergroup level. Intergroup forgiveness plays a pivotal role in large-scale conflicts such as those in Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine, and it is a necessary step on the way to peace and reconciliation. Examples for the public demonstration of intergroup forgiveness are public apologies, like Stephen Harper’s apology to Canada’s First Nations for a century of child abuse and assimilation policies at government-run residential schools for aboriginals in 2008,3 or truth commissions, like the Truth and Reconciliation commission in South Africa.4 Achieving intergroup forgiveness is very difficult, even more difficult than achieving interpersonal forgiveness. Intergroup forgiveness differs qualitatively from interpersonal forgiveness, since it implies overcoming the ingroup bias and reducing negative feelings towards the perpetrator’s whole group rather than the individual (Myers, Hewstone, & Cairns, 2009; Wohl & Branscombe, 2005). Because intergroup forgiveness is so important, social psychologists have been looking for factors that encourage it. Factors that have been identified so far are

3 4

http://www.trc-cvr.ca/. http://www.justice.gov.za/trc/.

Retributive Punishment in a Social Context


intergroup trust, intergroup empathy, and identifying with a superordinate identity (Cehajic, Brown, & Castano, 2008; Tam et al., 2008). Thus, to really forgive the perpetrator group, members of the victimized group should be willing to take the other party’s perspective and to understand how they feel. Furthermore, forgiving has been found to require the development of trust in the other group, trust that they will live up to their part of the agreement and not harm the victim group again. Moreover, when members of the victimized group identify with a superordinate identity, which comprises their own and the perpetrator group, they are more willing to forgive. Noor and colleagues (Noor, Brown, Gonzalez, Manzi, & Lewis, 2008) found that the more Catholic and Protestant respondents identified with the superordinate category “Northern Ireland”, the more they were willing to forgive the other religious group. Factors that have been found to impede intergroup forgiveness are anger, infrahumanization (a tendency to regard outgroup members as less human than ingroup members), and a strong identification with the ingroup (Myers et al., 2009; Tam et al., 2008). Hence, intergroup forgiveness can only occur if the parties let go of their anger and consider members of the other party as equal human beings. Apart from the aforementioned factors, there are basic conditions that have to be met in order to make forgiveness stable and authentic. Intergroup forgiveness only works if it is not a product of the influence of religious, governmental, or political authorities, or a result from instrumental concerns. In order to lead to peace and reconciliation, forgiveness needs to be voluntary and deeply felt and requires genuine engagement (Staub & Pearlman, 2006).

Leniency As mentioned above, the “Black Sheep Effect” describes the finding that ingroup offenders are more harshly evaluated than outgroup offenders. In the context of criminal offenses, this effect only seems to occur under certain circumstances that are connected to the social context (see Sect. ‘The “Black Sheep Effect”’). Irrespective of such moderating factors, it is important to note that an effect of the offender’s social category on punitive attitudes and/or preferences for sanctioning forms can potentially be “driven” by the ingroup offender condition, by the outgroup offender condition, or by both conditions. More precisely, the BSE could be produced by harsher judgments for the ingroup offender, by more lenient judgments for the outgroup offender, or both. We have already mentioned a study (van Prooijen & Lam, 2007) in which the BSE appears to be mainly driven by the outgroup offender condition. There are other studies in which outgroup offenders are punished more leniently than ingroup offenders. For example, Feather and Souter (2002) found that an Aboriginal Australian offender was considered as less responsible for a case of theft, and, accordingly, was perceived as less deserving of the sentence than a White Australian perpetrator who committed the same offense. In the same vein, Gordon (1993)


M. Gollwitzer et al.

showed that black offenders were assigned more lenient sentencing decisions than white delinquents (see also Feather & Oberdan, 2000; Gordon, Bindrim, McNicholas, & Walden, 1988; Kemmelmeier, 2005). What does it mean when an outgroup offender is treated more leniently than an ingroup offender? Can such leniency be considered a “positive” way of reacting towards wrongdoings, like in the case of restorative procedures or intergroup forgiveness? We would like to argue that this might be the case sometimes, but that such outgroup leniency can also be functional for maintaining and fostering ingroup superiority. By behaving mildly towards outgroup offenders, the ingroup can create a vacuum state in which the outgroup is stripped of opportunities to claim more positive treatment. To the best of our knowledge, such forms of strategic reactions to wrongdoings in an intergroup context have never been empirically investigated. However, we think that they do occur in real life, maybe more often than we are aware of. We will refer to such behavior as “patronizing leniency” in the remainder of this chapter. Similar cases in which outgroup members are treated more positively than ingroup members have been described in the psychological literature on prejudice and discrimination. For example, Dienstbier (1970) described the concept of positive prejudice, and Dutton (1971, 1973) introduced the term “reverse discrimination”, which describes the finding that white waiters were more willing to serve black couples (compared to white couples) who violated the restaurant’s dress code. More recently, this pattern has been coined “benevolent discrimination” (Fehr & Sassenberg, 2009), which is closely related to benevolent sexism (Glick & Fiske, 2001). What looks like “true” sympathy and “true” compassion for members of a particular social category on the surface actually reflects an ideology of inequality: The minority group is treated more positively because they are seen as inferior, incompetent, and passive. Why should benevolent discrimination occur in sentencing decisions? As mentioned before, the sentencing context is subject to intergroup dynamics and issues of status and power differences. In the context of judging offenses, the involved persons (i.e., the offender and the people who judge him or her) are often perceived as representatives of their group, and so the intergroup context becomes easily salient. Harsh sanctions for an offender from the minority group that are imposed by a member of the majority group can be conceived of as group-based discrimination, which would damage the image of the majority group (Feather & Souter, 2002; van Prooijen & Lam, 2007). Imposing a lenient sanction on the minority offender, however, can be more beneficial for the majority, since they can uphold and preserve a positive image of themselves. Members of the majority group can internally and externally demonstrate that they are unprejudiced, so the minority group cannot easily blame the majority group of having negative attitudes about them. Moreover, treating the minority offender leniently involves no costs for the majority, but it creates a dependency situation for the minority that calls for reciprocity and gratefulness. As a consequence, the status differences between the minority and the majority are consolidated. While third-party observers might consider positive treatment by the majority as a step towards integration, the minority probably feels different about it. Although

Retributive Punishment in a Social Context


the lenient sanction is objectively positive, it still means that the minority is treated unfairly. Similar to benevolent sexism, this kind of discrimination is so harmful and dangerous for the minority because it is injustice in disguise. Its seemingly beneficial character deprives the minority of the possibility to complain about unfair treatment, and it creates a state in which the minority group falls even more deeply into dependency and powerlessness. Furthermore, the leniency could even lead to more negative reactions towards the minority in other areas: For example, research on “moral credentials” (Monin & Miller, 2001) shows that people who have previously expressed unprejudiced attitudes (and thus provided themselves with “moral credentials”) are more likely to express more negative attitudes in subsequent situations. Integrating these ideas and relating the concept of benevolent discrimination to the context of sentencing decisions leads to a working definition for the concept of patronizing leniency: Patronizing leniency refers to cases in which majority members’ punitive reactions are more lenient for minority offenders than for majority offenders who committed a comparable norm violation. The leniency is not genuine in that it represents a sincere effort to integrate the minority offender or the minority group as a whole and to reduce intergroup conflict; rather, it can be regarded a “tokenistic” leniency that serves to consolidate the majority’s superiority and the minority’s dependence. Since the empirical evidence concerning sentencing decisions for minority members is mixed, there must be moderator variables that trigger the occurrence of patronizing leniency. We suggest two moderator variables that are connected to the social context: stability of status difference and motivation to control prejudice. Firstly, patronizing leniency should be particularly likely when the status difference between the majority and the minority is stable. Majority members only impose more lenient punishment on minority perpetrators when they feel safe to do so, and this should be the case when the status difference is stable. Thus, factors that jeopardize the stability of the status inequality should reduce the likelihood of patronizing leniency to occur. According to the integrated threat theory (Stephan & Renfro, 2002) such factors could be realistic and symbolic threat through the minority. Secondly, as we assume that patronizing leniency is not a sincere integration effort of the majority, but rather a tokenistic one by which the majority group can avoid to appear prejudiced, the occurrence of patronizing leniency should be more probable when the judging person’s motivation to control prejudice is high. On the one hand, motivation to control prejudice is a dispositional variable; on the other hand, it is influenced by the social context. So, for example, the motivation to control prejudice should be stronger when a sentencing decision is to be given in public (vs. in private), and therefore, patronizing leniency is more likely to occur in such public situations than in private situations. We propose that patronizing leniency can be used by the majority as a powerful instrument to strengthen its superiority in power and status. This kind of positive treatment of the outgroup is purely instrumental and, in contrast to intergroup forgiveness and restorative sanctioning, it does not aim at integrating the offender or at taking a step towards the offender’s group, but focuses rather on preserving the


M. Gollwitzer et al.

ingroup’s image and dominance. However, the question is whether the long-term effects of patronizing leniency are also as positive for the ingroup as the short-term effects. While intergroup forgiveness represents a genuine interest in improving the intergroup relationship on the long run, patronizing leniency is just a shallow attempt to pacify the outgroup; thus, it could seriously damage the intergroup relationship.

How Positive is Negative (and Vice Versa)? Of course, it is far too simplifying to categorize reactions to norm-breaking as either ‘negative’ or ‘positive’, i.e., punishment vs. restorative procedures, forgiveness and leniency. We have already sketched the possible downsides of leniency, suggesting that the seemingly positive reaction can imply negative consequences for a group. Concerning restorative procedures, laypersons often perceive them as too positive for the offenders, that is, too permissive and lenient. In an English survey, however, a majority of offenders who underwent the procedures judged them as painful and difficult to go through (Shapland et al., 2007). On the other hand, “negative” retributive punishment, aimed at making the offender suffer, can have the function of atonement, allowing the perpetrator to wash away his sins. The “Dobby effect” also suggests that punishment can be regarded positively by those being punished: Nelissen and Zeelenberg (2009) demonstrated that people engage in self-punishing behavior when they feel guilty. The distinction between positive and negative reactions also falls too short because they can be positively related instead of mutually exclusive. Research by David and Choi (2006) found that punishment promoted (interpersonal) forgiveness among Czech victims, such that victims were more inclined to forgive when the offenders had faced some sort of punishment. These examples demonstrate that simply looking at the form of punishment can be misleading: Seemingly positive responses can have negative effects for the intergroup situation and vice versa. In order to truly understand laypersons’ reactions to rule breaking, we need to search for the social functionality the response has in a particular social context.

References Abrams, D., Marques, J. M., Bown, N. J., & Henson, M. (2000). Pro-norm and anti-norm deviance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 906–912. Abrams, D., Marques, J. M., Randsley de Moura, G., Hutchison, P., & Bown, N. J. (2004). The maintenance of entitativity: A subjective group dynamics model. In V. Y. Yzerbyt, C. M. Judd, & O. Corneille (Eds.), The psychology of group perception: Perceived variability, entitativity, and essentialism (pp. 361–380). Hove: Psychology Press. Bazemore, G. (1998). Restorative justice and earned redemption. American Behavioral Scientist, 41(6), 768–813.

Retributive Punishment in a Social Context


Bentham, J. (2008). The rationale of punishment. In R. Smith (Ed. and Trans.), The making of the modern world. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale. (Original work published 1830). Braithwaite, J. (2002). Restorative justice and responsive regulation. New York: Oxford University Press. Braithwaite, J., & Strang, H. (2001). Introduction: Restorative justice and civil society. In H. Strang & J. Braithwaite (Eds.), Restorative justice and civil society (pp. 1–13). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Brewer, M. B. (1999). The psychology of prejudice: Ingroup love or outgroup hate? Journal of Social Issues, 55(3), 429–444. Carlsmith, K. M. (2006). The roles of retribution and utility in determining punishment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 437–451. Carlsmith, K. M., Darley, J. M., & Robinson, P. H. (2002). Why do we punish? Deterrence and just deserts as motives for punishment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 284–299. Cehajic, S., Brown, R., & Castano, E. (2008). Forgive and forget? Antecedents and consequences of intergroup forgiveness in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Political Psychology, 29(3), 351–367. Darley, J. (2002). Just punishment: Research on retributional justice. In M. Ross & D. T. Miller (Eds.), The justice motive in everyday life (pp. 314–333). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. David, R., & Choi, S. Y. P. (2006). Getting equal without getting even: Retributive desires and transitional justice in the Czech Republic. Political Psychology, 31(2), 161–192. Dienstbier, R. A. (1970). Positive and negative prejudice. Interactions of prejudice with race and social desirability. Journal of Personality, 38, 198–215. Doble, J. (2002). Attitudes to punishment in the US – punitive and liberal opinions. In J. V. Roberts & M. Hough (Eds.), Changing attitudes to punishment (pp. 128–147). Cullompton: Willan. Duff, R. A. (2001). Punishment, communication, and communitiy. New York: Oxford University Press. Dutton, D. G. (1971). Reactions of restaurateurs to blacks and whites violating restaurant dress requirements. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 3, 298–302. Dutton, D. G. (1973). Reverse discrimination: The relationship of amount of perceived discrimination toward a minority group on the behaviour of majority group members. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 5, 34–45. Feather, N. T., & Oberdan, D. (2000). Reactions to penalties for an offence in relation to ethnic identity, responsibility, and authoritarianism. Australian Journal of Psychology, 52, 9–16. Feather, N. T., & Souter, J. (2002). Reactions to mandatory sentences in relation to the ethnic identity and criminal history of the offender. Law and Human Behavior, 26(4), 417–438. Fehr, J., & Sassenberg, K. (2009). Intended and unintended consequences of internal motivation to behave nonprejudiced – the case of benevolent discrimination. European Journal of Social Psychology, 39(6), 1093–1108. Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (2001). An ambivalent alliance: Hostile and benevolent sexism as complementary justifications for gender inequality. American Psychologist, 56, 109–118. Gollwitzer, M., & B€ucklein, K. (2007). Are “we” more punitive than “me”? Self-construal styles, justice-related attitudes, and punitive judgments. Social Justice Research, 20, 457–478. Gollwitzer, M., & Keller, L. (2010). What you did only matters if you are one of us: Offenders’ group membership moderates the effect of criminal history on punishment severity. Social Psychology, 41(1), 20–26. Gordon, R. A. (1993). The effect of strong versus weak evidence on the assessment of race stereotypic and race nonstereotypic crimes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 23, 734–749. Gordon, R. A., Bindrim, T. A., McNicholas, M. L., & Walden, T. L. (1988). Perceptions of bluecollar and white-collar crime: The effect of defendant race on simulated juror decisions. Journal of Social Psychology, 128, 191–197.


M. Gollwitzer et al.

Gromet, D. M., & Darley, J. M. (2006). Restoration and retribution: How including retributive components affects the acceptability of restorative justice procedures. Social Justice Research, 19, 395–432. Gromet, D. M., & Darley, J. (2009a). Retributive and restorative justice: Importance of crime severity and shared identity in people’s justice responses. Australian Journal of Psychology, 61, 50–57. Gromet, D. M., & Darley, J. (2009b). Punishment and beyond: Achieving justice through the satisfaction of multiple goals. Law and Society, 43, 1–38. Hogan, R., & Emler, N. P. (1981). Retributive justice. In M. J. Lerner & S. C. Lerner (Eds.), The justice motive in social behavior (pp. 125–143). New York: Plenum Press. Hogg, M. A. (2000). Subjective uncertainty reduction through self-categorization: A motivational theory of social identity processes. In W. Stroebe & M. Hewstone (Eds.), European review of social psychology (Vol. 11, pp. 223–255). Chichester: Wiley. Kahan, D. M. (1996). What do alternative sanctions mean? University of Chicago Law Review, 63, 591–653. Kant, I. (1797/1968). Die Metaphysik der Sitten [The metaphysics of conventions]. In Kants Werke (Akademie Textausgabe, Vol. VI). Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter. Keller, L., & Gollwitzer, M. (2011). Punishing in the name of justice: People prefer retributive sanctions when group values are threatened. Manuscript submitted for publication. Keller, L., Oswald, M., Stucki, I., & Gollwitzer, M. (2010). A closer look at an eye for an eye: Laypersons’ punishment decisions are primarily driven by retributive motives. Social Justice Research, 23, 99–116. Kemmelmeier, M. (2005). The effects of race and social dominance orientation in simulated juror decision making. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35, 1030–1045. Kerr, N. L., Hymes, R., Anderson, A. B., & Weathers, J. (1995). Juror-defendant similarity and juror judgments. Law & Human Behavior, 19, 545–567. Lieberman, D., & Linke, L. (2007). The effect of social category on third party punishment. Evolutionary Psychology, 5, 289–305. Marques, J. M., Abrams, D., & Seroˆdio, R. G. (2001). Being better by being right: Subjective group dynamics and derogation of in-group deviants when generic norms are undermined. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 436–447. Marques, J. M., & Pa´ez, D. (1994). The ‘Black Sheep Effect’: Social categorization, rejection of ingroup deviates, and perception of group variability. In W. Stroebe & M. Hewstone (Eds.), European Review of Social Psychology (Vol. 5, pp. 41–68). New York: Wiley. Marques, J. M., Yzerbyt, V. Y., & Leyens, J.-P. (1988). The “Black Sheep Effect”: Extremity of judgment towards ingroup members as a function of group identification. European Journal of Social Psychology, 18, 1–16. Miller, D. T. (2001). Disrespect and the experience of injustice. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 527–553. Miller, D. T., & Vidmar, N. (1981). The social psychology of punishment reactions. In M. J. Lerner & S. C. Lerner (Eds.), The justice motive in social behavior (pp. 145–172). New York: Plenum Press. Monin, B., & Miller, D. T. (2001). Moral credentials and the expression of prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(1), 33–43. Myers, E., Hewstone, M., & Cairns, E. (2009). Impact of conflict on mental health in Northern Ireland: The mediating role of intergroup forgiveness and collective guilt. Political Psychology, 30(2), 269–290. Nelissen, R. M. A., & Zeelenberg, M. (2009). When guilt evokes self-punishment: Evidence for the existence of a Dobby effect. Emotion, 9(1), 118–122. Noor, M., Brown, R., Gonzalez, R., Manzi, J., & Lewis, C. A. (2008). On positive psychological outcomes: What helps groups with a history of conflict to forgive and reconcile with each other? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 819–832.

Retributive Punishment in a Social Context


Okimoto, T. G., Wenzel, M., & Feather, N. T. (2009). Beyond retribution: Conceptualizing restorative justice and its determinants. Social Justice Research, 22(1), 156–180. Okimoto, T. G., Wenzel, M., & Platow, M. J. (2010). Restorative justice: Seeking a shared identity in dynamic intragroup contexts. In M. A. Neale, E. Mannix, & E. Mullen (Eds.), Research on managing groups and teams (Vol. 13: Fairness and groups; pp. 201–238). Bingley, UK: Emerald Ltd. Orth, U. (2003). Punishment goals of crime victims. Law and Human Behavior, 27, 173–186. Oswald, M. E., Hupfeld, J., Klug, S. C., & Gabriel, U. (2002). Lay-perspectives on criminal deviance, goals of punishment, and punitivity. Social Justice Research, 15, 85–98. Shapland, J., Atkinson, A., Atkinson, H., Chapman, B., Dignan, J., Howes, J., et al. (2007). Restorative justice: the views of victims and offenders (Ministry of Justice Research Series 3/ 07). London: Ministry of Justice. Shinada, M., Yamagishi, T., & Ohmura, Y. (2004). False friends are worse than bitter enemies. Altruistic punishment of in-group members. Evolution and Human Behavior, 25, 379–393. Sommers, S. R., & Ellsworth, P. C. (2000). Race in the courtroom: Perceptions of guilt and dispositional attributions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1367–1379. Staub, E., & Pearlman, L. A. (2006). Promoting reconciliation and forgiveness after mass violence: Rwanda and other settings. In American Psychological Association (Ed.), Forgiveness: A sampling of research results [Brochure]. Washington, DC: Office of International Affairs. Stephan, W. G., & Renfro, C. L. (2002). The role of threat in intergroup relations. In D. M. Mackie & E. R. Smith (Eds.), From prejudice to intergroup emotions (pp. 191–207). New York: Psychology Press. Strang, H. (2002). Repair or revenge: Victims and restorative justice. London: Oxford University Press. Tam, T., Hewstone, M., Kenworthy, J. B., Cairns, E., Marinetti, C., Geddes, L., et al. (2008). Postconflict reconciliation: Intergroup forgiveness and implicit biases in Northern Ireland. Journal of Social Issues, 64(2), 303–320. Taylor, T. S., & Hosch, H. M. (2004). An examination of jury verdicts for evidence of a similarityleniency effect, an out-group punitiveness effect, or a black sheep effect. Law & Human Behavior, 28, 587–599. Turner, J. C. (1987). The analysis of social influence. In J. C. Turner, M. A. Hogg, P. J. Oakes, S. D. Reicher, & M. S. Wetherell (Eds.), Rediscovering the social group: A self-categorization theory (pp. 68–88). Oxford: Blackwell. Tyler, T. R., & Boeckmann, R. J. (1997). Three strikes and you are out, but why? The psychology of public support for punishing rule breakers. Law & Society Review, 31, 237–265. Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2006). Retributive reactions to suspected offenders: The importance of social categorizations and guilt probability. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 715–726. Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Lam, J. (2007). Retributive justice and social categorizations: The perceived fairness of punishment depends on intergroup status. European Journal of Social Psychology, 37, 1286–1297. Vidmar, N. (2002). Retributive justice: Its social context. In M. Ross & D. T. Miller (Eds.), The justice motive in everyday life (pp. 291–313). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wenzel, M., Okimoto, T. G., Feather, N. T., & Platow, M. J. (2008). Retributive and restorative justice. Law and Human Behavior, 32(5), 375–389. Wenzel, M., Okimoto, T. G., Feather, N. T., & Platow, M. J. (2010). Justice through consensus: Shared identity and the preference for a restorative notion of justice. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40(6), 909–930. Wenzel, M., & Thielmann, I. (2006). Why we punish in the name of justice: Just desert versus value restoration and the role of social identity. Social Justice Research, 19, 450–470. Wohl, M. J. A., & Branscombe, N. R. (2005). Forgiveness and collective guilt assignment to historical perpetrator groups depends on level of social category inclusiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 288–303.


Forming Fairness Judgments: Why People Favor Unfair Information Bernhard Streicher, Dieter Frey, and Silvia Osswald

Abstract People value fair conditions and show positive reactions towards fairness, whereas they oppose unfair conditions. Fairness is especially important to people in situations without immediate control. This, for example, is the case when people are dealing with authorities such as supervisors or the police. Amazingly, there is hardly any research on how people search for information in order to judge the fairness of an authority. In our research, we explored how information search differs after fair versus unfair events, and what motivates people to search for different fairness-relevant information. Overall, we found that people both in fair and unfair situations are more interested in unfairness-relevant information than fairness-relevant information. However, the search for information on the fairness of the authority is motivated by two different goals: Fairness is not taken for granted and people aim to find out whether an unknown authority is really trustworthy in order to avoid costly misjudgments (i.e., accuracy motives). In contrast, unfairness seems to be convincing and people are motivated to confirm their first impression (i.e., defense motives). These results have important practical implications: People seem to have a general bias by focusing on unfair information. Unfortunately, therefore, in conflict situations (a) it becomes more difficult to convey fair information and (b) the importance of single, less relevant unfair information is likely to be overestimated by conflict partners. Both effects make conflict resolutions more difficult. Accordingly, in particular in situations where the interaction partners do not know each other and have not established a stable and trustworthy relationship (e.g., a first encounter with an authority), it is very import to avoid any impression of unfairness.

B. Streicher (*) • D. Frey Department of Social Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, M€unchen, Germany e-mail: [email protected] S. Osswald Central Psychological Service of the Bavarian Police, M€ unchen, Germany e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_11, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



B. Streicher et al.

Introduction People care about fairness and respond positively to fair treatment and negatively to unfair treatment. This can be observed in countless different situations. The impact of fairness has been examined within a wide range of topics from legal actions (Lind et al. 1990; Tabak, 1986; Tyler, 1994), to municipal decisions (Tyler & Degoey, 1995), encounters with authorities (Sunshine & Tyler, 2003; Tyler & Folger, 1980), and within organizations (for overviews, see Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001; Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, & Ng, 2001). One of the main and very well replicated results of fairness research is that people respond to fair conditions with higher levels of extra-role attitudes and behavior such as commitment, identification, trust, cooperation, and the acceptance of decisions. In contrast, people react to unfair treatment with mistrust, withdrawal, and retributive and destructive behavior such as theft or boycott. Accordingly, principles of fairness such as distributive, procedural, informational, and interpersonal fairness (cf. Colquitt, 2001) have become prominent predictors of human reactions, especially within hierarchical situations (e.g., supervisor – employee, local authorities – citizens, teacher – student). Distributive fairness focuses on the fair allocation of resources (e.g., by using equity, equality, need principles, or a combination of these), procedural fairness deals with the fairness of decision-making processes (e.g., by providing the opportunity to voice one’s opinion, and by being neutral and unbiased), informational fairness concerns the transfer of relevant information (e.g., by informing aggrieved parties in a timely and comprehensive manner), and interpersonal fairness describes the fairness of the interaction between an authority and a subordinate (e.g., by being friendly, honoring, and respectful independently of the issue). Furthermore, these principles of fairness prevent and buffer potential conflicts, whereas unfairness fuels conflicts. For example, if conditions of fairness were complied during layoffs, employees took fewer legal actions against their former company (Goldman, 2001). In this chapter, we describe why fairness is important, how people form fairness judgments, how this process of information search differs after fair and unfair events, and what the practical implications of these differences are.

Why is Fairness Important to People? People value conditions of fairness because they include two central messages: Firstly, having the possibility to influence decisions and outcomes; and, secondly, being a respected and valued person or member of a group. Accordingly, the fairness literature mostly uses an influence-orientated explanation (i.e., the instrumental model) as well as an explanation that focuses on the relationship between authority and subordinate (i.e., the relational model) to explain why people actually care about fairness.

Forming Fairness Judgments: Why People Favor Unfair Information


The instrumental model, which is based on the social exchange theory (Thibaut & Kelley, 1959), assumes that people engage in groups and show cooperative behavior because they are motivated to gain access to resources (Thibaut & Walker, 1975). The level of cooperative behavior that people show in groups depends on the value of the resources they can obtain as a member of the group. To maximize favorable outcomes, people are interested in having control over the decisions leading to outcomes. People value conditions of fairness because they guarantee long-term favorable outcomes, for example by providing the opportunity to express one’s opinion and/or applying fair resource allocations (Brett & Goldberg, 1983). Relational models are based on the social identity theory (Hogg & Abrams, 1988; Tajfel & Turner, 1979, 1986). According to the social identity theory, people identify with groups or authorities because they want to construct and maintain a positive social self. Tyler and colleagues argue that people react favorably to fairness and antagonistically to unfairness because fair treatment by authorities serves as positive identity-relevant information (Lind & Tyler, 1988; Tyler, 1989; Tyler & Blader, 2000; Tyler & Lind, 1992). Fairness communicates self-relevant information on how much people are respected in a group (“group-value model”, Lind & Tyler, 1988) or by an authority (“relational model of authority”, Tyler & Lind, 1992), and how proud they can feel of being a member of that group (Tyler, 1989; Tyler, Degoey, & Smith, 1996). Relational models argue that people value fair conditions because they serve as a positive, self-relevant feedback, whereas instrumental models point out that people favor fair conditions because of the longterm advantages in having sustainable access to resources.

Limitations of Former Research on Fairness Judgments Regarding the process of how people perceive fairness-relevant information, we would like to point out two weaknesses of fairness research. The first issue addresses a conceptual lack of clarity concerning the link between fairness events and fairness reactions. Overall, a huge body of research demonstrates that people value fair treatment and dislike unfair conditions for numerous reasons. Accordingly, people should be motivated to gain relevant information on the fairness of a procedure, an outcome, or an organization or authority in general, particularly if these processes, results, or institutions personally affect them. Accordingly, studies focusing on the perception of fairness-relevant information after fair or unfair events showed that this information is intensively used to form fairness judgments (e.g., Van den Bos, Lind, Vermunt, & Wilke, 1997; Van den Bos, Vermunt, & Wilke, 1997). Surprisingly, the majority of studies on fairness effects implicitly or explicitly assume the following model: conditions of fairness lead more or less directly to fairness effects (i.e., changes in human attitudes and behavior) and the psychological mechanisms of these effects are based on instrumental and/or relational mediators. This model excludes any aspects on how people collect and process information on the fairness of the situation or how they come to their


B. Streicher et al.

fairness judgment. Regarding the effects of conditions of procedural fairness, Van den Bos (2005) criticized a conceptual ambiguity between (a) conditions of procedural fairness (e.g., having the opportunity to voice one’s opinion), (b) the resulting perception of this event (e.g., that the procedure is fair), and (c) the final reaction (e.g., more acceptance of a decision). This means that there are at least three different dimensions within the process from a fairness event to the reaction of a concerned person and that these dimensions usually occur in a chronological order. Furthermore, some studies which distinguish between the three dimensions have showed that the underlying processes for the first effect (event to judgment) might be different from the second effect (judgment to reaction) (cf. Van den Bos, 2005). Overall, it is reasonable to distinguish between the process of fairness judgment formation and the process of fairness reaction. Accordingly, it seems worthwhile to shift the research focus from reactions on fairness conditions to the process on how people form their judgments under fair and unfair conditions. The second subject we want to put forward here concerns the direction of the effects of fair versus unfair conditions on human attitudes and behavior. Beside the general effect that fairness is correlated with positive outcomes (e.g., trust, identification, extra-role behavior, performance), whereas unfairness is correlated with negative outcomes (e.g., distrust, withdrawal, boycott, theft), the actual impact of conditions of both fairness and unfairness remains unclear. The reason why this question is unanswered is that the vast majority of fairness research did not use control group designs, which are necessary to explore the precise impact of fair and unfair conditions within the same situation or social context. Therefore, it is left to speculation whether people respond only to unfairness and take fairness for granted, or whether fair conditions unfold an additional positive effect on people’s reactions. First studies (Streicher, Jonas, Maier, & Frey, submitted) within a stable social context and with a control group design on the impact of conditions of procedural fairness on innovative behavior showed a twofold effect: Fairness activates, whereas unfairness deactivates innovative behavior compared to a control group. While it seems reasonable that people should mainly be affected by unfairness (cf. Van den Bos, 2005), the results of the studies by Streicher and colleagues give some indication that people are affected by both fair and unfair conditions. Nevertheless, more research is necessary under which conditions fairness effects are oneor twofold. Moreover, knowledge is also sketchy on the potential difference of the impact of fair compared to unfair conditions on the process of fairness judgment formation: Is fairness-relevant information equally important for the judgment formation both after fair and unfair events?

Fairness Judgment Formation as Information Search In this chapter we focus on the process from event to judgment: How do people form fairness judgments after an (un)fair event and, more particular, how does a first fair or unfair impression influence the search for fairness-relevant information

Forming Fairness Judgments: Why People Favor Unfair Information


Fig. 1 Information search within the process from fairness event to fairness reaction (cf. Van den Bos 2005)

regarding this event? We assume that in case of a fairness-relevant event (e.g., a resource allocation, a conflict, a wide-ranging decision) people start to form hypotheses on whether the behavior of the participating parties or authorities is fair or unfair. This leads to the formation of a fairness judgment about the event. This judgment will subsequently influence the reaction (i.e., attitudes and behavior) to the event. In our model, we argue that the process which leads to a fairness judgment can be described as an information search (see Fig. 1). People might search for fairness-relevant information in order to form accurate judgments, to learn something about the trustworthiness of the authority, to confirm their first impression, or as a substitute if direct information on the fairness of an event or outcome is not available (Van den Bos et al. 1997).

Information Search In social psychological research an information search is usually measured by the amount and type of searched information. People can either search for supportive information that confirms pre-existing views, or select uncongenial information, which challenge their prior impression (for an overview, see Hart et al., 2009). Selecting only congenial information will support self-validation, but can lead to a distorted perception of reality and wrong decisions. On the other hand, seeking information that contradicts one’s position might threaten core self-relevant beliefs, but can lead to a more accurate representation of reality and better decisions. Generally speaking, two motivations are associated with the selective exposure to information: defense and accuracy motivation. Defense motivation, which aims to defend one’s position and likely occurs in states such as being over-confident, committed, or closed-minded, is associated with a confirmation bias (i.e., the preference of supporting over challenging information; Jonas, Schulz-Hardt, Frey,


B. Streicher et al.

& Thielen, 2001). The motivation to form accurate judgments is connected with a more balanced information search and is driven by the importance of the outcome and the utility of the available information.

Theory of Cognitive Dissonance One prominent theory which is often connected with information search is the theory of cognitive dissonance by Festinger (1957). In short, this theory predicts that information which is in contradiction to a prior perception, belief or decision causes the aversive state of cognitive dissonance and triggers defense motives. One way to reduce cognitive dissonance is to avoid contradicting information and selectively seek for supporting information. This prediction is supported by a recent meta-analysis on selective exposure to information (Hart et al., 2009), which showed that people are almost two times more likely to select information confirming rather than challenging their prior beliefs. Regarding the information search after fairness events, people, therefore, should prefer fair information over unfair information when the first impression was fair, and vice versa when the first impression was unfair. Accordingly, both in fair and unfair situations a confirmation bias should occur.

Fairness Heuristic Theory Another theory which might be helpful in understanding information search after fairness events is fairness heuristic theory (Lind, 2001; Van den Bos, Lind, & Wilke, 2001). This theory is rooted within the fundamental social dilemma: If one identifies with authorities and obeys the rules of a group, organization or society, personal benefits and favorable outcomes can be achieved. On the other hand, hierarchical and dependent situations make one vulnerable to exploitation. This dilemma (i.e., benefit vs. exploitation) is buffered when one can trust the authorities that they will not misemploy one’s dependency. Unfortunately, building up trust requires time and repeated interactions and is never totally reliable. Therefore, people instantly use accessible fairness information about the authority as a proxy for his or her trustworthiness and rely on this fairness heuristic in decisions concerning the social dilemma. Accordingly, fairness heuristic theory claims (a) “that fairness heuristics are formed quickly, using whatever information is available, so that the heuristic can be used to guide subsequent decisions” (Colquitt, Greenberg, & Zapata-Phelan, 2005, p. 43), and (b) “that fairness heuristics are used as a proxy for trust” (Colquitt et al., 2005, p. 43). Regarding fairness heuristic theory, information search after unfair events in particular should be motivated by the aim to find out more about the trustworthiness of the authority and not so much by defense or accuracy motivations. Furthermore, it can be derived from fairness

Forming Fairness Judgments: Why People Favor Unfair Information


heuristic theory that people should seek more information after unfairness compared to fairness.

Current Research on Information Search after Fairness Events We conducted a series of studies on selective exposure to information after fair and unfair events (Streicher, 2009; Streicher, 2010; Streicher & Peus, in prep.). Based on cognitive dissonance and fairness heuristic theory we hypothesized (a) that both after a fair and unfair event a confirmation bias occurs (i.e., a positive supporting information to contradicting information ratio), (b) that unfair conditions lead to a higher amount of searched information compared to fair conditions, and (c) that the information search is driven by defense, accuracy, and/or trust motives. In all studies, participants were confronted with an authority whose actions and decisions affected them and who acted either concordant to general fairness rules (cf. Colquitt, 2001) (fair condition) or violated this rules (unfair condition). After the fairness manipulation, participants had the opportunity to seek additional information regarding the fairness of the authority. Following a well-established method (e.g., Frey, 1986), a total of 12 summary statements were provided in random order, of which six supported the point of view that the authority was fair (e.g., “A former employee describes the authority as a responsible, respectful and trustworthy employer.”), while six indicated that the authority was unfair (e.g., “A journal criticizes the lack of interest and the extremely impersonal treatment of employees by the authority.”). After reading the statement, participants ticked whether they would like to read the full statement. This choice served as the dependent variable both for the amount of selected information and the direction of the information (fair vs. unfair). For the amount of searched information a total of seven studies could not reveal a significant difference between fair and unfair conditions. That means people do not differ in their need for fairness-relevant information after fair and unfair events. This result is not in line with our assumption derived from fairness heuristic theory that fairness-relevant information should be more important after unfair events. Concerning the confirmation bias, after unfair events either a positive confirmation bias or a balanced information search emerged. These outcomes are in line with cognitive dissonance theory. More surprisingly, results consistently showed a significant negative confirmation bias for the fairness groups: After a fair event, participants searched for more unfair information than fair information. At first sight, this result is clearly in contradiction to cognitive dissonance theory and many studies to selective exposure to information (cf. Hart et al., 2009). These results become clearer when looking at the differences of the motivations of why participants selected information. We found no differences for accuracy motivation: Participants in both groups were equally motivated to form accurate judgments about the fairness of the authority. However, groups consistently differed significantly regarding defense and trust motivations: While participants


B. Streicher et al.

reported higher levels of defense motivation (e.g., to confirm their first impression) after an unfair event, the level of trust motivation (e.g., to find out more about the trustworthiness of the authority) was higher after a fair event. That means that after an unfair event, participants aimed to support their first impression that the authority behaved unfairly and selected information accordingly. Additionally, a free recall of the presented statements at the very end of one study revealed no significant difference between fair and unfair groups for the amount of recalled information, but interestingly half the information participants of the unfair group recalled was information given during the unfairness manipulation. This gives further evidence that unfair events provoke closed-mindedness and an anchoring effect on the first, unfair impression. In contrast, after a fair event participants were not very interested in finding supportive information that the authority is fair, but whether they can trust this authority or not. Considering that information search after a fair event is mainly driven by a trust motivation, it makes sense that participants search for more unfair information, because in this case unfair information is an important source of information in order to judge the trustworthiness of the authority. In line with this reasoning are meta-analytical results (Hart et al., 2009) indicating that a negative confirmation bias can occur when contradicting information (here: unfair information after fair events) is highly relevant or useful. Furthermore, if people are unsure whether or not to trust an authority after a first fair impression, they should be open-minded regarding any fairness-relevant information. Therefore, it seems reasonable that people in this particular situation do not experience cognitive dissonance when receiving unfair information. This is in accordance with a revision of dissonance theory by Festinger (1964) in which he points out that people indeed seek contradicting information if this information is highly relevant. If people have good reasons to be unsure whether an authority really is fair or unfair, unfair information becomes more important than fair information, because ignoring unfair information can cause high costs in the future. Perceiving an unfair authority as fair on first sight and refusing contradicting but in this case correct unfair information thereafter can easily result in dependency, exploitation, or other self-threatening situations. Furthermore, research on information search in the context of important decisions (e.g., verdicts) demonstrated that people favor novel contradicting information, because they are motivated to avoid misjudgments (e.g., Sears & Freedman, 1965). Overall, the information content of unfair information in general is more important to people. In so far, the negative confirmation bias after fair events can be explained by both fairness heuristic theory and an enlarged cognitive dissonance theory. To sum up, fair events provoke trust motivation and unfair information becomes an important source for the assessment of the trustworthiness of the authority, resulting in a negative confirmation bias. Unfair events trigger defense motivation and the first unfair impression and its circumstances are remembered very well. We could replicate the pattern of main results even if the fairness-relevant information was associated with real costs by making the participants pay half a Euro for each information (Streicher, 2010).

Forming Fairness Judgments: Why People Favor Unfair Information


Outlook and Practical Implications We introduced an information search model for the fairness judgment formation after fair and unfair events and reported some main findings regarding the model. In particular, the different motivations for information search after fair (i.e., trust motivation) and unfair conditions (i.e., defense motivation) and the general significance and preference for unfair information have important practical implications. As predicted by fairness heuristic theory, the first encounter with an authority forms the fairness judgment, and people are more easily convinced that an unknown authority is unfair than they trust in the fairness of this authority. Accordingly, people favor unfair information. Therefore, especially within first encounters, any unfair action or impression should be avoided. If aggrieved parties form the first impression that an unknown authority is unfair, they are very likely to be motivated to confirm this point of view and preferably search for unfair information in the following. This kind of negative hypothesis about another person can be very exclusive (cf. the theory of hypotheses of perception; Lilli & Frey, 1993) and in turn will make it very difficult for the authority to have his/her future actions to be perceived as fair even if they are fair. On the other hand, to establish trust in an authority takes time and repeated positive interactions. Therefore, a preliminary first fair impression is doubtful and, again, authorities should have utmost concerns that their behavior, interactions and decisions are in line with conditions of fairness. Only if people have formed a stable judgment that an authority is fair, they will reciprocate by having trust in and identifying with the authority, by supporting decisions and by showing extra-role behavior. These considerations can be transferred to virtually any interaction with any kind of authority. For example, usually the first encounter of a potential employee with a ¨ ttl & Streicher, new company is the selection process. In a longitudinal study (O 2010) the first impression of the fairness of the selection procedure significantly predicted the reported attractiveness of the organization, the commitment and the organizational citizenship behavior of successful applicants. It becomes more and more important that municipal and political decisions are in compliance with conditions of fairness (particularly procedural, informational, and interpersonal fairness). Over the last decades, especially in Western countries, the role of citizens has shifted from the more or less obedient to the politically prudent and selfconfident citizen. Nowadays citizens, if personally affected by decisions, expect to be informed timely and extensively, to have the option to express their opinions and concerns, and to be treated with respect. Even if a final decision has followed the legal, democratic procedure, the violations of these fairness expectations can lead to strong resistance as two recent cases in Germany demonstrate: The refusal of farmers to give land for the Olympic Winter Games and the massive protests against a new main train station in the city of Stuttgart, both resulting in a delay of the construction works and jeopardizing the whole project. Fair treatment of citizens is even more important in conflicts about extremely long-bearing decisions like nuclear repositories. In Switzerland, a country with a long tradition of


B. Streicher et al.

grassroots democracy and public participation, plans for a certain nuclear storage site had to be abandoned, not so much because local citizens disliked the idea of having nuclear waste deposed below their backyard, but because they perceived the authorities and the decision-making procedure as unfair (Kr€utli, Stauffacher, Fl€ ueler, & Scholz, 2008). Last but not least, fairness seems to be paramount in conflict resolution: Contradicting and incompatible fairness expectations can cause and escalate conflicts as well as hinder a lasting conflict resolution. Both for the prevention and solution of conflicts, fair behavior (e.g., acceptable and balanced resource allocation, the option to have a voice, respectful interactions, and accurate and timely information) of all involved parties is beneficial. Fair behavior can be trained. Supervisor trainings in principles of organizational justice showed positive effects on subordinates’ behavior (for an overview, see Skarlicki & Latham, 2005). Furthermore, groups performed better at a group task when their leader had participated in a fairness training compared to groups whose leader had received either a training in goal-setting or moderation or no training at all (Streicher, Jonas, & Frey, 2010). In another study (Streicher & Chupin, 2010), training in fairness principles increased the acceptance of an aversive decision (i.e., reschedule of a deadline to an earlier date und serious increase of the work-load) compared to a control group. Trainees were rated as more convincing, competent, and fair. Hence, we believe that any kind of organization from schools to companies to the public sector should not only reevaluate its internal structure regarding fairness principles but also teach and train its authorities and decision makers in these principles in order to increase cooperation and to avoid unnecessary conflicts.

References Brett, J. M., & Goldberg, S. B. (1983). Mediator-advisors: A new third-party role. In M. H. Bazerman & R. J. Lewicki (Eds.), Negotiating in organizations (pp. 165–176). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Cohen-Charash, Y., & Spector, P. E. (2001). The role of justice in organizations: A meta-analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 86, 278–321. Colquitt, J. A. (2001). On the dimensionality of organizational justice: A construct validation of a measure. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 386–400. Colquitt, J. A., Conlon, D. E., Wesson, M. J., Porter, C. O. L. H., & Ng, K. Y. (2001). Justice at the millennium: A meta-analytic review of 25 years of organizational justice research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 425–445. Colquitt, J., Greenberg, J., & Zapata-Phelan, C. P. (2005). What is organizational justice? A historical overview. In J. Greenberg & J. Colquitt (Eds.), Handbook of organizational justice (pp. 3–56). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Oxford: Stanford University Press. Festinger, L. (1964). Conflict, decision, and dissonance. Oxford: Stanford University Press. Frey, D. (1986). Recent research on selective exposure to information. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 19, pp. 41–80). New York: Academic. Goldman, B. M. (2001). Toward an understanding of employment discrimination claiming: An integration of organizational justice and social information processing. Personnel Psychology, 54, 361–387.

Forming Fairness Judgments: Why People Favor Unfair Information


Hart, W., Albarracin, D., Eagly, A. H., Brechan, I., Lindberg, M. J., & Merrill, L. (2009). Feeling validated versus being correct: A meta-analysis of selective exposure to information. Psychological Bulletin, 135, 555–588. Hogg, M. A., & Abrams, D. (1988). Social identifications: A social psychology of intergroup relations and group processes. New York: Routledge. Jonas, E., Schulz-Hardt, S., Frey, D., & Thielen, N. (2001). Confirmation bias in sequential information search after preliminary decisions: An expansion of dissonance theoretical research on selective exposure to information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 557–571. Kr€ utli, P., Stauffacher, M., Fl€ ueler, T., & Scholz, R. W. (2008, August). Siting processes for radioactive waste: Can a fair process outweigh a negative outcome? Paper presented at the 12th biennial conference of the international society for justice research (ISJR), Adelaide, Australia. Lilli, W., & Frey, D. (1993). Die Hypothesentheorie der sozialen Wahrnehmung [The theory of hypotheses of social perception]. In D. Frey & M. Irle (Eds.), Theorien der Sozialpsychologie, Band 1: Kognitive Theorien (pp. 49–79). Bern, Switzerland: Huber. Lind, E. A. (2001). Fairness heuristic theory: Justice judgments as pivotal cognitions in organizational relations. In J. Greenberg & R. Cropanzano (Eds.), Advances in organizational justice (pp. 56–88). Lexington, MA: New Lexington. Lind, E. A., MacCoun, R. J., Ebener, P. A., Felstiner, W. L., Hensler, R., Resnik, J., et al. (1990). In the eye of the beholder: Tort litigants’ evaluations of their experiences in the civil justice system. Law and Society Review, 24, 953–996. Lind, E. A., & Tyler, T. R. (1988). The social psychology of procedural justice. New York: Plenum Press. ¨ ttl, M., & Streicher, B. (2010). How the fairness of the selection process affects later employee’s O attitudes and behavior: A longitudinal study. Unpublished manuscript. Sears, D. W., & Freedman, J. L. (1965). Effects of expected familiarity with arguments upon opinion change and selective exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2, 420–426. Skarlicki, D. P., & Latham, G. P. (2005). How can training be used to foster organizational justice? In J. Colquitt & J. Greenberg (Eds.), Handbook of organizational justice (pp. 499–522). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates. Streicher, B. (2009, October). Information search under conditions of fairness. Paper presented at symposium ‘The potential of justice research for conflict resolution and the understanding of societal problems’, Eichst€att, Germany. Streicher, B. (2010). Moderatoren der Informationssuche nach fairen und unfairen Bedingungen [Moderators of information search after fair and unfair conditions]. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the German Society of Psychology (DGPs), Bremen, Germany. Streicher, B., Jonas, E., Maier, G. W., & Frey, D. (submitted). The twofold effect of procedural fairness on innovative behavior. Streicher, B., & Chupin, V. (2010). How a training in organizational justice promotes the communication of aversive decisions. Unpublished manuscript. Streicher, B., Jonas, E., & Frey, D. (2010). Enhancing group-performance: Leadership training in organizational justice in comparison to conventional trainings. Unpublished manuscript. Streicher, B., & Peus, C. (in prep.). Information search and information bias under conditions of fairness. Manuscript in preparation for European Journal of Social Psychology. Sunshine, J., & Tyler, T. (2003). Moral solidarity, identification with the community, and the importance of procedural justice: The police as prototypical representatives of a group’s moral values. Social Psychology Quarterly, 66, 153–165. Tabak, R. J. (1986). The death of fairness: The arbitrary and capricious imposition of the death penalty in the 1980s. Review of Law and Social Change, 14, 797–848.


B. Streicher et al.

Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In G. W. Austin & S. Worchel (Eds.), The social psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 33–47). Monterey: Brooks & Cole. Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In S. Worchel & G. W. Austin (Eds.), The psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 7–24). Chicago: Nelson Hall. Thibaut, J. W., & Kelley, H. H. (1959). The social psychology of groups. New York: Wiley. Thibaut, J. W., & Walker, L. (1975). Procedural justice: A psychological analysis. Hillsdale: Erlbaum. Tyler, T. R. (1989). The psychology of procedural justice: A test of the group-value model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 830–838. Tyler, T. R. (1994). Psychological models of the justice motive: Antecedents of distributive and procedural justice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 850–863. Tyler, T. R., & Blader, S. L. (2000). Cooperation in groups: Procedural justice, social identity, and behavioral engagement. Philadelphia: Psychology Press. Tyler, T. R., & Degoey, P. (1995). Collective restraint in social dilemmas: Procedural justice and social identification effects on support for authorities. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 482–497. Tyler, T. R., Degoey, P., & Smith, H. (1996). Understanding why the justice of group procedures matters: A test of the psychological dynamics of the group-value model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 913–930. Tyler, T. R., & Folger, R. (1980). Distributional and procedural aspects of satisfaction with citizenpolice encounters. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 1, 281–292. Tyler, T. R., & Lind, E. (1992). A relational model of authority in groups. In M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 25, pp. 115–191). New York: Academic. Van den Bos, K. (2005). What is responsible for the fair process effect? In J. Greenberg & J. A. Colquitt (Eds.), Handbook of organizational justice (pp. 273–300). Mahwah: Lawrence Earlbaum. Van den Bos, K., Lind, E. A., Vermunt, R., & Wilke, H. A. M. (1997). How do I judge my outcome when I do not know the outcome of others? The psychology of the fair process effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 1034–1046. Van den Bos, K., Lind, E. A., & Wilke, H. A. M. (2001). The psychology of procedural and distributive justice viewed from the perspective of fairness heuristic theory. In R. Cropanzano (Ed.), Justice in the workplace: From theory to practice (Vol. 2, pp. 49–66). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum. Van den Bos, K., Vermunt, R., & Wilke, H. A. M. (1997). Procedural and distributive justice: What is fair depends more on what comes first than on what comes next. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 95–104.

Organizational Justice


Reactions to Organizational Injustice: Counter Work Behaviors and the Insider Threat Adrian Furnham and Evelyn M. Siegel

Abstract Justice, fairness, honor, rights, reconciliation – The more these words occur in the speeches and writings of individuals or groups, the more the justice motive should be considered important. Justice has always been a major issue among people. Especially in an organizational context, where many employees with different values, interests, and problems have to act in concert, a fair treatment is of huge importance. People who face injustice may become dissatisfied with their job, superior, or organization and hence turn into a threat for the organization by showing Counter Work Behaviors (CWBs). Being thought of as unfairly treated is a primary motivator to achieve revenge. On the contrary, supervisors who serve as exemplary role models can motivate employees to engage in prosocial manners that are labeled Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCBs). The motives of CWBs and OCBs are highly complex and the behavior of managers at all levels is often a significant factor in motivating those who commit actions against or in favor of their employer. Those who seek to prevent employee CWBs are, paradoxically, often responsible for them. This chapter will look at the perception of injustice at work and further motivational factors of CWBs. Likewise, different forms of and motivators for OCBs will be revealed. Finally, it is also considered how CWBs may be prevented.

A. Furnham (*) Department of Educational Psychology, University College London, London, UK e-mail: [email protected] E.M. Siegel Catholic University Eichst€att-Ingolstadt, Eichst€att, Germany e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_12, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



A. Furnham and E.M. Siegel

Introduction In recent times, WikiLeaks has caused a stir, by publishing millions of classified political documents since its launch in 2006. Therewith, this international nonprofit organization became a threat to governments worldwide. The documents were transmitted by insiders. In this respect, the term Insider Threat is used when referring to current and past employees who possess sensitive information about an organization’s internal systems, data and operating procedures which they sell or utilize for an inappropriate or illegal purpose (Aldhizer, 2008). This misuse of information causes damage to the company in the form of financial loss, loss of productivity or damage to reputation. WikiLeaks serves as the most famous example of CWB not least because of the media attention it causes and the tremendous effects it has for governments. However, this rather extraordinary form of deviant behavior takes only a very small place within the huge quantity of CWBs. Furthermore, other forms of deviant behaviors (e.g., employee theft, sabotage, cyberdeviance) that occur on a daily basis are more important for organizations and this chapter will focus these. One of the most constant, powerful, and persuasive reasons people give for vengeful counter-productive behaviors at work is to re-establish justice. The concept of justice and fairness which is at the heart of equity theory (Adams, 1965) is a powerful motivator for all people. If people believe they have been treated unfairly, they are motivated to “correct the balance” and “restore justice”. This may involve punishing the perpetrators or stealing to compensate them for inequitable pay. Aquino, Tripp, and Bies (2001) found that if employees face personal offense and get the possibility to choose between restitution and retribution, most of them will choose the latter one. More than any other cause of “misbehavior” at work is the issue of people feeling dealt with unfairly and taking vengeance for injustice, or trying to restore justice in the face of injustice. Case after case of “insider dishonesty” cites fairness. People at work often talk of particular types of injustice: unjustified accusation/ blaming, unfair grading/rating, lack of recognition for both effort and performance, and violations of promises and agreements. Researchers in this area have, for 40 years, done research on the economic and socio-emotional consequences of perceived injustice. In doing so, they have distinguished between four related types of justice (Greenberg, 1993). These are explained below, elucidated by everyday incidents between managers and their employees. Distributive justice refers to perceived fairness of the balance between input and outcome compared to others (Adams, 1965). An employee is likely to feel treated unfairly if she is of the opinion that she works harder than her colleagues but receives less money for her work than they do. Procedural justice is the perceived fairness of decision making processes by which outcomes are specified (e.g., Lind & Tyler, 1988; Thibaut & Walker, 1975). If a decision about an employee’s future field of duties is inaccurately taken and carried out inconsistently, the rules of procedural justice are not obeyed, especially, if the manager is aware of that fact

Reactions to Organizational Injustice: Counter Work Behaviors and the Insider Threat


but does not make any attempts to correct the error. Perceived fairness of the treatment received by others is labeled interpersonal justice (e.g., Bies & Moag, 1986; Cropanzano & Greenberg, 1997). It is all about social sensitivity, or the extent to which people believe that they have been treated with dignity and respect (Greenberg & Baron, 2003). A manager who has to inform his employees about necessary pay cuts but does not show any respect or concern for the employees’ individual situations might have to face exceeding opposition by a discontented staff. In this respect, informational justification, or the extent to which people believe they have adequate information about the procedures affecting them, is crucial for communicating organizational decisions (Greenberg & Baron, 2003). Thus, informational justice is the perceived fairness of explanations for procedures and distributions (Greenberg, 1993). If negative outcomes, such as pay cuts, are conveyed with accuracy, comprehensiveness and the right timing, people are more likely to accept them as fair. Quite simply, procedures matter because a good system can lead people to take a long-term view, becoming tolerant of short-term economic losses for long-term advantage. Research has demonstrated many practical applications or consequences of organizational justice (e.g., McNeely & Meglino, 1994; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, & Bommer, 1996; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Moorman, & Fetter, 1990; Zellars, Tepper, & Duffy, 2002). Using fair procedures enhances employees’ acceptance of institutional authorities and engagement in OCBs (McNeely & Meglino, 1994). However, there exists a huge inter-individual difference in people’s reactions to unfair treatment (Schmitt, Neumann, & Montada, 1995). Inevitably, people perceive the just or unjust situation very differently. In the following, CWBs and OCBs are classified before motivational factors are revealed. Furthermore, the concept of justice sensitivity is explained in further detail. Finally, this chapter gives an insight into possible action to prevent CWBs.

Counter Work Behavior As recent events related to WikiLeaks could show, insiders can turn into a threat for their organization. While these extreme forms of CWB are rather rare, organizations have to face various forms of deviant behaviors that they intend to reduce for CWBs are a major disruptive and expense factor (Greenberg & Baron, 2003). Robinson and Bennett (1995) established a typology which integrates two dimensions along which different forms of CWBs like leaving early, lying about working hours, bullying, or gossiping can be categorized. Deviant behavior at work can be aimed at a person or at the organization as a whole, which means that CWB differs with reference to the intended target. Seriousness forms the second dimension in the way that the consequences of the deviance can range from minor to severe. The following part reveals some of the most prominent forms of deviant behaviors although the list of all CWBs is of course much longer.


A. Furnham and E.M. Siegel

Employee Theft and Fraud Employee theft occurs if property which belongs to the organization is taken for personal use without permission (Greenberg & Baron, 2003). In comparison, fraud is defined by Davies (2000) as dishonest and deceptive activities which withdraw value from an organization with or without a personal benefit to the deceiver. The difference between employee theft and fraud is largely about scale. This includes activities such as the payment of false invoices, payments to non-existent staff, ‘kickbacks’ from suppliers, and the internal theft of equipment. These activities cost organizations a tremendous amount of money each year (Greenberg & Baron, 2003; Niehoff & Paul, 2000; Sauser, 2007). No single factor indicates a fraudster. Davies (2000) identifies four common aspects: the Boaster (over-optimistic, impression of wealth, lavish entertainer), the Manipulator (controls access to data, deals exclusively with certain accounts, blinds people with science), the Deceiver (answers different question to the one asked, uses delaying tactics, passes the buck), and the Loner (never takes a holiday, seems very conscientious, keeps people off his patch). However, as with any study of individual motivations and personality traits, there is a complex series of reasons for deviant behavior such as theft or fraud (Greenberg & Baron, 2003). People can be motivated by debts or personal financial distress. Another factor that can serve as a motivator is the realization that co-workers take company properties as well. Something everybody does cannot be that severe. Furthermore, job dissatisfaction can lead to stealing of properties and time especially if dissatisfied employees perceive the organization to be theftpermissive (Kulas, McInnerney, Frautschy DeMuth, & Jadwinski, 2007). Accordingly, Baumer and Rosenbaum (1984) found five motivational categories that have significant influence on the likelihood of employee theft. Young, male, and Caucasian employees who are concerned about their financial situation are more likely to commit stealing (personal factors). Thieving is rather committed by people who hold low-paid and low-status jobs (occupational factors). Theft is more likely to occur among employees who are dissatisfied with their workload, promotion, supervisor, or with the organization on the whole (job satisfaction). If employees believe that their organization does not care about stealing and that they will not get caught or do not have to face serious consequences, the occurrence of employee theft rises (deterrent effects). Organizations that do not have anti-theft policies or screen their future employees face a significantly higher rate of employee theft (organizational controls).

Workplace Sabotage Workplace sabotage shows itself for instance in poisoning products, arson, or introducing computer viruses. Therefore, this form of deviant behavior is defined

Reactions to Organizational Injustice: Counter Work Behaviors and the Insider Threat


as an intended damage, disruption, or subversion of organizations. It has most often two distinct connotations: the intention to damage company property and/or subvert company operations. This involves, quite simply, the destruction or tampering with (but strictly speaking not theft of) machinery and goods as well as attempting to stop or slow down production (Crino, 1994). Ambrose, Seabright, and Schminke (2002) examined the sabotage literature and identified five predominant motives: people’s attempt to attain personal control for its own sake (powerlessness), compensation of inadequate resources to do the job (organizational frustration), to make work easier (facilitation of work), attempt to get entertainment or distraction (boredom and fun), and the employees’ attempt to even the score (injustice). Injustice is, among the five suggested motives, the most considerable factor for predicting sabotage. However, they found out that the employees’ revenge generally targets at the source of injustice (the whole organization or one individual) and that interactional injustice rather causes retaliation while distributive injustice evokes equity restoration.

Workplace Aggression Aggressive behaviour in the workplace is a topic that gains more and more importance because perceived aggression in the workplace results in job dissatisfaction, turnover intentions, deviance, and less affective commitment to the organization (Hershcovis & Barling, 2010), which is an actual threat for organizations’ operations. Furthermore, Hershcovis and Barling (2010) found that supervisor aggression is stronger correlated to such negative outcomes than co-worker aggression. Workplace aggression is defined as any form of negative action against an organization or one of its members. An aggressive act can appear in verbal and physical form and victims of workplace aggression are motivated to avoid this behavior (Neuman & Baron 2005). The interesting thing is that aggressive controversies are highly complex and intentions to solve the problem sometimes lead to intensification. Furthermore, Andersson and Pearson (1999) showed that aggression begets aggression, which means that victims of CWBs are likely to reply with aggression. Additionally, the intensity of conflicts increases encouraged by perceived interactional injustice (Andersson & Pearson, 1999). A perpetrator’s motive can lie in his or her private life (e.g., debts, relationship problems) or in environmental circumstances (e.g., abusive supervision, rigid organizational policy) (Douglas et al., 2008). According to Greenberg and Baron (2003), individuals who are most likely to engage in acts of workplace aggression were exposed to aggressive behavior in their past, believe that revenge is an appropriate way to resolve conflicts and have a high level of trait anger. Personality traits like neuroticism and a hostile attribution style likewise increase the likelihood of aggressive behavior (Bolger & Zuckerman, 1995).


A. Furnham and E.M. Siegel

Cyberdeviance There are new risks around cyber-space and the new technology. On one hand, there are less serious forms of cyberdeviance (Weatherbee, 2010) like Internet abuse, illegal downloading or surfing during working hours, also referred to as cyberloafing, and on the other hand, there are cyber crimes that are a serious threat for organizations. In the knowledge economy, data and formula protection are very important. Organizations try hard to protect their data but serious leaks are frequently seen. People “hack into” data sets, expose private email “conversations” and steal secrets. Weatherbee (2010) states that the various kinds of counterproductive usage of technology in the workplace are on their increase and the outcomes of these modern CWBs can have severe consequences for whole organizations. The question is: does this change the pattern of bad behavior at work? What is different now is that most information is stored electronically. Whilst every effort is usually made to protect the data, there are conditions that are different from the past. Even today, more senior people tend to be older and less computer literate than younger people. Computer competence and literacy rather than seniority and position dictate who might have access to crucial information. Furthermore, it may be that relatively junior technical specialists in departments not well known for their good management have access to very important data. Thus, they may easily gain access to personal files, which hold certain personal information on performance appraisals, pay, and absenteeism. This data used to be exclusive to senior HR executives but can now be very easily accessed by others, particularly those with Internet skills. Thus, the young, highly computer literate, equity-sensitive, not particularly well-paid employee may have access to sensitive information. CWBs are mostly motivated by personal and situational factors. Especially the latter one has been affected by new technologies in the way that compromising information is much easier to gain. However, Fox, Spector, and Miles (2001) found evidence that employees who perceive organizational injustice commit cybercrimes rather to harm the organization than a superior or co-worker.

Organizational Citizenship Behavior The concept of OCB was introduced by Organ (1977, 1988), who examined the relationship between employees’ attitudes and their performance at work. According to Greenberg and Baron (2003), OCB is any form of behavior that goes beyond formal expectations in order to support colleagues or the whole organization; hence, it is a form of prosocial behavior which is considered to benefit others. Therefore, OCB can be seen as the opposite to CWBs (Fox et al., 2001). Although Spector and Fox (2010) argued that both forms of behavior are not reciprocally related to each other for they can occur simultaneously or subsequently committed by one person. For instance, if a supervisor demands more OCBs from

Reactions to Organizational Injustice: Counter Work Behaviors and the Insider Threat


an employee who is not really willing to perform these, he might have to face an increase of CWBs as well. The employee might do this to restore justice between the supervisor’s demand and the own readiness for action (Spector & Fox, 2010). Furthermore, they reported that boredom can both lead to CWB (Penney, Spector, Goh, Hunter, & Turnstall, 2007) and OCB (Rioux & Penner, 2001). There are different forms of OCBs (Greenberg & Baron, 2003), five of which are explained hereafter. An employee who volunteers or helps an overtaxed co-worker fulfilling a task does that mainly out of altruistic reasons. Conscientiousness occurs if someone does not “waste time” with personal matters during working hours or if someone stays longer at work if needed. Employees who keep up to date with new organizational developments or who take part in voluntary meetings pursue civil virtues. Sportsmanship shows in people who do their daily work without complaining. Finally, employees who stay calm when they are provoked and “turn the other cheek” just to obtain a positive working atmosphere show an act of courtesy. The question is: Why do some people engage in OCBs while others do not? The answer to that question can be found in organizational and situational as well as in dispositional factors. Rioux and Penner (2001) examined possible motives for OCBs and evolved a Citizenship Motive Scale including the employee’s concern for the organization, prosocial values and the intention to impress supervisors. In addition, several research groups (Podsakoff et al., 1996; Podsakoff et al., 1990; Zellars et al., 2002) reported that supportive leadership is a crucial organizational factor because it increases both job satisfaction and the likelihood of OCBs. On the contrary, employees are more likely to restrain prosocial behaviors when facing abusive supervision; procedural justice functions as a mediator of these effects (Zellars et al., 2002). Craig-Lees, Harris, and Lau (2008) argued that people who are community- and socially-oriented and who display interpersonal empathy are more likely to engage in volunteering. Accordingly, McNeely and Meglino (1994) could show that empathy and the value of concern for others are personality traits that serve as predictors for OCB intended to benefit individuals. Likewise, the situational variables distributional justice and recognition for desirable behavior are significant predictors for organizational prosocial behavior (McNeely & Meglino, 1994). Both situational variables could explain most of the variance in the relationship between job satisfaction and OCBs towards the organization. According to these results, psychological processes differ depending on the object of the OCB. These findings suit the social exchange theory (Blau, 1964) which indicates that people tend to reward those who support them.

Motivational Factors The previous discourse has already highlighted some motivators for both CWBs and OCBs. The following part will give an insight into the interaction of complex processes and dispositional factors leading to extra-task behaviors. However, motivators of CWBs will be discussed primarily.


A. Furnham and E.M. Siegel

There has been much research about the role of justice in organizations and its effects on CWBs and OCBs (e.g., Berry, Ones, & Sackett, 2007; Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001). In general, their results demonstrate that the goal as well as the target and the severity of both forms of active and volitional behaviors are highly deviant (Spector & Fox, 2010). Some work experiences trigger (Heuer, n.d.) bad behavior while others simply provide easy opportunities for “mischief” of many kinds. Some critical incident may trigger an overwhelming feeling of revenge and the inevitability of retaliation is set. It is not unusual for people to feel angry and vengeful at work after a bad experience. However, the question is: why is there such a huge variation in people’s behaviors? It is possible to identify several separate but overlapping sources of motivation to “misbehave” at work. Among these are the individual’s personality, the relationship between the individual and his or her employer and external influences (e.g., personal problems, changes in the economy). In this respect, meta-analyses could show that situational factors and personality, in contrast to demographic characteristics (e.g., age, gender, race), serve as moderators between perceived injustice and workplace deviance (Berry et al., 2007; Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001). It is suggested that personality traits determine how employees perceive their treatment at work and thereby predefine the behavior which is provoked by these perceptions. Colquitt, Scott, Judge, and Shaw (2006) found evidence that people with a high trust propensity and risk aversion experience unfair treatment to be much more negative than people who feel less committed to their organization and who are less risk-averse. Another personality trait which is commonly examined is negative affectivity. People who constantly experience negative emotions regardless of situation and time are more likely to perceive situations as unjust, particularly on the procedural and interactional level (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001). However, according to Devonish and Greenidge (2010), emotional intelligence, which contains the valuation and expression of emotion in the self and in others as well as the regulation and use of emotion, does not moderate the relationship between injustice and CWBs. (For detailed information on injustice sensitivity, see corresponding chapter in this volume: Baumert, Thomas, & Schmitt.) Another motivator for CWBs is the relationship between employer and employee. Do individuals feel positively or negatively towards their employer; do they feel loyalty or resentment; will they leave or will they try to exact revenge? This is called leader-follower exchange which is positively related to interactional justice (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001) and which looks at the nature of the relationships at work that is often a function of the leader’s style. This relationship can be one of trust and support which is associated with affective commitment and satisfaction or the opposite. Diverse empirical research gives evidence that unfair payment, superiors’ lack of interpersonal skills, distrust, or a lack of recognition elicit complex emotional and cognitive processes which support or inhibit an employee’s behavior. People who face interpersonal injustice react with anger (Ohbuchi et al., 2004). In this respect, Spector and Fox (2010) reported that people who engage in OCBs and who

Reactions to Organizational Injustice: Counter Work Behaviors and the Insider Threat


are not receiving the expected reward for their prosocial behavior may as well show anger and finally CWBs just to restore justice. Negative emotions in general are negatively related to procedural and distributive justice (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001; Fox et al., 2001). Likewise, Liao and Rupp (2005) as well as Cohen-Charash and Spector (2001) could demonstrate that people whose values are violated show lower levels of organizational commitment, job satisfaction and trust in superiors or in the organization. The organizational culture itself may cause or condone various forms of CWB as well. There are a number of poor management practices which have a significant contributory factor to the disaffection or lack of commitment and engagement of the insider. Such practices include: a general lack of management supervision; a failure to address individual issues in the workplace (e.g., absenteeism, anti-social behavior), resulting in those behaviors becoming more frequent or extreme; and a failure to address workplace issues (like overwork, boredom, or specific grievances) all adding to disaffection. Various common-sense models have been proposed and tested linking “good leadership and management” with desirable outcomes. The idea is that transformational leaders who inspire productivity and satisfaction lead to happy relationships at work and motivated employees (Ngodo, 2008). Importantly, there are two corollaries to this. Not being a successful (transactional) manager does not lead to desirable outcomes like trust, a sense of justice, productivity, or OCBs. Zellars et al. (2002) could demonstrate that an abusive leadership has negative effects on employees’ attitudes towards the organization in the way that abused subordinates are less likely to help co-workers, to behave in a courteous way, and to speak approvingly about the organization. This sort of non-punishable behavior, which is sometimes called “a low-intensity type of revenge”, can be a serious threat for any organization because people’s alacrity to engage in citizenship behaviors is connected to job satisfaction and commitment to the organization (Greenberg & Baron, 2003), both of which again correspond with perceived justice. Being an unsuccessful leader (selfish, inconsistent, unpredictable, hypocritical), leads to the opposite organizational effects: a sense of mistrust, injustice and CWBs. That is, poor management just like poor parenting causes serious long-term problems for all concerned (staff, share-holders, customers, etc.). Accordingly, Offermann and Hellmann (1996) examined the influence of different management styles and found evidence that a leader who has an autocratic style, who practices excessive pressure and who fails to elucidate the organization’s goals and responsibilities evokes greater stress among members of staff which again leads to lower performance and job commitment (Offermann & Hellmann 1996). Therefore, managers are at the front line in identifying counterwork behaviors and participating in legal actions against the individuals. Furthermore, they have to generate an atmosphere and environment which generates engagement (commitment, satisfaction), loyalty, and a strong work ethic, not distrust and alienation. In this respect, the day-to-day management, including managerial interpersonal skills, is a crucial factor. This refers to a manager’s competences and styles. They include


A. Furnham and E.M. Siegel

all variants of communication skills, favoritism, the general as well as the more serious issues of bullying and harassment. A lack of interpersonal skills serves as a predictor for employees feeling treated unfairly and dissatisfied with their job. Another approach to the relationship between leader skills and job satisfaction is pursued by van Quaquebeke and his research group. They examine the relevance of respect in organizational environments on the basis of studies which could show that the more supervisors show respectful behavior, the more their employees reveal an increase in performance and workplace satisfaction (e.g., Stogdill, 1950; van Quaquebeke & Eckloff, 2010). Additionally, respectful treatment by supervisors leads to employees who show favorable behavior and OCBs (Lind & Tyler, 1988). It could be demonstrated that employees rate respect as one of their most important values and that respectful behavior by the supervisor is of higher importance than by colleagues (van Quaquebeke, Zenker, & Eckloff, 2009). In order to define what respectful leadership means, van Quaquebeke and Eckloff (2010) evolved an inventory including 19 categories of behavior (e.g., appreciation, being error-friendly, promoting development, being open to advice, or interacting friendly). However, they also state that, unfortunately, organizations still put too little emphasis on these values. In an additional study, van Quaquebeke, Kerschreiter, Buxton, and van Dick (2010) analyzed both ideal (e.g., respect, honesty, loyalty) and counter-ideal values (e.g., anti-sociality, unreliability, arrogance). They came to the conclusion that employees feel a stronger sense of satisfaction and identification with their supervisors the more those meet their expectations on the value basis and vice versa. Therefore, it is important to consider both values that people cherish and reject. Another considerable issue arises when there is change (restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, change in the reporting line), which is always said to be necessary and linked to either survival or progress. However, it is often crudely done and deeply angers, frightens, and depresses many people (Dahl, 2011). Research shows that the Insider Threat is nearly always at its highest in times of change. Emotions run high, trust and justice issues come to the fore particularly when it comes to “internal communications” that are more PR than the truth. Once people see management communication as little more than “spin”, they can easily be tempted to react from vengeful whistle-blowing to increased absenteeism. However, Dahl (2011) could show that sickness absence rates as well as stress-related medication increase in times of organizational change. Finally, it comes as a surprise to many managers that money is not a major factor in people’s motivation (McClelland, 1967). A senior British political figure in the 1980s would frequently anger his civil servants by telling them that the principal motivation for everyone was money and that by introducing a performance pay scheme, productivity would increase. In fact, within the civil service it created more resentment than almost any other management scheme introduced in the second half of the twentieth century. Money features as a dissatisfier when the employees’ perception is that they are not receiving a fair day’s pay for their work (Kahnt, Domogalla, Jonas, Frey, & Poech, 2004). And the definition of fair is influenced by many things. In the first

Reactions to Organizational Injustice: Counter Work Behaviors and the Insider Threat


place, workers need to satisfy their standard of living, which has little to do with having sufficient money to live, but more to do with the repayments on a large mortgage, a new car, a larger family, or their annual skiing holiday. The salaries of friends or colleagues at work might also play their part in influencing someone to believe they are not being paid enough. Rarely does a single motive, experience or issue encourage an individual at work to react negatively. Many dynamic factors motivate individuals who may or may not be able to articulate their feelings. These complex motives can also change over time. The final, extreme act of leaving, thieving, or deceiving is nearly always the culmination of a number of factors and influences. The issue is how frequent and intense triggering incidents are and, more importantly, how they are dealt with. Finally, after constant provocation and perceived injustice, the employee may take some action. Initially it may be a loss of enthusiasm, an unwillingness to put in the extra effort to complete a task or find new jobs which could be done. It can also lead to more counter-productive activities.

The Justice Motive People know whether they are respected and precious group members or whether they are excluded from and exploited by groups by the way they are treated (e.g., Lind & Tyler, 1988). If this treatment is perceived as fair, people tend to show beneficial behavior in the form of increased task performance, job satisfaction, commitment, and prosocial behavior (e.g., Blakely, Andrews, & Moorman, 2005; Folger & Cropanzano, 1998; McNeely & Meglino, 1994; Zellars et al., 2002). On the contrary, an unfair treatment increases the likelihood of negative consequences like job dissatisfaction and CWBs (e.g., Berry et al., 2007; Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001; Lind, Greenberg, Scott & Welchans, 2000). In this respect, Lind and Tyler (1988) argued that people frequently evaluate the justice of single situations, which makes them quite sensitive towards cue information. However, the inter-individual differences in people’s perceptions of and reactions to triggering events are very high and they are of growing interest for justice researchers (e.g., Allen & White, 2002; Schmitt et al., 1995; Wijn & van den Bos, 2010). A number of factors relate to people’s reactions to injustice. These include the perception of the motives/state of mind of the wrong-doer (did they do it intentionally and with foresight of the consequences), as well as situational and dispositional factors. Also, the offenders’ justification and apologies play a role along with how others reacted to the unjust act. The relationship between the harmdoer and the victim is also important as is the public nature of the injustice. Victims of injustice want to restore their self-esteem and “educate” the offender. Usually, they retaliate by either withdrawal or attack. What is clear, however, is that people’s perception of fairness and justice at work is a powerful motivator in social behavior (Lerner & Lerner, 1981) and often a major cause of negative retaliation behaviors, as has already been demonstrated during the previous discourse.


A. Furnham and E.M. Siegel

The variance in people’s perception of and reactions to just or unjust incidents can be explained by the highly complex field of area-specific cognitions (e.g., cognition about a colleague’s office being bigger than the own one) and the concept of justice sensitivity (e.g., Huseman, Hatfield, & Miles, 1987; Schmitt et al., 1995), both of which are connected to motivational conditions. Justice sensitivity is classified as personality trait, which means that people are supposed to react to just or unjust situations in a persistent way. Opposed to this, Wijn and van den Bos (2010) argued that justice sensitivity prepossesses state values, too. This means that people who faced unjust events show stronger justice sensitivity afterwards. Therefore, justice sensitivity is composed of stable and state elements (Wijn & van den Bos, 2010). Research has determined three different types of justice-sensitive people (Huseman et al., 1987), namely benevolents, equity sensitives, and entitleds. Benevolents are referred to as “givers” because they are willing to bestow as much as possible to the organization but are relatively unaffected by unfair treatment. The counterparts are entitleds who are also labeled “takers”. Their ultimate ambition is to maximize their outcomes. In between, there are equity sensitives who tend to achieving balance between input and outcome. As these different categorizations suggest, there are behavioral differences between the three types. Benevolents are more likely to tolerate unfair payment whereas entitleds are more likely to react stronger than benevolents to pay inequities by reducing their job performance (Allen & White, 2002). Accordingly, Kickul, Gundry, and Posig (2005) found that trust in the organization and in supervisors is a mediator in the relationship between employees’ justice sensitivity and their perceived organizational justice. The influence of justice sensitivity on fairness perceptions decreases if people obtain trust and respect from their organization. On the contrary, if the level of trust is low, employees show a higher level of justice sensitivity (Kickul et al., 2005). As previous parts could show, perceived justice influences employees’ behaviors. Blakely et al. (2005) examined the moderating effect of justice sensitivity on the relationship between perceived justice and OCBs. They found that the likelihood of OCBs increases with a rising level of perceived organizational justice and that justice sensitivity serves as a moderator between both. Especially entitleds show a tremendous increase in OCBs if the level of justice is high. This effect is lower for benevolents because they are relatively tolerant of inequities and therefore they also engage in OCBs when organizational justice is low. However, Colquitt et al. (2006) found that the three personality traits trust propensity, risk aversion, and morality, which have already been explained previously, are important moderator variables for the relationship between perceived justice (distributive, procedural, and interactional) and deviant behaviors at work. Moreover, they could show that they are more relevant for the prediction of CWBs and task performance than justice sensitivity. Nevertheless, the previous discourse could show that the justice motive is important for the evaluation of organizational events and the resulting behavior.

Reactions to Organizational Injustice: Counter Work Behaviors and the Insider Threat


Prevention of CWBs As already illustrated, there are numerous factors that inhibit or encourage the occurrence of counterproductive behavior at work. Although the employees’ personality and justice sensitivity play an important role in the perception of just or unjust treatment, the following part gives some suggestions how CWBs can be prevented or at least minimized.

Values and Standards Many organizations have a statement on values and standards sometimes described as an ethical code. They also write vision, mission and ethical code statements, which they may broadcast as much for PR as serious implementation. Some create simple but important codes of behavior which are somewhere between rule books and etiquette books. The emphasis is often on the positive aspects: designed to encourage teamwork, professionalism, drive, and other qualities to ensure customer satisfaction, productivity, and, no doubt, profit – though that is rarely mentioned in such statements. Members of staff do need to know, however, what is and is not acceptable (Greenberg & Baron, 2003). The rule book will exist somewhere but it has to be accessible and readable, the main topics clear and easy to be repeated. Organizations like to have a catchy phrase, preferably alliterative. The danger is that it becomes too catchy and is therefore easily dismissed as part of the decoration. However, Davies (2000) notes that “[o]rganizations which successfully promote high standards of ethical conduct have a lower incidence of fraud and find out about fraud incidents earlier” (p. 257).

Recognition, Advancement, Proper Use of Employee Skills It is part of most societies’ culture to train young people to say ‘thank you’ and to show gratitude for things done or given. Failing to show gratitude to those who deserve it offends against the norms of society. The unrecognized person in the workplace soon becomes dispirited. Employees can be particularly motivated if they are effectively and judiciously recognized. In this respect, Bayram, Gursakal, and Bilgel (2009) could show that recognition and praise is highly related to workplace satisfaction. Workers who perceive a good relationship at work, fewer constraints, as well as a light workload are more satisfied and therefore less likely to commit CWBs. In contrast, a lack of promotion increases absenteeism and perceived injustice and decreases commitment to the organization (Schwarzwald, Koslowsky, & Sharlit, 1992).


A. Furnham and E.M. Siegel

Most staff opinions surveys report that staff feel unappreciated and that they do not feel valued. It is not a question of money; it is in many cases a lack of courtesy. Recognition and appreciation come in other forms: job titles, certificates, pictures and interviews in the in-house magazine. For some, status is important because they want others to know they hold a senior position or have a particular expertise. Labels mean something to them. It has also been shown that employees treat their customers as their boss treats them (Andersson & Pearson, 1999). Lind et al. (2000) interviewed 996 employed adults and the results of their study have clear practical implications for all organizations. Thus, employees have to be treated justly throughout their employment and the organization should foster the impression that procedural and distributive justice is of particular importance. Managers have to be honest when terminating people; besides, they have to treat them with dignity and respect. The dignity and self-respect of those terminated can be enhanced by such things as providing transitional alumni status, symbols/gifts of positive regard, and offers of counseling.

Procedures Most organizations assert fair treatment of all employees and try to provide some way of dealing with complaints because they believe it directly effects employee commitment, productivity, and loyalty. Supervisors can do a lot to reduce CWBs by treating their staff fairly and equitably, as could be revealed by Everton, Kenexa, and Mastrangelo (2007). Some typical procedural justice systems are explained hereafter (Everton et al., 2007; Greenberg & Baron, 2003; Kreitner & Kinicki, 2009). If employees experience waste, fraud, or abuse, they should be given the opportunity to use toll-free telephone numbers anonymously to report these incidents. Moreover, organizations can provide question/answer newsletters, in which employees’ questions and concerns are investigated, answered, and openly reported to the organizational community. Ombudspersons can be appointed, who may investigate claims of unfair treatment or act as intermediaries between an employee and senior management and recommend possible courses of actions to the parties. Another beneficial procedure can be seen in so called open-door policies. Employees can approach senior managers with problems that they may not be willing to take to their immediate supervisor. A related mechanism is a “skiplevel” policy, whereby employees may proceed directly to the next higher level of management above their supervisor. Furthermore, organizations should pursue certain grievance procedures in which employees can seek a formal, impartial review of decisions that directly affect them. For instance, members of staff can get the possibility to meet with senior company officials and openly ask questions about company strategy, policies, and practices or raise concerns about unfair treatment. Additionally, the employees’ input on key problems and decisions can be obtained in committees or meetings.

Reactions to Organizational Injustice: Counter Work Behaviors and the Insider Threat


Finally, participative management systems, in which employee involvement in all aspects of organizational strategy and decision making is encouraged, can lead to a stronger organizational commitment.

Role models Leaders and managers have to be “beyond criticism” (Greenberg & Baron, 2003). Otherwise they are all too easily seen as hypocrites, not practicing what they preach and bringing the whole system into disrepute. Leaders are scrutinized by their staff – not just for inspiration, new ideas and direction, but also on what they do and how they do it. Moreover, employees tend to emulate their manager’s behaviors (Greenberg & Baron, 2003). Word travels quickly when a boss’s expenses include expensive wines and the travel of personal partners. Greenberg and Baron (2003) suggest that employees might think that taking office supplies or making personal phone calls are acceptable behaviors if their managers perform them as well.

Conclusions The previous chapter could show that perceived injustice triggers various kinds of CWB. On the whole, almost anyone in the organization is a potential threat in the sense that things can happen to people in and outside the organization to change a conscientious, moral, and trust-worthy individual into a serious threat to the welfare of the organization. Whilst it is true that some people are more vulnerable to being tempted to commit a range of CWBs nearly every person has a “tipping point” where they are pushed over the edge. While there is a long list of CWBs from arson to theft, the causes are surprisingly familiar. They depend partly on the character of the individual and partly on the opportunity they have to commit particular CWBs. Nevertheless, there is still a huge variance that could not be explained yet. The personality traits, situational and organisational factors examined so far only partly explain the relation between perceived justice and CWBs. Future research should therefore focus on additional moderator variables like personality traits, personal problems, or coping strategies of the employee to explain the deviance in counterproductive behavior or task performance. The supervisor-employee relationship is crucial for the morale and engagement of individuals. It is said that people leave managers, not organizations, and that people are equally shaped by good teachers for the rest of their lives. Whilst managers may not be responsible for many aspects of an employee’s “pay and conditions”, the way they manage can have a dramatic impact on a person’s day-today well-being. Managers can be a cause of stress, demoralization, lack of trust, and perceptions of injustice. Badly managed people are the most common cause of


A. Furnham and E.M. Siegel

turning a good worker into a threat to the organization. In short, the Insider Threat often comes from bad managers: bullies who show favoritism; those who give no support or control to their staff, only pressure; and those who are egotistically selfobsessed. Therefore, managers should obtain comprehensive training of real quality before leading people. Company policy and culture also play a part in all CWBs. Every organization has a culture, or more often cultures, which are patterns of behavior and shared beliefs. Some of these can condone certain CWBs like unjustified absenteeism, “liberating stock”, and “getting even” with bosses. These are difficult to change and there needs to be “straight talk” about what is acceptable and not acceptable, which all managers should seriously model.

References Adams, J. S. (1965). Inequity in social exchange. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 267–299). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Aldhizer, G. R. (2008). The insider threat. Internal Auditor, 65(2), 71–73. Allen, R. S., & White, C. S. (2002). Equity sensitivity theory: A test of responses to two types of under-reward situations. Journal of Managerial Issues, 14(4), 435–451. Ambrose, M. L., Seabright, M. A., & Schminke, M. (2002). Sabotage in the workplace: The role of organizational injustice. Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, 89, 947–965. Andersson, L. M., & Pearson, C. M. (1999). Tit for tat? The spiraling effect of incivility in the workplace. The Academy of Management Review, 24, 452–471. Aquino, K., Tripp, T. M., & Bies, R. J. (2001). How employees respond to personal offense: The effects of blame attribution, victim status, and offender status on revenge and reconciliation in the workplace. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 52–59. Baumer, T. L., & Rosenbaum, D. P. (1984). Combating retail theft: Programs and strategies. Boston, MA: Butterworth. Bayram, N., Gursakal, N., & Bilgel, N. (2009). Counterproductive work behavior among whitecollar employees: A study from Turkey. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 17, 180–188. Berry, C. M., Ones, D. S., & Sackett, P. R. (2007). Interpersonal deviance, organizational deviance, and their common correlates: A review and meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 410–424. Bies, R. J., & Moag, J. S. (1986). Interactional justice: Communication criteria of fairness. In R. J. Lewicki, B. H. Sheppard, & M. H. Bazerman (Eds.), Research on negotiation in organizations (Vol. 1, pp. 43–55). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. Blakely, G. L., Andrews, M. C., & Moorman, R. H. (2005). The moderating effects of equity sensitivity on the relationship between organizational justice and organizational citizenship behaviors. Journal of Business and Psychology, 20(2), 259–273. Blau, P. (1964). Exchange and power in social life. New York: Wiley. Bolger, N., & Zuckerman, A. (1995). A framework for studying personality in the stress process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 890–902. Cohen-Charash, Y., & Spector, P. E. (2001). The role of justice in organizations: A meta-analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 86(2), 278–321.

Reactions to Organizational Injustice: Counter Work Behaviors and the Insider Threat


Colquitt, J. A., Scott, B. A., Judge, T. A., & Shaw, J. C. (2006). Justice and personality: Using integrative theories to derive moderators of justice effects. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 100, 110–127. Craig-Lees, M., Harris, J., & Lau, W. (2008). The role of dispositional, organizational and situational variables in volunteering. Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, 19, 1–24. Crino, M. D. (1994). Employee sabotage: A random or preventable phenomenon? Journal of Managerial Issues, 6, 311–330. Cropanzano, R., & Greenberg, J. (1997). Progress in organizational justice: Tunneling through the maze. In C. L. Cooper & I. T. Robertson (Eds.), International review of industrial and organizational psychology (pp. 317–372). New York: John Wiley & Sons. Dahl, M. S. (2011). Organizational change and employee stress. Management Science, 57(2), 240–256. Davies, D. (2000). Fraud watch. London: Croner CCH Group. Devonish, D., & Greenidge, D. (2010). The effect of organizational justice on contextual performance, counterproductive work behaviors, and task performance: Investigating the moderating role of ability-based emotional intelligence. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 18, 75–86. Douglas, S. C., Kiewitz, C., Martinko, M. J., Harvey, P., Kim, Y., & Chun, J. U. (2008). Cognitions, emotions, and evaluations: An elaboration likelihood model for workplace aggression. Academy of Management Review, 33(2), 425–451. Everton, W. J., Kenexa, J. A., & Mastrangelo, P. M. (2007). Be nice and fair or else: Understanding reasons for employees’ deviant behaviors. Journal of Management Development, 26, 117–131. Folger, R., & Cropanzano, R. (1998). Organizational justice and human resource management. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Fox, S., Spector, P. E., & Miles, D. (2001). Counterproductive work behavior (CWB) in response to job stressors and organizational justice: Some mediator and moderator tests for autonomy and emotions. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 59, 291–309. Greenberg, J. (1993). The social side of fairness: Interpersonal and informational classes of organizational justice. In R. Cropanzano (Ed.), Justice in the workplace: Approaching fairness in human resource management (pp. 79–103). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Greenberg, J., & Baron, R. A. (2003). Behavior in organizations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. Hershcovis, M. S., & Barling, J. (2010). Towards a multi-foci approach to workplace aggression: A meta-analytic review of outcomes from different perpetrators. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31(1), 24–44. Heuer, R. J. (n.d.). Treason 101: Insider threat. DSS/Security Research Centre. Huseman, R. C., Hatfield, J. D., & Miles, E. W. (1987). A new perspective on equity theory: The equity sensitivity construct. Academy of Management Review, 12, 222–234. Kahnt, A., Domogalla, C., Jonas, E., Frey, D., & Poech, A. (2004). Geld als Motivator: Die Rolle des finanziellen Status in der Einstellung zu Geld [Money as a motivator: The financial status plays a role for the attitude towards money]. Wirtschaftspsychologie, 2, 3–11. Kickul, J., Gundry, L. K., & Posig, M. (2005). Does trust matter? The relationship between equity sensitivity and perceived organizational justice. Journal of Business Ethics, 56, 205–218. Kreitner, R., & Kinicki, A. (2009). Organizational behavior. Bur Ridge, IL: McGraw-Hill. Kulas, J. T., McInnerney, J. E., Frautschy DeMuth, R., & Jadwinski, V. (2007). Employee satisfaction and theft: Testing climate perceptions as a mediator. Journal of Psychology, 141(4), 389–402. Lerner, M. J., & Lerner, S. C. (1981). The justice motive in social behavior: Adapting to times of scarcity and change. New York: Plenum. Liao, H., & Rupp, D. E. (2005). The impact of justice climate and justice orientation on work outcomes: A cross-level mulifoci framework. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 242–256.


A. Furnham and E.M. Siegel

Lind, E. A., Greenberg, J., Scott, K. S., & Welchans, T. D. (2000). The winding road from employee to complainant: Situational and psychological determinants of wrongful termination claims. Administrative Science Quarterly, 45, 557–590. Lind, E. A., & Tyler, T. R. (1988). The social psychology of procedural justice. New York: Plenum Press. McClelland, D. C. (1967). Money as a motivator: Some research. McKinsey Quarterly, 4(2), 10–21. McNeely, B. L., & Meglino, B. M. (1994). The role of dispositional and situational antecedents in prosocial organizational behavior: An examination of the intended beneficiaries of prosocial behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79, 836–844. Neuman, J. H., & Baron, R. A. (2005). Aggression in the workplace: A social-psychological perspective. In S. Fox & P. E. Spector (Eds.), Counterproductive work behavior: Investigations of actors and targets (pp. 13–40). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Ngodo, O. (2008). Procedural justice and trust: The link in the transformational leadershiporganizational outcomes relationship. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 4, 82–100. Niehoff, B. P., & Paul, R. J. (2000). Causes of employee theft and strategies that HR managers can use for prevention. Human Resource Management, 39(1), 51–64. Offermann, L. R., & Hellmann, P. S. (1996). Leadership behavior and subordinate stress: A 360 view. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 1, 382–390. Ohbuchi, H., Tamura, T., Quigley, B. M., Tedeschi, J. T., Madi, N., Bond, M. H., et al. (2004). Anger, blame, and dimensions of perceived norm violations: Culture, gender, and relationships. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 34, 1587–1603. Organ, D. W. (1977). A reappraisal and reinterpretation of the satisfaction-causes-performance hypothesis. Academy of Management Review, 2, 46–53. Organ, D. W. (1988). Organizational citizenship behavior: The good soldier syndrome. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books. Penney, L. M., Spector, P. E., Goh, A., Hunter, E. M., & Turnstall, M. (2007). A motivational analysis of counterproductive work behavior (CWB). University of Houston, Houston, TX. Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., & Bommer, W. H. (1996). Transformational leader behaviors and substitutes for leadership as determinants of employee satisfaction, commitment, trust, and organizational citizenship behaviors. Journal of Management, 22, 259–298. Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Moorman, R. H., & Fetter, R. (1990). Transformational leader behaviors and their effects on followers’s trust in leader, satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behaviors. Leadership Quarterly, 1, 107–142. Rioux, S. M., & Penner, L. A. (2001). The causes of organizational citizenship behavior: A motivational analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 1306–1314. Robinson, S. L., & Bennett, R. J. (1995). A typology of deviant workplace behaviors: A multidimensional scaling study. Academy of Management Journal, 38, 555–572. Sauser, W. I., Jr. (2007). Employee theft: Who, how, why, and what can be done. SAM Advanced Management Journal, 72(3), 13–25. Schmitt, M., Neumann, R., & Montada, L. (1995). Justice sensitivity. Social Justice Research, 8, 385–407. Schwarzwald, J., Koslowsky, M., & Sharlit, B. (1992). A field study of employees’ attitudes and behaviours after promotion decisions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 511–514. Spector, P. E., & Fox, S. (2010). Counterproductive work behavior and organisational citizenship behavior: Are they opposite forms of active behavior? Applied Psychology, 59, 21–39. Stogdill, R. M. (1950). Leadership, membership and organization. Psychological Bulletin, 47(1), 1–14. Thibaut, J., & Walker, L. (1975). Procedural justice: A psychological analysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. van Quaquebeke, N., & Eckloff, R. (2010). Defining respectful leadership: What it is, how it can be measured, and another glimpse at what it is related to. Journal of Business Ethics, 91, 343–358.

Reactions to Organizational Injustice: Counter Work Behaviors and the Insider Threat


van Quaquebeke, N., Kerschreiter, R., Buxton, A. E., & van Dick, R. (2010). Two lighthouses to navigate: Effects of ideal and counter-ideal values on follower identification and satisfaction with their leaders. Journal of Business Ethics, 93, 293–305. van Quaquebeke, N., Zenker, S., & Eckloff, R. (2009). Find out how much it means to me! The importance of interpersonal respect in work values compared to perceived organizational practices. Journal of Business Ethics, 89, 423–431. Weatherbee, T. G. (2010). Counterproductive use of technology at work: Information & communications technologies and cyberdeviancy. Human Resource Management Review, 20, 35–44. Wijn, R., & van den Bos, K. (2010). Toward a better understanding of the justice judgment process: The influence of fair and unfair events on state justice sensitivity. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 1294–1301. Zellars, B. J., Tepper, B. J., & Duffy, M. K. (2002). Abusive supervision and subordinates’ organisational citizenship behaviour. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 1068–1076.


Organizational Justice Elisabeth Kals and Patrick Jiranek

Abstract Organizational justice, subsuming the dimensions of distributive, procedural, and interactional justice, depicts a multi-facetted mega-construct, bearing the potential of becoming a key variable on different levels of organizational research. On a theoretical level, issues of justice should be regarded as prescriptive norms, which might but do not necessarily cover self-interest. Instead, justice models seem to have the strongest theoretical impact and predictive power with regard to behavior when they assume that struggling for justice and restoring perceived injustice is a single and independent human motive. As will be shown below on an empirical level, members of organizations make differentiated justice judgments on decisions in the workplace. These judgments are powerful predictors of workrelated outcomes. Along with trust in supervisor and traditional variables, such as scope of action and level of payment, justice judgments are able to explain considerable amounts of the variance of these criteria. With regard to the practical level, a realization of organizational justice might remain utopian, but it offers criteria to weigh and judge organizational decisions and to mediate social conflicts so that it can become an effective maxim for aligning behavioral decisions within organizations.

E. Kals (*) Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Catholic University Eichst€att-Ingolstadt, Eichst€att, Germany e-mail: [email protected] P. Jiranek Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Z€ urich, Z€urich, Switzerland E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_13, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



E. Kals and P. Jiranek

Introduction: The Perception of Justice in the Organizational Context There is a long-lasting research tradition on fairness perceptions in the organizational setting. Over decades, empirical studies on a construct, which in the early nineties of the last century received the label “organizational justice” (Greenberg, 1987), have predominantly been conducted in the US. In consequence, Englishspeaking meta-analyses have drawn on great numbers of empirical studies rooted in the Anglo-Saxon world. In the German cultural background the application of justice research on the organizational setting has received growing attention only recently, as reflected in several publications (Liebig, 2002; Maier, Streicher, Jonas, & Frey, 2007; M€uller, 2006; Nerdinger, 2007; Streicher, Jonas, Maier, Wosche´e, & Waßmer, 2008). With this contribution we intend to follow the current path of research on organizational justice by acknowledging the idiosyncrasy of the German cultural background especially with regard to the construct’s conceptualization and by showing implications on a psychologically established mediation. In organizations the issue of justice is ubiquitous on various levels, becoming relevant when organizational change is promoted: the application of lean management or the dismissal and retirement of employees are issues concerning not only the ones affected but also those who remain in the organization. Even the public, which is not directly involved in the matter, makes judgments on whether the dismissals are just and justified or not. Discussions on managerial income and bonus payments accompany these judgments of injustice. After introducing a new remuneration system in a medium-sized company, an attendant discussion instantly flares up raising the question whether the former system is more just than the latter. Teachers might feel treated unfairly as job demands increase while the general conditions worsen (class size, curriculum’s density). A supervisor commands his or her employee not to attend upcoming important team meetings in a rude and indecent email. The employee infers from the email potential reasons, while his anger and the experience of unfair treatment escalate. It is not until the supervisor apologizes and informs about the background that the anger diminishes and the decision is perceived as a fair one. The examples given show the range of justice perceptions as well as judgments and their impact on different levels of organizational behavior and decisionmaking. They are subsumed under the mega-construct of “organizational justice”.

Organizational Justice as a Normative Standard Organizational justice describes the perception and understanding of fairness in organizations. The notion “organization” is defined as a social entity of members pursuing common goals via coordinated activity (Kals & Gallenm€uller-Roschmann, 2011). Thus, the term organization does not only comprise commercial enterprises,

Organizational Justice


but for instance also refers to non-profit organizations, public administration agencies, schools, universities, etc. All applications of the term “justice” have in common that they imply a normative standard in the sense of a categorical imperative as opposed to a utilitarian approach. “It ought to be like this and must not be different in order to be just” (Montada & Kals, 2007, p. 107). The substantial understanding of the normative standard, which is based on the concept of justice, is grasped differently and often not expatiated, as for instance with regard to the concept of equity in social exchange. Additionally, different justice criteria can be applied, like for example the equity principle, the equality principle, the need principle, or the seniority principle (cf. Folger, Sheppard, & Buttram, 1995; Maes & Schmitt, 2004; Reis, 1984). Hence, in daily organizational life, diametrically opposed decisions (e.g., promotion yes or no) are defended by the argument that “the decision is just” and subjectively also perceived this way. This leads to our understanding and conception of justice as a pluralistic, multi-facetted construct, instead of perceiving it in the sense of a single-dimensional construct. From an empirical-psychological perspective the objective is not to supply normative answers to questions of justice in organizations. Instead, the subjective experience of organizational members is the core point of interest. This interest is not only epistemological in nature but also of practical relevance: to substantially understand conflicting organizational decisions, the justice perceptions of different groups need to be addressed in order to structurally comprehend the ongoing debate on justice. Based on this, solutions accounting for subjective justice beliefs can be developed, entailing outcomes subjectively perceived to be just.

Dimensions of Organizational Justice With regard to the historical development of empirical justice research (e.g., Skitka & Crosby, 2003) a two-factor model was advocated in the beginning, solely distinguishing the dimensions distributive and procedural justice. Distributive justice deals with the fairness-related judgment of distributions (cf. Leventhal, 1976). For instance, the allocations made can comprise material goods, responsibilities, rights, risks, privileges, gains, and losses based on various justice principles (Folger et al., 1995). Of decisive relevance is which social entity the judgment regarding the distribution refers to. Is the whole organization to be considered concerning the distribution, or solely single units and hierarchical levels, or exclusively a single person (Fischer et al., 2007)? The second dimension, namely procedural justice, does not emphasize the result of a distribution, but rather the question of how the decision leading to the distribution was made (Leventhal, 1980; Leventhal, Karuza, & Fry, 1980; Thibaut & Walker, 1975). The procedure, respectively the process is central in this context. If, for example, there are diverging opinions to be conciliated, the parties included are thoroughly concerned with the design of the decision process and whether this


E. Kals and P. Jiranek

process meets the subjective requirements of fairness (cf. M€uller, 2006). Originally, the conditions were described by Leventhal (Leventhal, 1980) and were further developed (cf. Bierhoff, 1992; Lind & Tyler, 1988; Montada & Kals, 2007). The research on distributive and procedural justice is extensive and meanwhile there is consensus regarding a divided conceptualization (cf. T€ornblom & Vermunt, 2007). The two-dimensional conceptualization of organizational justice has been expanded by a third domain, namely interactional justice. Interactional justice relates primarily to respectful and decent interpersonal behavior and is crucial as to whether an individual appraises an outcome as fair or unfair (Bies, 2001; Bobocel & Holmvall, 2001; Lind & Taylor, 1988). By now, a four-dimensional conceptualization has been put forth under the influence of a proposal made by Greenberg (1993) (cf. Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter, & Ng, 2001). Hence, interactional justice is differentiated into informational and interpersonal justice (cf. Colquitt, Greenberg, & Zapata-Phelan, 2005). Informational justice is defined as “providing knowledge about procedures that demonstrate regards for people’s concerns” (Greenberg, 1993, p. 84). Interpersonal justice, however, refers to “showing concern for individuals regarding the distributive outcome they receive” (Greenberg, 1993, p. 85). In current research there is no standardized conceptualization of organizational justice (Colquitt, 2001). As could be shown in various meta-analyses, the construct has been conceptualized as one-, two-, three-, or four-dimensional (Cohen-Carash & Spector, 2001; Colquitt et al., 2001; Nowakowski & Conlon, 2005). The present article follows the proposal made by Cohen-Charash and Spector (2001). The authors conclude a three-dimensional conceptualization after their review of meta-analyses-relevant studies covering the three traditional domains of distributive, procedural, and interactional justice.

The Economical and Psychological Impact of Organizational Justice Organizational justice is relevant from an economic as well as a psychological perspective. After all, justice and injustice perceptions, respectively, have correlates of great impact on the organization and organizational members, as well: The experience of injustice by employees in organizations can lead to counterproductive behaviors (Nerdinger, 2000, 2007), bearing the potential to harm legitimate interests of the affected organization (Bies & Tripp, 2005; Colquitt et al., 2001; Greenberg, 1990; Marcus & Schuler, 2004). Counterproductive workplace behavior can assume various exogenous shapes like, for instance, theft; damage to organizational property; misuse of information, labor time or resources; absenteeism; or intentional poor quality of work. It is conceived as a reaction to a perceived violation of norm on behalf of another party or to a perceived misbehavior on behalf of other individuals. The conflict party is held responsible for their acting and for the

Organizational Justice


resulting injustice. In consequence, deliberate harm or inconveniences are inflicted upon the conflict party (Aquino, Tripp, & Bies, 2001; Gruys & Sackett, 2003). The damage caused in commercial enterprises by counterproductive workplace behavior is estimated between two to three billion dollars (e.g., Murphy, 1993). With regard to Germany, Disselkamp (2004) reports an estimation of 50 billion Euros of loss of income arising from inner dismissal, conflicts in the workplace and the hitherto related drop-out rate, reflected for instance in the number of staff on sick leave. From an organizational perspective, perceived justice is usually attended by positive employee behavior. For instance, behavioral reactions can range from organizational citizenship behavior (OCB; cf. Chiaburu, 2007; Hoffman, Blair, Meriac, & Woehr, 2007; Staufenbiel & Hartz, 2000) to extra-role behavior (Nerdinger, 2000), to voluntary work engagement, or innovation behavior (cf. Greenberg & Colquitt, 2005). In addition, interrelations between justice perceptions and emotional variables have been reported, like for example positively experienced emotions in the work context, job satisfaction, or affective commitment (cf. Barsky & Kaplan, 2007; Cohen-Carash & Spector, 2001). The positive motivational and economic effects of these variables are undisputed and considered common sense in the work- and organizational as well as business-management literature. On the whole, research findings consentaneously indicate the close relationship of organizational (in-)justice with business-related outcomes, either functional or dysfunctional in nature. Thus, from an economic as well as a psychological perspective, there is great mutual interest to further analyze the implications of organizational justice and to put emphasis on focusing the construct in future research.

Organizational Justice Model and Methodology To further analyze the correlates and impact of organizational justice, a theoretical model has been developed and partly empirically tested (cf. Fig. 1). The model is in line with a corresponding model on responsible behavior to protect nature (Montada, Kals, & Becker, 2007). Reflected in the model are the various dimensions of organizational justice, construed as predictor variables aiming to behavioral commitments as criteria, together with other cognitive appraisals and emotional valuations. The emotions embrace job satisfaction, operationalized as feelings of satisfaction and contentment, as well as other emotions, like various forms of indignation, identity, pride, etc. Their prediction is based on cognitive theories of emotion (cf. Lazarus, 1984; Montada, 1989; Montada & Kals, 2007). In the same way, the behavioral commitments encompass positive commitments and intentions or, as previously mentioned, counterproductive workplace behavior to harm the organization (Nerdinger, 2000, 2007). They include willingness for continued commitments as valid proxies of manifest behaviors. The transfer of the commitments into action should be moderated by situational and social context variables (Montada et al., 2007).


E. Kals and P. Jiranek



Appraisals of distributive, procedural, and interactive justice/injustice within the organization

Indignation about perceived injustices on various dimensions

Appraisals of responsibilites and values within the organization

Indignation about the violation of values

Appraisals of basic rights of members of the organizations

Indignation about violation of basic rights

Appraisals of job conditions: payment, scope of action, support, job security

Satisfaction with one`s job and its conditions, fear about losing one`s job

Identity, emotional attachment towards the organization, trust, thankfulness, and pride

Contextual conditions A: availability of facilities and costs (money, time, effort to act etc.)

Willingness for continued positive and counterproductive organizational commitments

Manifest activities

Contextual conditions B: Degreee of social consent within one`s personal organizational environment/ within society

Fig. 1 A model of organizational justice

A closer look should be taken at the operationalization of organizational justice. The proposed questionnaire builds on three justice dimensions, each represented by 5–7 items with a six-point Likert type answering scale (M€uller, K€archer, & Kals, submitted): • Distributive justice (“To what extent are you fairly treated at your workplace if you have done good work?”), • Procedural justice (“To what extent are you included in decision processes at your workplace?”), • Interactional justice, comprising informational and interpersonal justice (“To what extent do you experience appreciation and respect at your workplace?”). The reliability and validity of the scales were thoroughly tested. Beside the questionnaire studies, vignette studies and half-structured interviews were conducted and public self-documents of the organizations were analyzed with regards to justice issues. Business enterprises made up the main part of the organizations, but members of non-profit organizations, administrations and schools were also questioned. From this research field, some findings will be reported in the following.

Some Empirical Findings With regard to the descriptive level, it becomes evident that issues of organizational justice play a crucial role in the public relations of an organization. High figures of notions reflecting organizational justice (like “fair treatment of our staff”) can be

Organizational Justice


found in various organizational documents. This shows that decision makers seem to be aware of justice issues and their potentially positive impact on the corporate reputation. If the members of various categories of organizations are asked, the judgments are rather differentiated: The variance of all aggregated variables of organizational justice is above one. The arithmetical means of distributive justice are around the midpoint of the scale, whereas procedural justice receives more consent. Interactional justice gains the highest affirmation, however showing high variance. When taking a closer look at single items, sensible patterns of (dis-)agreement become evident; for example: In the various questionnaire studies items of interactional justice building on appreciation and respectful social interaction between executives and organizational members receive the highest agreement and exert the biggest impact on the factor. Whether pieces of information are given in a frank and honest manner, appears to be less important. To test the relative impact of organizational justice perceptions, findings on two selected criteria should be reported: of affective job satisfaction and of commitments to engage for the longer-lasting aims of the organization, independent of specific situational circumstances. Job satisfaction is one of the essential human work criteria (cf. Spector, 1997). To be content with one’s work and its conditions implies positive feelings and experiences toward work and affects the quality of working results. Consequently, there is a greater amount of models, like the model of job satisfaction of Porter and Lawler (1968), the VIE-theory of Vroom (1964) or the two-factor-theory of Herzberg, Mausner, and Snyderman (1959), aiming to explain the development of job satisfaction. Keeping differences and peculiarities of these models and their underlying traditions in mind, perceived scope of action and pay satisfaction seem to represent something like “core predictors”. Pay satisfaction as a monetary criterion follows the tradition of economic disciplines, whereas scope of action is the work-psychological variable bearing the potential to explain positive commitments toward work and can be regarded as one of the psychological cornerstones for workplace design (Kals & Gallenm€ullerRoschmann, 2011). Consequently, the impact of organizational justice was tested against these two core variables when it comes to the prediction and explanation of job satisfaction and positive commitments. Trust in supervisor and various organizational values were integrated as further predictors in the justice model. This is in line with empirical correlations between forms of organizational trust and work variables, including job satisfaction (e.g., Ambrose & Schminke, 2003; Aryee, Budhwar, & Chen, 2002; Callaway, 2007; Lewicki, Wiethoff, & Tomlinson, 2005). In the presented study, the operationalization of trust was based on professional as well as social skills. Multiple regression analyses reveal that the combination of traditional predictors (scope of action and pay satisfaction) and innovative predictors (justice perceptions, trust, and values) best predict job satisfaction; for example: Asking 139 members of a call centre, 64% of the variance in job satisfaction can be explained by a stepwise multiple regression analysis. The highest impact has


E. Kals and P. Jiranek

perceived scope of action, followed by perceived interactional justice, pay satisfaction and the realized value for personal development in the organization: job satisfaction rises the more organizational members see possibilities to influence their work (e.g., their specific work conditions, the timing, etc.), the more they recognize that the social interaction and dealing at their workplace is fair, the more they perceive their payment as adequate and fair, and the more they recognize that relevant decision-makers accept personal development of their staff as an important value to coordinate the company. Two further studies confirm these findings: In a German study, 212 members of mid-size German companies were asked to answer the same questionnaire presented above (Jiranek, 2009). In the resulting multiple regression analysis, 63% of the variance of job satisfaction can be explained by trust in supervisor, perceived scope of action and interactional justice. This corresponds with survey results on 395 teachers in a Korean school with the same variable set. 45% of the variance of job satisfaction is explained by perceived distributive justice, trust in supervisor, scope of action, and procedural justice (Lee, Moon, Kals, & Jiranek, 2009). When removing the trust variable from the predictor set, perceived interactional justice qualifies instead. For the explanation of positive commitments, the same pattern of prediction can be found. When predicting the willingness for continued commitment to damage the organization, similar predictors, however with opposite weights, qualify: The more injustice is perceived on various levels, the less trust is experienced, and the smaller the scope of action, the higher the willingness to damage the organization to get revenge. The emotions of revenge and resentment play an especially important role. The above findings are in line with various vignette studies. In these experimental studies, the various dimensions of organizational justice are varied (high versus low level) in a cover story of organizational context. For instance, respectful treatment interpreted as part of a fair process effect sensu Tyler and Caine (1981), might reduce feelings of resentment due to unjust distribution of salary (Dietrich, 2009). The main findings of various conducted questionnaire studies applying multiple research methods are as follows: • Job satisfaction as well as positive and negative commitments can all well be predicted by the same variable set – however with reversed prediction weights. • Traditional variables, standing in line with rational-choice models (such as pay satisfaction), as well as scope of action as an important criterion of the humanrelation movement can equally explain the emotive and behavioral criteria. • Moreover, justice perceptions and the realization of norm-oriented values, like trust in supervisor or promotion of personal development, have a strong and stable impact on work-related outcomes. The promotion of personal development affects a motive located on the highest level of Maslow’s model of need satisfaction (Maslow, 1943), namely self-actualization and realization.

Organizational Justice


Respectful treatment, on the other hand, mediates appreciation, which affects motives that are at least located on the second highest level of Maslow’s model. • The dimensions of distributive, procedural, and interactional justice are related but distinguishable dimensions of the organizational justice construct. This is reflected by factor analyses but especially in different patterns predicting job satisfaction and various commitments. The three dimensions seem to explain different parts of the criterion variance, although all of them have a positive impact on well-being and behavioral commitments. • In comparison to the other dimensions of organizational justice, interactional justice has the strongest impact on different outcomes. In line with this, trust in supervisor is regarded as an important value that increases positive feelings and commitments towards work. For the development of trust, not only professional but also social skills are important. Trust and interactional justice are highly intercorrelated but contribute independently to the explanation of variance in job satisfaction and commitment. • The findings are cross-validated with varying samples, methodological approaches (including vignette studies), and in different organizational settings. Consequently, they are not limited to companies, but can be generalized to nonprofit organizations, administrations, and schools. The first transculturally gathered data from Korea speak for the generalized validity of the empirical statements. In sum, the so-called traditional variables, judgments of justice and other normoriented values contribute to the satisfaction and positive commitments of members in organizations. They simultaneously seem to buffer behavioral tendencies harming the organizations. Fair social interaction, trust in the fairness and decency of the supervisor are of special relevance for employees to feel at ease and for their willingness to engage for the organization (cf. Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001). Social conflicts seem to be reduced when a quest for just treatment and distribution is experienced (cf. Montada, 2008).

Restoring Perceived Justice The findings above show that the experience of justice on various levels and in different situations is important for the psychological well-being of individuals and commitments, and also for economical reasons, as the previously reported findings reflect. The crucial question is: If injustices are perceived in organizations, how will the experience of justice be able to be restored? (cf. Deutsch, 2000; Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001; Montada, 2008; Tyler & Blader, 2000). The justice conflicts discussed above are not based on the objective injury of judicial rights or claims but on the injury of justice principles leading to feelings, or cognitions of injustice, respectively. The cognitions need not be reflected thoughts; merely the intuitive feeling or thought “that something is going wrong and unfair”


E. Kals and P. Jiranek

can be conceptually included as a form of perceived injustice. For a sustainable solution of justice conflicts, these subjective feelings and judgments need to be taken seriously and reflected thoroughly. Which justice norm is disguised by the argument? Which justice criterion is applied to the situation? Which alternative criteria could be applicable? How should the different criteria be relatively weighted? Who should decide on these questions and on which base? Perceived injustice is based on violated norms and personal claims. It is essential to justify these claims for avoiding arbitrariness of justice arguments. This leads to the argumentative function of justice judgments bearing the highest conflict-evoking potential (Bierbrauer & Klinger, 2001; Deutsch, 2000; Mikula & Wenzel, 2000): making use of the argument “That’s unfair”, has a big normative and moral impact. During the discourse it will become evident to the conflict partner himself but also to the other people involved in the process of restoring justice whether the reasoning is based on justice evaluations, perhaps balancing various justice criteria against one another, or if it is only intended to cover self-interest (cf. M€uller, Kals, & Maes, 2008). The disguise of self-interest by justice arguments can take many forms. For example, instead of speaking plainly that a certain remuneration system is preferred as it encompasses a betterment of oneself and one’s in-group, convenient justice principles, like for instance the seniority or the merit principle are put forth as fair distribution principles. In this case, the core intention is not to establish justice, but to rhetorically apply justice arguments or in other words reducing justice to a strategic presentation technique. The moral and manipulative potential of justice argumentation can be used strategically (cf. Bierbrauer & Klinger, 2001; Mikula & Wenzel, 2000), but opposed to this, there is evidence of a justice motive for restoring justice independently of one’s own benefit and interest as well (cf. Kals, 1999; Lerner, 2003; Montada, 1998; M€ uller & Kals, 2007): employees do not only line their own pockets, but also struggle for justice without a hidden agenda. In organizations, people engage for the rights of others if they have the impression that colleagues are treated unjustly, even if they do not directly benefit from their engagement, etc. (cf. K€archer, 2008; Kals, Maes, & Becker, 2001). Nevertheless, when taking a rational choice perspective, it can be argued that there is always a hidden agenda behind pro-social behavior to restore justice; for instance, when engaging in discourse on behalf of colleagues to restore justice, when hoping for their loyalty when oneself is in trouble, in order to demonstrate superiority, power, or control, when aiming to speak and stand up against the common leader, in order to avoid future unjust treatment of the supervisor against oneself, or to raise one’s self-esteem. Empirical proof for these assumptions, however, is scarce. Miller and Ratner (1996), therefore, brought up “The myth of self-interest”, which is promoted by rational-choice theory (cf. Abell, 1992; Coleman & Fararo, 1992). Altogether, it is neither theoretically fruitful to trace all human behavior back to an underlying self-interest nor helpful for empathic understanding of the conflict partner’s views. Instead, it should be assumed that behavioral decisions are based on multiple motives promoting hypothetical thinking in alternatives.

Organizational Justice


Integrating Rogers’ Conditions and Organizational Justice Theory in the Process of Mediation For practical use, the analysis of emotions is the silver bullet for the understanding and resolution of justice conflicts: If norms of justice are violated, feelings of resentment and other moral emotions are likely to occur (cf. Montada, 1998). Therefore, the analysis of emotions involved is a good indicator for the virulence of conflict. Moreover, the discourse on justice and involved emotions can contribute to perceived procedural fairness in resolving the conflict. There is extensive literature on the “fair process effect”, reflecting its importance and reaching far beyond its original investigation solely in the judicial context (e.g., Tyler, 1991; Tyler, Boeckmann, Smith, & Huo, 1997; van den Bos, Lind, Vermunt, & Wilke, 1997): according to this effect, parties are more readily willing to accept an unfavorable decision if this decision was reached in a procedure perceived as just. In organizational practice, it seems less risky to let discourses on justice conflicts take place in formalized contracts or settings, respectively. Psychological mediation constitutes a formalized contractual form to resolve justice conflicts efficiently and profoundly (Kals & Ittner, 2008; Montada & Kals, 2007). The conditions of fair procedures, established by Leventhal (1980), are implemented in this approach. For this purpose, the conflicting parties reveal reasons, beliefs, needs, concerns, and motives behind the positions taken, thus elaborating the structure of conflict under the guidance of mediators. This goes far beyond the Harvard Concept (Fisher & Ury, 1991), which stresses benefit optimization and rather neglects the restoration of justice. During the mediation process, the complexity of the conflict often becomes clear. For instance, a conflict may arise although the conflicting parties prefer the very same justice principle (e.g., the merit principle). Even at this point it is to be discussed who contributed which effort and how the different dimensions of effort are to be weighted. Therefore, it appears advisable to conduct a discourse on the complexity of justice. Eventually, based on this course of action, a win-winsolution is to be targeted. Beside distributive justice, elements of procedural as well as interactional justice are considered in a psychologically founded mediation: the mediator guarantees equality of opportunity. This implies that all parties involved in the process have equal knowledge and access to the information needed, which is fundamental to the concept of procedural justice. Since conflict is not only relevant and present on a contextual but on a relational level as well, the adherence to interactional justice in the sense of respectful mutual treatment is indispensable. We argue that it is only in this way that the relationship can be improved in the medium and long term. Altogether, the mediator is to be thought of as an escort in the thicket of conflict, applying, among others, the theoretical dimensions of organizational justice as tools. Thus, during the process of mediation, the mediator broaches the issue of


E. Kals and P. Jiranek

allocation, a meta-process view, and the interpersonal decency in procedural conduct. Taking a high-level perspective, establishing mediation techniques in organizations cannot only contribute to fair procedures, but to an innovative and constructive culture of conflict in the long run. The above-mentioned negative effects of considering justice as a means (cf. Tyler et al., 1997) by disguising self-interest behind a curtain of pseudo-justice arguments constitutes not only a problem with regard to theoretical fruitfulness, but also for the process of mediation itself. Individuals are usually sensitive as to whether their interactive partners really aim at a fair solution and fair treatment or whether they are applying manipulative strategies. An adequate remedy against such attempts of deception is for the mediator to apply Rogers’ construct of genuineness, based on the theories of humanistic psychology (cf. Rogers, 1972). Rogers identified various conditions which are essential to produce personality changes in clients. Three conditions are regarded as key-concepts applied to the counseling situation outside client-therapist relationships, as it is the case in mediation. These are genuineness (the mediator is truly himself or herself and effortlessly incorporates some self-disclosure), the mediator’s unconditional positive regard for the participants, and empathic understanding. Applying these key constructs to the interaction implies that rules of fair communication are intended and realized, such as: hearing a person out without interrupting, trying to understand the other person by listening actively, avoiding to offend the conflict partner and to apply upper-hand strategies, etc. This promotes the theoretical concept of interactive justice practically and facilitates the successful search for conflict solution, even outside formal mediation processes.

Outlook In this contribution, we do not argue that a brave new organizational world is to be established by the application of integrated justice theory but intend to stress the implications of justice theories on organizational conflict culture. Justice conflicts in organizations cause apparent negative effects: the consumption of time and energy, the possible loss of motivation and performance, numerous potential psychosocial burdens, etc. (Greenberg & Colquitt, 2005; Nerdinger, 2007). Nevertheless, the productive as well as constructive handling of conflict offers various opportunities on an individual, social, and organizational level (cf. Montada & Kals, 2007): On the individual level, beside discourse ability, self-knowledge might be enhanced through improved perspective-taking and due to insights into the psychology of justice. It is possible to personally grow with the process of conflict, to support individual development opportunities and to eventually improve the adaptability of organizational members without decreasing their autonomy as individuals. Thus, on a social level, resolved conflict situations bear the potential of intensifying individual interrelations and stabilizing them in the long run. This might be due to the fact that common conflict resolution experience exists, exerting

Organizational Justice


a sense of empowerment as with regard to how future conflicts might be resolved constructively. In consequence, on the organizational level this might foster an improved conflict culture, which in turn will positively affect the overall work climate. Since questions of organizational justice are complex and usually normatively exaggerated, it seems advisable to rather keep them out of the context of conflict at first glance. Especially in commercial enterprises they seem misplaced. However, ignoring subjectively perceived unfairness can impede a sustainable solution of conflict (cf. Barsky & Kaplan, 2007). Also in commercial enterprises, justicerelevant and potentially conflict-ridden decisions are made (cf. Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001). Hence, it makes sense to raise the awareness of supervisors concerning justice issues and acquaint them with the tool of psychological mediation, as it is common practice in US enterprises (Filner, 1998; Goldberg, Sander, & Rogers, 1999). Eventually, this will be beneficial for work-related outcomes like job satisfaction and commitment, as shown by the empirical data reported above. With regard to academia and science, theories should be further developed, research expanded by promoting single-case studies and by exploring – beside vignette studies – conflict-ridden situations in the field (M€uller et al., 2008). Testing the predictive impact on additional criterion variables in the German cultural background (e.g., organizational citizenship behavior), conducting further motive analyses, and investigating the effect of strategic justice argumentation are further scientific paths to be followed. By sketching different empirical findings, the potential of organizational justice as a variable of considerable relevance with regard to important organizational outcomes has been depicted in this contribution. The current world economic crisis has raised many different justice questions not only in organizations but in society as well. If questions of fairness, which appear important to citizens and employees, remain unanswered, the potential of latent and overt social as well as organizational conflict rises. This problem can only be solved if justice perceptions are understood soundly and comprehensively. Thus, justice perceptions need to be addressed on a theoretical as well as practical level, no matter whether an economic crisis is prevalent or not.

References Abell, P. (1992). Is rational choice theory a rational choice of theory? In J. S. Coleman & T. J. Fararo (Eds.), Rational choice theory: Advocacy and critique (pp. 183–206). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Ambrose, M. L., & Schminke, M. (2003). Organization structure as a moderator of the relationship between procedural justice, interactional justice, perceived organizational support, and supervisory trust. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(2), 295–305. Aquino, K., Tripp, T. M., & Bies, R. J. (2001). How employees respond to personal offense: The effects of blame attribution, victim status, and offender status on revenge and reconciliation in the workplace. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(1), 52–59.


E. Kals and P. Jiranek

Aryee, S., Budhwar, P. S., & Chen, Z.-X. (2002). Trust as a mediator of the relationship between organizational justice and work outcomes: Test of a social exchange model. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23(3), 267–286. Barsky, A., & Kaplan, S. A. (2007). If you feel bad, it’s unfair: A quantitative synthesis of affect and organizational justice perceptions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(1), 286–295. Bierbrauer, G., & Klinger, E. W. (2001). Akzeptanz von Entscheidungen durch faire Verfahren [Fair proceedings help to gain acceptance of decisions]. In J. Haft, H. Hof, & S. Wesche (Eds.), Bausteine zu einer Verhaltenstheorie des Rechts (pp. 349–360). Baden-Baden: Nomos. Bierhoff, H.-W. (1992). Prozedurale Gerechtigkeit: Das Wie und Warum der Fairneß [Procedural justice: The how and why of fairness]. Zeitschrift f€ ur Sozialpsychologie, 23, 163–178. Bies, R. J. (2001). Interactional (in)justice: The sacred and the profane. In J. Greenberg & R. Cropanzano (Eds.), Advances in organizational justice (pp. 85–108). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Bies, R. J., & Tripp, T. M. (2005). The study of revenge in the workplace: Conceptual, ideological and empirical issues. In S. Fox & P. E. Spector (Eds.), Counterproductive work behaviour: Investigations of actors and targets. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association (APA). Bobocel, D. R., & Holmvall, C. M. (2001). Are interactional justice and procedural justice different? Framing the debate. In S. Gilliland, D. Steiner, & D. Skarlicki (Eds.), Theoretical and cultural perspectives on organizational justice (pp. 85–108). Greenwich, CT: Information Age. Callaway, P. L. (2007). The relationship between organizational trust and job satisfaction. Boca Raton, FL: Dissertation.com. Chiaburu, D. S. (2007). From interactional justice to citizenship behaviors: Role enlargement or role discretion? Social Justice Research, 20(2), 207–305. Cohen-Carash, Y., & Spector, P. E. (2001). The role of justice in organizations: A meta-analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 86(2), 278–321. Coleman, J. S., & Fararo, T. J. (Eds.). (1992). Rational choice theory: Advocacy and critique. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Colquitt, J. A. (2001). On the dimensionality of organizational justice: A construct validation of a measure. Journal of Applied Psychology, 80(3), 386–400. Colquitt, J. A., Conlon, D. E., Wesson, M. J., Porter, C. O. L. H., & Ng, K. Y. (2001). Justice at the millennium: A meta-analytic review of 25 years of organizational justice research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(3), 425–445. Colquitt, J. A., Greenberg, G., & Zapata-Phelan, C. P. (2005). What is organizational justice? A historical overview. In J. Greenberg & J. A. Colquitt (Eds.), Handbook of Organizational Justice (pp. 3–55). Mahwah, NY: Erlbaum. Deutsch, M. (2000). Justice and conflict. In M. Deutsch & P. T. Coleman (Eds.), The handbook of conflict resolution: Theory and practice (pp. 41–64). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Dietrich, M. (2009, October). How does experienced justice influence trust, incriminatory emotions and thoughts of revenge? – An experimental vignette study. Poster presented at the symposium ‘The potential of justice research for conflict resolution and the understanding of societal problems’, Eichst€att, Germany. Disselkamp, M. (2004). Kostenersparnis durch faire Verhandlungsf€uhrung und Mediation [A fair conduct of negotiations and mediation help to save costs]. In M. Disselkamp, E. Eyer, S. Rohde, & E.-M. Stoppkotte (Eds.), Wirtschaftsmediation: Verhandeln in Konflikten (pp. 171–202). Frankfurt a. M., Germany: Bund. Filner, B. (1998). Using mediation to resolve business conflicts. In G. Falk, P. Heintel, & C. Pelikan (Eds.), Die Welt der Mediation: Entwicklung und Anwendungsgebiete eines interdisziplin€ aren Konfliktregelungsverfahrens (pp. 244–252). Klagenfurt: Alekto. Fischer, R., Smith, P. B., Richey, B., Ferreira, M. C., Assmar, E. M. L., Maes, J., et al. (2007). How do organizations allocate rewards? The predictive validity of national values, economic and organizational factors across six nations. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 38(1), 3–18.

Organizational Justice


Fisher, R., & Ury, W. (1991). Getting to yes: Das Harvard-Konzept [Getting to yes: The Harvard concept]. Frankfurt: Campus. Folger, R., Sheppard, B. H., & Buttram, R. T. (1995). Equity, equality, and need: Three faces of social justice. In B. B. Bunker & J. Z. Rubin (Eds.), Conflict, cooperation, and justice: Essays inspired by the work of Morton Deutsch (pp. 261–289). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Goldberg, S. B., Sander, F. E. A., & Rogers, N. H. (1999). Dispute resolution: Negotiation, mediation and other processes (3rd ed.). New York: Aspen. Greenberg, J. (1987). Reactions to procedural injustice in payment distributions: Do the means justify the ends? Journal of Applied Psychology, 72(1), 55–61. Greenberg, J. (1990). Employee theft as a reaction to underpayment inequity: The hidden cost of pay cuts. Journal of Applied Psychology, 75(5), 561–568. Greenberg, J. (1993). The social side of fairness: Interpersonal and informational classes of organizational justice. In R. Cropanzano (Ed.), Justice in the workplace: Approaching fairness in human resource management (pp. 79–103). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Greenberg, J., & Colquitt, J. A. (2005). Handbook of organizational justice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Greenberg, J., & Cropanzano, R. (Eds.). (2001). Advances in organizational justice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Gruys, M. L., & Sackett, P. R. (2003). Investigating the dimensionality of counterproductive work behaviour. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 11(1), 30–42. Herzberg, F., Mausner, B. M., & Snyderman, B. (1959). The motivation to work. New York: Wiley. Hoffman, B. J., Blair, C. A., Meriac, J. P., & Woehr, D. J. (2007). Expanding the criterion domain? A quantitative review of the OCB literature. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 555–566. Jiranek, P. (2009, October). Which domain of organizational justice predicts job satisfaction and other important organizational outcomes best. Poster presented at the symposium ‘The potential of justice research for conflict resolution and the understanding of societal problems’, Eichst€att, Germany. Kals, E. (1999). Der Mensch nur ein zweckrationaler Entscheider? [Is the human deciding purpose-rationally only?]. Zeitschrift f€ ur Politische Psychologie, 7(4), 267–293. Kals, E., & Gallenm€uller-Roschmann, J. (2011). Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie – Workbook [Organizational psychology – A workbook] (2nd ed.). Weinheim: Beltz. Kals, E., & Ittner, H. (2008). Wirtschaftsmediation [Business mediation]. G€ottingen: Hogrefe. Kals, E., Maes, J., & Becker, R. (2001). The overestimated impact of self-interest and the underestimated impact of justice motives. Trames. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 55(3), 269–287. K€archer, J. (2008). Verteilungsgerechtigkeiten und Eigeninteressen im deutschen Gesundheitswesen – eine psychologische Untersuchung [Distributive justice and self-interest of the German health system – A psychological study]. Saarbr€ ucken: VDM. Lazarus, R. S. (1984). On the primacy of cognition. American Psychologist, 39(2), 124–129. Lee, N.-O., Moon, Y.-G., Kals, E., & Jiranek, P. (2009, October). Organizational justice in the Korean school system: A cross-cultural comparison. Poster presented at the symposium ‘The potential of justice research for conflict resolution and the understanding of societal problems’, Eichst€att, Germany. Lerner, M. J. (2003). The justice motive: Where social psychologists found it, how they lost it, and why they may not find it again. Personality & Social Psychology Review, 7(4), 388–399. Leventhal, G. S. (1976). The distribution of rewards and resources in groups and organizations. In L. Berkowitz & W. Walster (Eds.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 9, pp. 91–131). New York: Academic. Leventhal, G. S. (1980). What should be done with equity theory? New approaches to the study of fairness in social relationships. In K. J. Gergen, M. S. Greenbers, & R. H. Willis (Eds.), Social exchange: Advances in theory and research (pp. 27–53). New York: Plenum.


E. Kals and P. Jiranek

Leventhal, G. S., Karuza, J., & Fry, W. R. (1980). Es geht nicht nur um Fairness: Eine Theorie der Verteilungspr€aferenzen [It is not about fairness: Theory about distributive preferences]. In G. Mikula (Ed.), Gerechtigkeit und soziale Interaktion (pp. 185–250). Bern: Huber. Lewicki, R. J., Wiethoff, C., & Tomlinson, E. C. (2005). What is the role of trust in organizational justice? In J. Colquitt & J. Greenberg (Eds.), Handbook of organizational justice (pp. 247–270). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. € Liebig, S. (2002). Gerechtigkeit in Organisationen: Theoretische Uberlegungen und empirische Ergebnisse zu einer Theorie korporativer Gerechtigkeit [Justice in organizations. A theory of corporative justice based on theoretical considerations and empirical results]. K€ olner Zeitschrift f€ ur Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 42, 151–187. Lind, E. A., & Tyler, T. R. (1988). The social psychology of procedural justice. New York: Plenum Press. Maes, J., & Schmitt, M. (2004). Gerechtigkeit und Gerechtigkeitspsychologie [Justice and the psychology of justice]. In G. Sommer & A. Fuchs (Eds.), Krieg und Frieden: Handbuch der Konflikt- und Friedenspsychologie (pp. 182–194). Weinheim: Beltz. Maier, G. W., Streicher, B., Jonas, E., & Frey, D. (2007). Bed€urfnisse nach organisationaler Gerechtigkeit und Bereitschaft zu innovativem Handeln [The need for organizational justice and readiness for innovative acting]. Wirtschaftspsychologie, 9(2), 43–54. Marcus, B., & Schuler, H. (2004). Antecendents of counterproductive behavior at work: A general perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 647–660. Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370–396. Mikula, G., & Wenzel, M. (2000). Justice and social conflicts. International Journal of Psychology, 35(2), 126–135. Miller, D. T., & Ratner, R. K. (1996). The power of the myth of self-interest. In L. Montada & M. J. Lerner (Eds.), Current societal concerns about justice (pp. 25–48). New York: Plenum Press. Montada, L. (1989). Bildung der Gef€ uhle? [Education of emotions?]. Zeitschrift f€ ur P€ adagogik, 35, 293–311. Montada, L. (1998). Justice: Just a rational choice? Social Justice Research, 12, 81–101. Montada, L. (2008). Empirische Gerechtigkeitsforschung [Empirical research in justice]. In S. Gosepath, W. Hinsch, & B. R€ ossler (Eds.), Handbuch der Politischen Philosophie und Sozialphilosophie (Vol. 1, pp. 411–516). Berlin: De Gruyter. Montada, L., & Kals, E. (2007). Mediation: Ein Lehrbuch auf psychologischer Grundlage [Mediation. A textbook based on psychology] (2nd ed.). Weinheim: Beltz. Montada, L., Kals, E., & Becker, R. (2007). Willingness for continued social commitment: A new concept in environmental research. Environment & Behavior, 39(3), 287–316. M€ uller, G. F. (2006). Faire Entscheidungsverfahren – Vertrauensgrundlage in Organisationen [Fair decision procedures – Basics of trust in organizations]. In K. Goetz (Ed.), Vertrauen in Organisationen (pp. 155–168). M€ unchen: Hampp. M€ uller, M. M., K€archer, J., & Kals, E. (submitted). Deutschsprachiges Messinstrument zur Organisationalen Gerechtigkeit. [Measuring tool for organizational justice in German]. M€uller, M. M., & Kals, E. (2007). Interactions between procedural fairness and outcome favorability in conflict situations. In K. Y. T€ ornblom & R. Vermunt (Eds.), Distributive and procedural justice (pp. 125–140). Aldershot: Ashgate. M€ uller, M. M., Kals, E., & Maes, J. (2008). Fairness, self-interest, and cooperation in a real-life conflict. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38(3), 684–704. Murphy, K. R. (1993). Honesty in the workplace. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks. Nerdinger, F. W. (2000). Extra-Rollenverhalten [Extra behavioral role]. Gruppendynmaik und Organisationsberatung, 31(2), 155–167. Nerdinger, F. W. (2007). Wenn Ungerechtigkeit teuer wird – kontraproduktives Verhalten im Unternehmen [When injustice gets expensive – Counterproductive behavior in companies]. Organisations Entwicklung, 26(1), 32–35. Nowakowski, J. M., & Conlon, D. E. (2005). Organizational justice: Looking back, looking forward. International Journal of Conflict Management, 16(1), 4–29.

Organizational Justice


Porter, L. W., & Lawler, E. E. (1968). What job attitudes can tell us about employee motivation. Harvard Business Review, 46(1), 118–126. Reis, H. T. (1984). The multidimensionality of justice. In R. Folger (Ed.), The sense of injustice: Social psychological perspectives (pp. 25–61). New York: Plenum Press. Rogers, C. R. (1972). Die klientenzentrierte Psychotherapie [Client-centered psychotherapy]. M€unchen: Kindler. Skitka, L. J., & Crosby, F. J. (2003). Trends in the social psychological study of justice. Personality & Social Psychology Review, 7(4), 282–285. Spector, P. E. (1997). Job satisfaction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Staufenbiel, T., & Hartz, C. (2000). Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Entwicklung und erste Validierung eines Messinstruments [Organization cituzenship behavior: Development and first validation of a measuring tool]. Diagnostica, 46(2), 73–83. Streicher, B., Jonas, E., Maier, G. W., Wosche´e, R., & Waßmer, B. (2008). Test of the construct and criteria validity of a German measure of organizational justice. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 24(2), 131–139. Thibaut, J., & Walker, L. (1975). Procedural justice: A psychological analysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. T€ ornblom, K. Y., & Vermunt, R. (Eds.). (2007). Distributive and procedural justice. Aldershot: Ashgate. Tyler, T. R. (1991). Why people obey the law. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Tyler, T. R., & Blader, S. L. (2000). Cooperation in groups: Procedural justice, social identity, and behavioral engagement. Philadelphia: Taylor & Francis. Tyler, T. R., Boeckmann, R. J., Smith, H. J., & Huo, Y. J. (1997). Social justice in diverse society. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Tyler, T. R., & Caine, A. (1981). The influence of outcomes and procedures on satisfaction with formal leaders. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 642–655. Van den Bos, K., Lind, E. A., Vermunt, R., & Wilke, H. A. M. (1997). How do I judge my outcome when I do not know the outcome of others? The psychology of the fair process effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(5), 1034–1046. Vroom, V. H. (1964). Work and motivation. New York: John Wiley.


Ecological Justice


Justice as a Framework for the Solution of Environmental Conflicts Markus M. M€ uller

Abstract Debates in environmental conflicts are very often considered as driven by self-interests of the stakeholders and activist groups involved. While they do actually play an important role, there is little convergence as to what can be understood as a self-interests. Moreover, their importance for motivating behavior in the course of conflict resolution is largely over-estimated by respondents. It is argued that behavior in ecological conflicts is driven by feelings of justice and injustice. Those feelings can differ largely depending on individual scopes of justice, values, needs, and feelings of attachment to nature and the environment. Research from justice psychology provides important insights in how these differences in justice perceptions occur and how they influence behavioral decisions and commitment. A justice framework is proposed as a tool to analyze and solve ecological conflicts.

Introduction This chapter explores the potential of justice research to understand the driving forces behind behavior in environmental conflicts, and to come to sustainable settlements. The study of environmental conflict is necessary and interesting for two reasons. First, environmental problems are among the most urgent und vital in modern societies and therefore psychology as a discipline is responsible for providing insights and ideas for the peaceful solution of these problems. And second, the study of environmental conflicts can also be fruitful for our understanding of other kinds of social conflicts. A closer look at different types of environmental conflicts shows that experiences of justice and injustice very often guide the appraisals, feelings, and behavior of the parties involved.

M.M. M€uller (*) Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Catholic University Eichst€att-Ingolstadt, Eichst€att, Germany e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_14, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



M.M. M€uller

Studying Environmental Conflicts Environmental conflicts are conflicts that involve the natural environment; and the roles that nature or the environment play in these conflicts can be manifold. Two main types can be distinguished: First, conflicts about the use and allocation of natural resources. In this case, parties claim their rights to have a share in the distribution of water, air, land, or many others kinds of natural resources. Typically, these resources are scarce, and conflicts arise because parties feel that they do not get what they need or deserve, while others might unjustly overuse the resource. This type of conflict can best be referred to as resource conflict. Second, an environmental conflict can be a social conflict involving many different kinds of concerns and interests, among them the rights of nature or natural habitats. This is often the case in communal conflicts about infrastructure projects, for example. All those conflicts have two special aspects in common that make their study interesting for psychologists and social scientists. 1. Environmental conflicts are complex conflicts. The study and theory of social conflicts has led to many important insights (for an overview, see Deutsch & Coleman, 2000). However, the literature has mostly focused on small-scale conflicts between not more than two parties. In environmental conflicts, there are usually many parties involved: interest groups, stakeholders, industry, political parties, environmental activists, and many more. But even beyond that, environmental conflicts are not only social conflicts, since they involve the natural environment as well. In classical approaches, the role of nature was largely reduced to what is called “externalized costs.” Although this approach is still widely used, it does not represent the multitude of ways in which persons frame their relationship with nature and the environment. At the other end of the continuum, we find value orientations that include nature within the moral community, and allow the same rights to nature as to humans. Environmental value orientations can take many forms in between these positions (Dutcher, Finley, Luloff, & Johnson, 2007; Stern & Dietz, 1994; Stern, Dietz, & Kalof, 1993). In the case of environmental conflicts, we therefore often find diverging positions concerning the rights and roles of nature. 2. Environmental conflicts are local and global simultaneously. It is evident and it might seem trivial that any conflict – also between two persons – is embedded in larger systems. Take, for example, a conflict between two employees who are in competition about who should direct a new project. This conflict can be considered as having two parties, but it is also embedded within the organization and its culture of rewards, and in the value system of society. But while, in small-scale social conflicts, the influence of larger systems is very often considered as a background, environmental conflicts can not be understood without taking processes on a larger scale into account. Debates about traffic planning are a good example. For example, in Germany with its high density of population, many small towns are confronted with a large amount of traffic going through the middle of the town. This, of course, causes problems of health and safety for

Justice as a Framework for the Solution of Environmental Conflicts


the inhabitants, threatening the quality of life in the neighborhood and leading to protests by members of the local community. However, building new roads that lead around the town will create new problems, since very often this implies destroying forests or other natural environments which themselves serve the community for recreation or that ensure good air quality in the town. And, moreover, mostly the causes of the conflicts can not be found in the community itself, but rather in political decisions and societal and global economic developments. When looking at the many concerns and many levels involved in environmental conflicts, it seems clear that a conception of social conflicts which focuses on the self-interests of the few parties involved is too narrow and might not be successful in helping find sustainable solutions (M€ uller, 2003). However, the social conflict literature often focuses on these small-scale conflicts. Given that environmental conflicts are structurally complex and involve multiple levels of concerns and influences, a simple extrapolation of findings from small-scale conflict research seems inappropriate. Even more, studying these complex conflicts can inform our models of social conflicts in other fields, too, since this helps us look behind the simple conception of conflicts of interests and consider motives of justice and morality.

Justice and the Environment Environmental psychology has developed several models that aim at understanding and explaining why people engage in pro-environmental action or in behaviors that are harmful to the natural environment. Either models have been adapted from more general models of behavior (e.g., theory of reasoned action, Ajzen, 1991, or normactivation theory, Schwartz, 1977; Schwartz & Howard, 1981), or the authors have made an attempt to integrate variables that directly address issues relevant to the environment, like Stern’s and colleagues’ value-belief norm theory (Stern, 2000; Stern & Dietz, 1994), who included ideas of the psychology of environmentalism like the new ecological paradigm (Dunlap, Van Liere, Mertig, & Jones, 2000; Dunlap & Van Liere, 1978) or value orientations toward the environment (Stern, Dietz, & Guagnano, 1998). Although these models rarely make explicit reference to environmental conflicts, they can shed light on the motives and conditions that are important for an understanding of the field (see Clayton & Myers, 2009; Steg & Vlek, 2009, for an overview). A model of environment-related action that directly included concepts of justice has been proposed by Montada and Kals (2000) (cf. Fig. 1). The model uses the concept of willingness for continued commitment to understand and explain manifest pro-environmental action, showing that the long-term behavioral changes that are involved in pro-environmental action can not be based on simple social incentives, but are a matter of commitments to goals. The goals


M.M. M€uller

Risk appraisals: personal/general

Contextual conditions: - facilities/costs - social consent

Attributions of responsibility Appraisals of basic rights Appraisals of justice: - distribution of profits/harms - justice of policies

Willingness for continued commitments

Manifest action

Fig. 1 A model of pro-environmental commitments (Adapted from Montada & Kals, 2000)

themselves are explained by a class of moral judgments: appraisals of risks, attributions of responsibility, an acceptance of basic rights, as well as appraisals of justice. Two types of justice appraisals are distinguished. On the one hand, the authors argue, people evaluate the justice of environmental distributions, of the distribution of profits from polluting activities and the exploitation of nature, and of the distribution of harms and risks caused by pollution. On the other hand, people also have feelings of justice and injustice concerning policy measures to reduce pollution or the exploitation of nature. For example, appeals to reduce polluting activities are often considered as unjust because there is a high probability of free-riding. These feelings of injustice lead to very low commitment and therefore very low efficiency of this kind of policy (Kals & Russell, 2001; Montada & Kals, 1995). It is important to note that both types of appraisals are clearly understood as appraisals of justice as opposed to the appraisal of the efficiency of policy measures or the personal benefit from distributions of profits and harms. Several studies have shown that these feelings of justice or injustice can be powerful predictors and motivators, but also strong barriers to pro-environmental commitments and the acceptance of pro-environmental policies (see Kals & Russell, 2001; Montada & Kals, 2000). These ideas are also crucial to the understanding of environmental conflicts, because feelings of injustice can not only lead to the non-endorsement of proenvironmental action. Rather, moral outrage caused by unjust policies or measures, for examples, is one of the driving forces in social protest behavior and of social conflicts (Montada, this book). Conflicts about natural resources or about issues that involve the natural environment are nourished by feelings of unjustified norm violations, unjust distributions, unjust policies or unfair procedures and treatment (Kals, Syme, K€archer, M€ uller, & Nancarrow, 2004–2005). In order to clarify how justice and injustice can lead to conflict, but also to its settlement, I will take a closer look at research in the field of environmental conflicts and the psychology of justice.

Justice as a Framework for the Solution of Environmental Conflicts


Justice and Environmental Conflicts Based on the reflections so far, this chapter will give an overview of our research on the role of justice in environmental conflicts and for environmentally related commitments and behavior. The main idea behind this research is that justice appraisals are distinct and can not be subsumed under other concepts such as values or self-interests. Nonetheless, justice appraisals can interact with other motives in conflict situations, as will be shown in the following paragraphs. To understand the complexity of social motivations and their interplay seems to be one of the most important tasks in research on environmental and other kinds of social conflicts. The practical implications will be discussed at the end of the chapter.

Justice at the Micro Level: Local Conflicts As explained in the introduction, local conflicts about environmental issues carry with them a multitude of interests and motives. Many models of conflict resolution suggest that the underlying motive of people involved in conflicts is to fulfill their personal interests. On the other hand, justice research has shown that, for example, people do care about the fairness of the procedures enacted. In many cases, a fair procedure might even be more important than a favorable outcome, as suggested by the body of research on the procedural justice effect (Van den Bos, 2005). One very fruitful line of research, therefore, is to study these motives in order to understand how they influence attitudes and behavior in the conflict and how they interact. In a series of studies on local environmental conflicts, self-interests and justice appraisals were studied precisely with this goal in mind. Local conflicts about infrastructure projects in communities are very good examples of environmental conflicts in the sense that building roads, power plants, promoting public transportation, etc. do involve many people in the community, will bring great benefits to some, but also disadvantages to others, while affecting the environment in a multitude of ways: A new bus lane through a local park or protected area could help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from individual car traffic while affecting the natural environment negatively. At the same time, these issues very often cause intense and emotional disputes in the community and can affect the political climate in a strong way. Peaceful settlements of these kinds of conflicts need the parties to be cooperative and to understand that good and sustainable solutions are those that respect the concerns of as many parties as possible. Uncompromising hardness that seeks to maximize personal self-interests at the expense of other parties’ interest is a strategy that is often used, but that can possibly result in non-optimal solutions (De Dreu & Carnevale, 2003). It is based on a win-lose orientation that assumes there is only a “fixed pie” to distribute, and the goal of negotiations is to compete for the “biggest piece of the cake”. In complex conflicts, however, the underlying concerns and


M.M. M€uller

interests of the parties involved are often compatible and there is enough room for win-win solutions for the benefit of everybody (Montada & Kals, 2007). Research in conflict settlement has shown that an orientation of conditional cooperation can be very successful in these kinds of disputes. Conditional cooperation – similar to tit-fortat rules in game theory (Axelrod, 1984) – is cooperative but also sensitive to the strategies employed by the other parties, and ready to use harder strategies in order not to be exploited. The literature often points to the fact that these strategies best fulfill personal self-interest in interdependent conflict situations. However, the data from research on a local planning conflict do not support these ideas. Rather, people cared very much about the fairness of the procedures (M€uller, Kals, & Maes, 2008). Do fair procedures lead to more cooperation and less uncompromising hardness? The literature on procedural justice is mostly based on the relationship between persons and authorities, and the cases studied are often finished and have a clear distribution of outcomes. Cooperative or uncooperative behaviors in real-life conflicts have rarely been studied. Therefore, the assumption “procedural fairness leads to cooperation” has to be tested for empirically. However, the data do not reveal this influence (M€ uller & Kals, 2007). If the procedures employed to settle the conflict are perceived as fair, then the parties are ready to be less uncompromising and hard – but only if they feel that they are disadvantaged by the planning process, which means that the outcomes that they expect by the new bus lane (or whatever is to be installed) seem unfavorable to them (cf. Fig. 2). This finding can be helpful for the practice of conflict settlement, since it shows that people actually do care about the fairness of procedures. It is in line with ideas of exchange or control theories of fairness, since it suggests that those who expect disadvantages feel that they will have an influence on the outcome if they are granted voice in the procedure of conflict resolution. However, there is another side to the findings shown in Fig. 2. Those who said that they will profit from the infrastructure project, which means that the expected outcome is favorable to them, will show even more uncompromising hardness if the procedures are perceived as fair. This finding seems to be the exact opposite of what should be expected from procedural justice research. How can this be explained, then? Very often in political issues, democratic participation, especially in largescale infrastructure projects, puts the planning at risk. Those who expect disadvantages are given a say, and might be influential on the outcome of the talks. This can possibly be a threat to those who actually are in favor of the project – out of self-interests, for example –, which might then result in their being uncompromising and hard in order to prevent themselves from “losing the game.”

The Role of Emotions Among the many important aspects of perceived justice in local environmental conflicts, one point deserves special emphasis: emotions. Current research has made clear that emotions play a pivotal role in moral judgment and are an important

Justice as a Framework for the Solution of Environmental Conflicts


Fig. 2 Interactions between procedural fairness and outcome favorability with hardness in negotiations as a criterion in an environmental conflict (Adapted from M€uller & Kals, 2007)

link between perceptions of fairness or unfairness and behavior (Haidt & Kezebir, 2010; Tangney, Stuewig, & Mashek, 2007). Especially unfairness is subjectively not only represented as a “cold” cognition, but typically involves strong feelings of anger, indignation, or moral outrage. Typically, people will easily be able to express their feelings following an injustice, while often not being able to give detailed descriptions of the justice principles involved. These ideas are especially important because for a long while, the role of emotions in moral judgments was underestimated. For the field of conflict research and settlement, this means that emotional responses to unfairness are not mere side-effects of perceived injustice, but that they do drive behavioral tendencies that might not be favorable for cooperative solutions unless they are addressed openly, for example in the course of a mediation that is sensitive to emotions (Montada & Kals, 2007). Strong feelings about unfair procedures – indignation about the violation of procedural justice, for example – are powerful predictors of uncompromising hardness in negotiations (M€uller et al., 2008), undermining attempts to find solutions for the benefit of everybody. Again, studying environmental conflicts in the field shows the relative importance of these emotions, while research in restrained laboratory settings runs the risk of overlooking the importance of feelings of injustice. There are, along with the trend to study emotions in moral reasoning, growing tendencies


M.M. M€uller

and creative developments of measures that include emotions in lab as well as field research. Emotions can be evoked by single events that are perceived as unjust, but they can also exist at a more general level as emotional attachment to nature (EAN), for example. This idea was first introduced into psychology by Kals, Schumacher, and Montada (1999) and has gained increasing attention by conservation psychologists in the past 10 years (Kals & M€ uller, in press). Emotional attachment to nature is an important link between environmental values and personal moral obligations to protect the environment, since it has close relationships to both biospheric values and altruistic values, but not to egoistic values (M€uller, Maier, & Kals, in press). EAN does explain considerable parts in the variance of personal norms and obligations, and behavioral commitments to protect the environment, demonstrating that moral motivations are not merely based on cognitions, but to a high extent on emotions, such as feelings of attachment to nature. The discussion of the role of emotions and values in the context on environmental conflicts and behavior turns the regard to more global issues. While local conflicts are very strongly influenced by a mix of motives such as justice and self-interest, in global conflicts feelings of responsibility and environmental values play an even stronger role. However, the basic distinction between maximization of interest on a micro level and a perspective of responsibility on a macro level are still valid here.

Justice at the Macro Level: Global Conflicts Although all environmental conflicts have global dimensions, there are conflicts that are inherently global because the parties directly involved come from different countries or continents. One of the most prominent global environmental issues is the case of global warming or global climate change. The environmental debate has been dominated by the issue of global warming, or global climate change, in recent years. Although the question whether or not there is a man-made change in global climate had been a matter of dispute for a long time, there is now a relative certainty that this change is happening (IPCC, 2007). A key societal issue in global environmental problems is that the behavior which is the cause of the problems, like the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere, brings benefits to some, while the negative consequences of these behaviors affect the global community and, very often, those who do not profit from that behavior (Ali, 2009). Thus, there is an unequal distribution of profits and harms, and this inequality may be judged as deserved and justified by some, or undeserved and not justified by others, a problem that can be described as an issue of distributive justice (Ittner & Montada, 2009). The disproportional distribution of profits and harms creates even stronger inequalities, as the societies which are mainly responsible for global warming, the industrialized nations, are much more capable of adapting to the negative consequences of climate change than the countries which contributed much less to climate change. At the

Justice as a Framework for the Solution of Environmental Conflicts


same time, the consequences for industrialized societies themselves are complex, too. If a country that is partly responsible for global warming is to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxides, then this can lead to negative outcomes for its economic welfare, a value which is often considered as a vested right that should be protected. People in highly industrialized countries often feel that their living standard is well-deserved and should therefore not be changed by measures intended to mitigate climate change. These inequalities and their very different perceptions make global conflicts about climate change an intrinsic issue of justice research. Despite the complexities of what is perceived as just, Clayton (1994, 1996, 2000) showed that there is a basic distinction that explains a large amount of variance in justice judgments in global conflicts: A local justice that focuses on the fairness of procedures and the interests of the local economy, and a global justice that considers the responsibility of those who caused environmental damage to act against it. This distinction was further validated in a study by M€uller and Hiendl (submitted), who could show that those who make local justice judgments are much less willing to engage in behaviors to mitigate climate change, especially if they involve high costs for the individual. Global justice judgments, on the other hand, are strong predictors of these high-cost commitments. A very important further line of research is to study the justice judgments of people in different societies – especially in developing countries – with different roles in the distribution of costs and benefits from behavior associated with climate change. Another perspective on justice issues in global conflicts is provided by the concept of scope of justice or moral inclusion. Originally developed by Deutsch (e.g., 1990), it was the works of Opotow (1994, 1996, this book) that introduced this idea into conservation psychology by showing that it really matters whether people include animals within their scope of justice to predict behavior to protect these animals. In a recent study, Baier (2010) has shown that the conception of animals as deserving justice can explain why some people feel very strong moral emotions, such as indignation, about the mistreatment of animals. And these emotions, in turn, are strongly related to behavior, like for example vegetarianism and political commitments to protect animals. Both the studies of local/global justice and moral inclusion show that a very central issue in global environmental conflicts is where people draw the line between who deserves fair treatment and who does not. This can refer to social moral in-groups and out-groups, but also to the distinction between human beings and the natural world.

Justice and the Settlement of Environmental Conflicts The aim of the present paper is to show that justice strongly shapes perceptions and actions in environmental conflicts. However, the ways justice is perceived by people involved in environmental conflicts are manifold, and one central goal of


M.M. M€uller

research should be to understand the differences in feelings of justice and injustice and how they influence the course of conflict settlement. As Montada (2007, this book) has outlined, the violation of subjective normative standards is at the core of social and environmental conflicts, and treating conflicts as mere conflicts of interest will run the risk of not getting to the point, of not asking the right questions and not addressing people’s concerns of fairness and justice. This does not mean that self-interests should not be an issue in mediation processes; but rather than reducing human motivation to selfish motives, we should be aware of the multitude of concerns and motives in social and environmental conflicts. As stated in the introduction, studying the complexity of environmental conflicts can be a fruitful way to inform our models of conflicts in general because, given the breadth of issues at stake, rather simple models of self-interests do not seem to work properly. By putting justice perceptions in the center of a framework for the solution of environmental conflicts, we certainly do not want to replace one simple model by another. Rather, the psychology of justice has taught us that justice perceptions can vary strongly between people, and this diversity sometimes seems to create huge barriers for mutual understanding and settlement. But instead of neglecting justice issues because they seem to be nonnegotiable, we argue that the democratic discourse about what people feel is right and just in conflicts carries in itself the potential for sustainable solutions (Montada & Kals, 2007). The psychology of environmental conflicts can also be greatly informed by ideas from applied social psychology, creating toolboxes for those trying to settle these conflicts. The ideas range from how to communicate in conflicts, for example how to frame the advantages and disadvantages related to possible solutions (M€uller & Kals, 2007), to the potential of nature to help create common identities between conflicting parties and thus reduce the potential for conflicts (Ali & M€uller, 2010). In addition to such short-time interventions, a development of values and attachment to nature (Clayton, 2003; Clayton & Opotow, 2003; M€uller, Kals, & Pansa, 2009) as distal predictors of pro-environmental action could help build a community that understands nature and the natural environment as part of their identity and thus could help prevent strong environmental conflicts. But how can different perceptions of justice be understood and addressed in hot social or environmental conflicts? It seems that emotions expressed by conflicting parties can lead the way to an understanding of what people value and which values and subjective norms are threatened. Research suggests that especially moral emotions are often triggered by automatic cognitive appraisals of what is right and wrong, and conflict mediators who are aware of the psychology of emotions can help trigger a discourse about these underlying, or unconscious, convictions, thus enabling all parties to understand each other’s differences in what they feel is just. One way to help bridge the gap between conflicting justice convictions is to install procedural fairness in conflict negotiations, while being aware of the potential negative effects on those who actually do not care about fairness because they feel that their personal interest could be threatened.

Justice as a Framework for the Solution of Environmental Conflicts


References Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179–211. Ali, S. H. (2009). Treasures of the earth: Need, greed, and a sustainable future. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Ali, S. H., & M€uller, M. M. (2010). Simulating environmental diplomacy. Policy Innovations, June 23, 2010. Retrieved June 30, 2010, from http://www.policyinnovations.org/ideas/ innovations/data/000168 Axelrod, R. (1984). The evolution of cooperation. New York: Basic Books. Baier, M. (2010). Moralische Inklusion, Tierethik und Verhalten [Moral inclusion, animal ethics, and behavior]. Unpublished thesis, Catholic University Eichst€att-Ingolstadt, Eichst€att, Germany. Clayton, S. (1994). Appeals to justice in the environmental debate. Journal of Social Issues, 50, 13–27. Clayton, S. (1996). What is fair in the environmental debate? In L. Montada & M. J. Lerner (Eds.), Current societal concerns about justice (pp. 195–211). New York, NY: Plenum Press. Clayton, S. (2000). Models of justice in the environmental debate. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 459–474. Clayton, S. (2003). Environmental identity: A conceptual and operational definition. In S. Clayton & S. Opotow (Eds.), Identity and the natural environment: The psychological significance of nature (pp. 45–66). Boston, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Clayton, S., & Myers, G. (2009). Conservation psychology: Understanding and promoting human care for nature. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. Clayton, S., & Opotow, S. (2003). Justice and identity: Changing perspectives on what is fair. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 7, 298–310. De Dreu, C. K. W., & Carnevale, P. J. (2003). Motivational bases of information processing and strategy in conflict and negotiation. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 35, pp. 235–291). San Diego, CA: Academic. Deutsch, M. (1990). Psychological roots of moral exclusion. Journal of Social Issues, 46, 21–25. Deutsch, M., & Coleman, P. T. (2000). The handbook of conflict resolution: Theory and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Dunlap, R. E., & Van Liere, K. D. (1978). The “new environmental paradigm”: A proposed measuring instrument and preliminary results. Journal of Environmental Education, 9, 10–19. Dunlap, R. E., Van Liere, K. D., Mertig, A. G., & Jones, R. E. (2000). Measuring endorsement of the new ecological paradigm: A revised NEP scale. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 425–442. Dutcher, T. S., Finley, J. C., Luloff, A. E., & Johnson, J. B. (2007). Connectivity with nature as a measure of environmental values. Environment and Behavior, 39, 474–493. Haidt, J., & Kezebir, S. (2010). Morality. In S. Fiske, D. Gilbert, & G. Ginzley (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (5th ed., pp. 797–832). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. IPCC. (2007). Climate change 2007: The physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Ittner, H., & Montada, L. (2009). Gerechtigkeit und Umweltpolitik [Justice and environmental politics]. Umweltpsychologie, 13, 35–51. Kals, E., & M€uller, M. M. (in press). Emotions and the environment. In S. Clayton (Ed.), Oxford handbook of environmental and conservation psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Kals, E., & Russell, Y. (2001). Individual conceptions of justice and their potential for explaining pro-environmental decision making. Social Justice Research, 14, 367–385. Kals, E., Schumacher, D., & Montada, L. (1999). Emotional affinity toward nature as a motivational basis to protect nature. Environment and Behavior, 31, 178–202.


M.M. M€uller

Kals, E., Syme, G. J., K€archer, J. D., M€ uller, M. M., & Nancarrow, B. E. (2004–2005). Community views of fairness in environmental conflicts: Evidence from Germany and Australia. Journal of Environmental Systems, 31, 117–140. Montada, L. (2007). Justice conflicts and the justice of conflict resolution. In K. T€ornblom & R. Vermunt (Eds.), Distributive and procedural justice (pp. 255–268). Aldershot, UK: Ashgate. Montada, L., & Kals, E. (1995). Perceived justice of ecological policy and pro-environmental commitments. Social Justice Research, 8, 305–327. Montada, L., & Kals, E. (2000). Political implications of psychological research on ecological justice and pro-environmental behaviors. International Journal of Psychology, 35, 168–176. Montada, L., & Kals, E. (2007). Mediation: Ein Lehrbuch auf psychologischer Grundlage [Mediation: A textbook based on psychology]. Weinheim, Germany: Beltz PVU. M€uller, M. M. (2003). Bedingungen der Konfliktl€ osung: Eine gerechtigkeitspsychologische Untersuchung am Beispiel eines lokalen Umweltkonflikts [Conditions of conflict settlement: A justice-psychological study of a local environmental conflict]. Hamburg, Germany: Dr. Kovac. M€uller, M. M., & Hiendl, B. (submitted). Justice perceptions and willingness for commitments to protect the global climate. M€uller, M. M., Maier, K., & Kals, E. (in press). Klimasch€ utzendes Handeln im Haushalt: Die Rolle von emotionaler Bindung an die Natur [Climate-protective behavior in the household: The role of emotional attachment to nature]. Umweltpsychologie. M€ uller, M. M., & Kals, E. (2007). Interactions between procedural fairness and outcome favorability in conflict situations. In K. Y. T€ ornblom & R. Vermunt (Eds.), Distributive and procedural justice (pp. 125–140). Aldershot, UK: Ashgate. M€uller, M. M., Kals, E., & Maes, J. (2008). Fairness, self-interest, and cooperation in a real-life conflict. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38, 684–704. M€uller, M. M., Kals, E., & Pansa, R. (2009). Adolescents’ emotional affinity toward nature: A cross-societal study. Journal of Developmental Processes, 4, 59–69. Opotow, S. (1994). Predicting protection: Scope of justice and the natural world. Journal of Social Issues, 50, 49–63. Opotow, S. (1996). Is justice finite? The case of environmental inclusion. In L. Montada & M. J. Lerner (Eds.), Current societal concerns about justice (pp. 213–229). New York, NY: Plenum Press. Schwartz, S. H. (1977). Normative influences on altruism. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 10, pp. 221–279). New York, NY: Academic. Schwartz, S. H., & Howard, J. A. (1981). A normative decision-making model of altruism. In J. P. Rushton & R. M. Sorrentino (Eds.), Altruism and helping behavior (pp. 189–211). Hillsdale, IN: Erlbaum. Steg, L., & Vlek, C. (2009). Encouraging pro-environmental behaviour: An integrative review and research agenda. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29, 309–317. Stern, P. C. (2000). Toward a coherent theory of environmentally significant behavior. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 407–424. Stern, P. C., & Dietz, T. (1994). The value basis of environmental concern. Journal of Social Issues, 50, 65–84. Stern, P. C., Dietz, T., & Guagnano, G. A. (1998). A brief inventory of values. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 58, 984–1001. Stern, P. C., Dietz, T., & Kalof, L. (1993). Value orientations, gender, and environmental concern. Environment and Behavior, 25, 322–348. Tangney, J. P., Stuewig, J., & Mashek, D. J. (2007). Moral emotions and moral behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 345–372. Van den Bos, K. (2005). What is responsible for the fair process effect? In J. Greenberg & J. A. Colquitt (Eds.), Handbook of organizational justice (pp. 273–300). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Climate Change and Global Justice Janine Bentz-H€olzl and Manfred Brocker

Abstract Today’s human-induced climate change is generating far-reaching ecological, economic and social change across the globe. Although industrialized countries are regarded as the primary causes of climate change, the costs are mainly laid at the door of developing countries – where emissions are low, but vulnerability is high. This raises the question of a fair and just balance of responsibilities. In the course of the current debate, the obvious deficiency in justice is merging into a demand for sustainable, fair environmental policies, which faces a twofold concrete problem: 1. Rapid and effective problem-solving strategies must be developed to mitigate the increase in global warming. To achieve this, the distribution mechanisms and distribution effects of trading with carbon certificates must be readjusted and reformed. 2. Successful climate protection policies could halt the progress of global warming and avoid a rise of over two degrees in global temperature. Despite this, human habitats would change radically. To guarantee the human adaptability which is thus under threat, preventive and adaptive measures are necessary which, although implemented as national projects, must be accompanied by the demand for international distribution of costs. An ethical analysis of climate change must ultimately lead to further restructuring of intergovernmental relations and the international system. Specifically, discussions must address the introduction of new institutions such as the establishment of an “International Environmental Court” designed to serve as a legal framework within which future conflicts can be solved.

J. Bentz-H€olzl (*) • M. Brocker Department of Political Science, Catholic University Eichst€att-Ingolstadt, Eichst€att, Germany e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_15, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



J. Bentz-H€olzl and M. Brocker

Anthropogenic Climate Change The world of tomorrow will be a changed one: freshwater reserves will dwindle, ecosystems will collapse, millions of people will suffer from hunger, diseases, or epidemics. Whole regions will become uninhabitable and refugee migration will explode. Everyday life in the twenty first century will be dominated by natural disasters and meteorological anomalies of as yet unknown extent. Their causes, however, are not disastrous events such as volcanic eruptions or meteorite strikes; as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established in its fourth assessment report (IPCC, 2007), natural climatic fluctuations can also be ruled out as explanations for the major climate changes currently observed. The panel concludes that climate change is caused by human beings, claiming almost 95% probability for its theory. A new climatic era has already entered the debate: the “Anthropocene Age” (thus named by the Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen; Rahmstorf & Schellnhuber, 2006). Modern Western lifestyle is blamed as its cause, based on consumption of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas that release greenhouse gases which exacerbate the natural greenhouse effect1 and accelerate temperature increases. Serious consequences include melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and a growing prevalence of drought and flooding. The atmospheric concentration of CO2, which accounts for the greatest proportion of greenhouse gases at approx. 60%, has risen throughout the course of industrialization from 280 parts per million (ppm) in 1750 to over 380 ppm today (Kappas, 2009). Since the beginning of industrialization, almost 80% of all greenhouse gases have been emitted by developed countries. The industrial countries listed in “Annex I” of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are responsible for half of all greenhouse gases emitted between 1970 and 2004 despite housing only 20% of the world’s population (M€ uller, Fuentes, & Kohl, 2007). As a consequence, they can be regarded as the main cause of climate change. Their counterparts are the developing countries, which primarily bear the burdens of climate change. These poorer countries are located in geographically sensitive regions in which climate change threatens to destroy the fragile balance of ecosystems, and with it the habitats and food resources of millions of people. Areas under particular threat are arid environments and tropical rainforests. The necessity of linking climate policy to the fight against underdevelopment and lack of resources is demonstrated by the inability of the developing countries to adjust to environmental changes: moves toward climate-friendly and emission-reducing technologies, like the financing of


Greenhouse gases such as CO2, CH4 und N2O are a natural component of the atmosphere and affect the earth’s radiation balance. Incoming solar radiation, which is short wave, passes through these gases; however, outgoing long-wave thermal radiation from the planetary surface is absorbed by them and reradiated in all directions, including back to the surface, causing the temperature to increase. The high amount of greenhouse gases produced by the industrialized countries returns more long-wave radiation to the surface. Hence, this process is known as the anthropogenic greenhouse effect (Rahmstorf & Schellnhuber, 2006).

Climate Change and Global Justice


other preventive and adaptive measures, are doomed because the costs involved generally exceed the financial scope and expertise available there. The ability to take self-help action declines proportionally to the rate of increase of climate change. In addition, consumption of fossil fuels and national development opportunities are closely correlated. Developing countries such as China and India justify their actions by pointing to the ‘climate crimes’ of the industrialized countries, claim their ‘right to development’ and demand compensation (Hansen, 2009).

The Gordian Knot of Climate Change: Mitigation and Adaptation The ecological crisis gives rise to a global need for action, with the goal of clamping down on human-induced climatic processes. The state of the art in science does not enable accurate forecasts to be made of the further progress or degree of intensity of climate change, which is coupled to socio-economic developments. In fact, the variables of ‘global population growth,’ ‘global consumption patterns,’ and ‘technological development’ – which could, for example, be increasingly based on regenerative energies instead of fossil fuels – generate a whole series of emission scenarios or projections, summarized in the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) and categorized into six scenario families ranging from 1.8 C to 4.0 C as the best estimation of probable temperature rise for the period from 1990 to 2100. The most pessimistic scenario, A1F1, shows a temperature rise from 2.4 C to 6.4 C depending on the underlying climate model, and an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration to over 1000 ppm (Latif, 2009). To avoid overstepping the bounds between moderate and hazardous climate change, over 100 countries have agreed on the ‘2.0 C target’ of a maximum temperature increase of 2.0 C by 2100, which is linked to hopes of new climate stability (WGBU, 2009; Latif, 2009). An initial pillar of global climate policy is thus the strategy of mitigation: climate change mitigation calls for an international treaty to manage distribution of the atmosphere as a resource – or, to be more precise, the capacity remaining before the output of greenhouse gases exceeds the level of stability. An initial temporary culmination of this global strategy was the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which bound the industrialized countries (with the exception of the USA, which did not ratify the protocol) to reduce their total greenhouse gas emissions by 5% compared with 1990 levels by 2012. The IPCC’s new results show that a follow-up agreement would have to impose significantly stricter targets for reduction than the Kyoto Protocol if uncontrolled climate change is to be prevented. Its report therefore calls for industrialized countries to reduce their emissions from their 1990 levels by 10–40% by 2020 and by 40–95% by 2050. In addition, it views the inclusion of developing and newly industrialized countries in new agreements as an urgent necessity (Lienkamp, 2009).


J. Bentz-H€olzl and M. Brocker

Regional emission trading systems such as the European Union Emission Trading System were introduced as tools for achieving compliance with the specifications set forth in the Kyoto Protocol and meeting voluntarily or statutorily defined climate protection targets. The establishment of emissions trading goes hand in hand with a redefinition of the atmosphere as a resource. As common property with the special status of a “life-supporting common resource” (Baer, 2010), it is and remains ‘non-excludable’. However, its privatization is contractually feigned in order to internalize the externalities associated with its commercial use. A global maximum volume of CO2 (‘peak’ or ‘budget’)2 is defined in accordance with the atmosphere’s limited capacity for carbon absorption and later gradually reduced. Emission volumes are restricted by the introduction and distribution of emission rights. Countries participating in carbon trading can award these rights to companies (German Advisory Council on Global Change, WGBU) or initial sellers of fossil fuels (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, PIK), which thus join the cap and trade system: if a company’s greenhouse gas output exceeds the permissible limit, it has the opportunity of buying new certificates from other participants; if production is lower, it can sell its unneeded rights. In the long term, emissions trading must move into global dimensions if the incentives for ‘free riding’ are to be reduced: a country which imposes less ambitious reduction targets – or even none at all – upon its activities benefits from the reductions by other countries (and the technological developments which emerge from them, because the other countries are compelled to switch to alternative energy concepts for profitability reasons) and may thus become a more attractive, because lowercost, location for industry (Edenhofer, Flachsland, & Luderer, 2009). In addition to mitigation, a second strategy in the fight against climate change is adaptation. This involves two different policies. At regional and local level, adaptation denotes the attempt to adjust at an early stage to those consequences of climate change which are already unavoidable today. Preventive measures must be taken to counteract dangers to existence and safeguard the adaptability of human habitats to irreversible climate change. Here, the need for action keeps pace as the vulnerability of a population group grows and the resilience of their geographical area decreases. Developing countries, for example, depend on improved medical care, since climate change will increase the risk of infection with malaria or dengue fever and lead to a global rise in diarrheal infections (Heinrich-B€oll-Stiftung & Oxfam Deutschland, 2010). Dike construction projects, early warning systems for natural disasters or the advancement of infrastructure to optimize water supplies constitute further building blocks of disaster prevention. However, adaptation also


The WGBU proposes defining a global budget for CO2 only and drawing up separate agreements for further greenhouse gases (e.g. methane, nitrogen oxide). By contrast, under emissions trading within the scope of the Kyoto Protocol, a single emission right certificate entitles the holder to the emission of a ton of CO2 (t CO2) or a ton of CO2 equivalent (t CO2e) (cf. Kappas, 2009). CO2 is thus used as an equivalent value to quantify the contribution of a specific greenhouse gas to the greenhouse effect.

Climate Change and Global Justice


has a further sense, in which climate protection is viewed as disaster aid in locations where preventive measures failed or were not taken. The number of people affected by environmental disasters since 1980 has risen from 75 million to almost 300 million today; and according to WHO forecasts, an annual 60,000 people could die in the future as a result of climate-related disasters, which are set to increase in both quantity and quality (Heinrich-B€ oll-Stiftung & Oxfam Deutschland, 2010). Neither form of adaptation is an alternative to mitigation; instead, they are complementary elements of climate (protection) policy.

Climate Change and Global Justice Two climate policy goals are currently being developed in the dialogue between science, politics and business: a call for sustainable and careful treatment of the environment on the one hand, and avoidance of jeopardizing national economic growth on the other. Fear of a global economic crisis or collapse of the energy industry explains the interest of the political sphere in specifically economic solution strategies that focus on correct cost and risk management. Here, the watchword is efficiency – in handling resources or with a view to cost-saving climate policy. Future profits are contrasted with the present costs of environmental protection as the foundation for calculating a discount rate. Depending on the model used as a basis, the viewpoint of cost efficiency can be used to justify either preventive measures for climate change, as proposed by economist Nicholas Stern (Stern, 2007), or a ‘business as usual’ strategy, as argued by political scientist Bjorn Lomborg (Lomborg, 2008) with reference to ‘exaggerated climate-change hysteria’. However, politics must not only allow itself to be influenced by economic targets and calculations, but must also grasp the ethical implications of climate change. From this perspective, a number of grounds can be raised against the ‘business as usual’ strategy. Climate change offers direct and indirect threats to human life and thus violates the principle of non-maleficence, “the human right to life; the human right to health; and the human right to subsistence” (Caney, 2009, p. 75). These violations of rights, or even the increased risk of violation of human rights, cannot be justified by economic advantages for individual countries. Secondly, without a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions there is a danger that tipping points will be reached in the global ecosystem, triggering uncontrollable global warming which will significantly impact on, or actually threaten the existence of, the human habitats of future generations (Edenhofer et al., 2009). This too would be classified as a violation of human rights. A political solution in line with ethical standards would therefore have to extend beyond purely economic and utilitarian perspectives and consider the fundamental rights of present and future generations. But even if a consensus can be reached that climate protection is ethically advisable, no conclusion can yet be drawn as to how the strategies of mitigation and adaptation should be implemented and how the costs involved will be borne.


J. Bentz-H€olzl and M. Brocker

The strategy of mitigation in the form of ‘privatization’ of the atmosphere, i.e., the introduction of global emissions trading comes in for criticism especially from developing countries as unfair. These countries view themselves primarily as victims of climate change rather than its co-perpetrators and demand compensation from industrialized countries, calling for these countries to be placed under obligation to reduce their emissions further. If we apply Aristotle’s differentiation between corrective (or commutative) and distributive justice at this point (Aristoteles, 1967; cf. H€ offe, 1996), the position described is evidently developed from the perspective of ‘corrective justice’: the developing countries argue that although they have only consumed a small share of the atmosphere’s capacity, they must bear a major share of the costs of climate change. Can the claims of the developing countries against the industrialized countries be ethically justified in this way? What responsibility accrues to affluent countries as part of global climate change? Furthermore, any ethical consideration of the issue must examine both the geographical and the temporal dimension of climate change: just conditions must be established not only between countries, but also – perhaps even as a priority – between the generations. The addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere will impair the conditions of life for future generations, who will thus not experience John Locke’s demand of ‘enough, and as good left’ (Locke, 1988, } 33). The generations in the decades to come must particularly be included in ethical considerations, as it is they who will primarily bear the costs of preventive measures; most adaptation strategies will already have to be implemented before 2050 to increase the adaptability of the regions impacted (Meyer, 2007). A concept of global justice in environmental ethics must therefore involve an examination of the significance of the rights of future generations (x þ 1, x þ 2, . . . x þ n) for the actions of the present generation x, and of the obligations which accrue to today’s generation out of the injustice meted out by past generations (x1, x2, . . . xn). In summary, the ethical stance of climate change gives rise to the question of the distribution of rights and obligations. To evaluate the degree of obligation, a distinction must be made as to whether a country (or an individual) has committed a direct injustice, contributed indirectly to an injustice or benefited from an injustice committed by others. In addition to the ‘perfect’ obligations which correspond to natural human rights, ‘imperfect’ obligations also exist (cf. Kant, 1990, pp. 264–267 and pp. 189–190; the distinction can already be found in the works of natural rights philosophers such as Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf; cf. Kersting, 1989). A moral obligation thus exists to alleviate absolute poverty, because this is the cause of living conditions beneath human dignity. The ‘liberal’ approach (of Rawls, 2005 or Pogge, 2008) which we are pursuing here, however, views the fight against poverty as ‘merely’ an imperfect obligation and, unlike egalitarianism (Ronald Dworkin, Philippe Van Parijs; cf. Krebs, 2002) or utilitarianism (e.g., Singer, 2004; Birnbacher, 2010), thus does not aim for equal global distribution of wealth and resources, but only calls for the guarantee of a subsistence level and the guarantee of human rights. Consequently, a distinction must be made between climate policy and poverty policy. The mere existence of social

Climate Change and Global Justice


inequality is not evaluated in climate policy. Instead, the social gulf between the prosperous industrialized countries and the poor developing countries must be analyzed to determine the extent to which it is deepened through future restrictions on the use of the atmosphere and the consequences of climate change. In a nutshell, poverty should be incorporated in any definition of obligations and rights as a relevant factor – extremely poor countries should receive significantly more support in adapting to climate change than other countries in a stronger position to take action – but poverty cannot in and of itself justify any further-reaching obligations on the part of the industrialized countries in climate change policy. Where the deficiency of justice accompanying climate change is concerned, in our view a distribution scale for claims on the atmosphere must initially be drawn up as a basis for a subsequent examination, and where applicable fulfillment, of compensation claims from developing countries and future generations. Discussions in this context examine a range of principles which, however, we believe have greater or lesser deficiencies and must therefore be rejected.

The ‘Polluter Pays’ Principle The ‘polluter pays’ principle, as described above, pursues a corrective justice approach, focuses on the responsibility of industrialized countries and calls upon them to compensate for the climate damage caused. It is already a constituent of numerous international agreements (cf. Watanabe, 2008). The ‘polluter pays’ principle is based on an institutional approach under which countries are assigned rights and obligations. The primary countries involved in mitigation and adaptation are thus the countries that have brought about climate change in the first place through their consumption of the atmosphere. Their obligation would be to reduce their emissions to zero while additionally financing climate protection projects in poorer countries. However, the ‘polluter pays’ principle is the subject of controversy in discussions of contemporary moral philosophy. Many view it as immediately convincing, especially when one joins Shue in reducing it to the simple rule, even taught to children, of “clean[ing] up one’s own mess” (Shue, 2010a, p. 102). On the other hand, it is challenged as politically unfeasible (Gardiner, 2010a; Singer, 2004). This view is in turn countered by the argument that the issue of feasibility is of a non-ethical nature and cannot be taken as a decisive criterion in the pro and contra of the arguments. Statements concerning feasibility would additionally exceed the boundaries of competence of philosophers, as Paul Baer stresses (Baer, Athanasiou, Kartha, & Kemp-Benedict, 2010). In his conviction, the ‘polluter pays’ principle is supported by the fact that if the ‘per capita’ principle (see below) were to be applied as an alternative, the right of poor countries to development would be violated by setting a tolerance value for greenhouse gas emissions that would potentially be too low. In addition, restricting the emissions of the industrialized and developing countries would still result in the total emission


J. Bentz-H€olzl and M. Brocker

volumes of the developing countries from their industrialization up to the year 2100 being lower than those of the affluent countries (Baer et al., 2010). The ‘polluter pays’ principle remains a problem since it ultimately infringes upon the rights of future generations; from this perspective, the unfeasibility of the principle does indeed play a key role and must be examined further. As the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research criticizes, the ‘polluter pays’ principle limits climate protection to individual regions. Targets for emission reduction are defined in national peaks without reference to a global emissions budget. This would lead to the creation of ‘climate islands’, the economies of which would be disadvantaged and which would face increasing migration by emission-intensive companies. The actual target of mitigation itself would be endangered twofold: first, determination of a global price for carbon dioxide emissions would be impossible, so that in many countries use of the atmosphere would remain free of charge; on the other hand, an efficient reduction of emissions would be jeopardized. Migration of industries to other countries without emission restrictions would be equivalent to relocating emissions, and would render any climate change efforts in the parent countries utterly futile from a global point of view. In addition, it must be assumed that a rapidly falling demand for fossil fuels in industrialized countries would trigger a price crash on the raw materials market; this would increase the purchasing potential of developing and newly industrialized countries and likewise their carbon emissions, thus significantly reducing the overall reductive effect on climate change (PIK - Schellnhuber, Wicke, & Klingenfeld, 2010). The ‘polluter pays’ principle is thus unable to integrate developing countries into a global climate protection program or guarantee effective climate protection. Developing countries would be encouraged into a course of action that would violate the rights of subsequent generations, which would suffer under the wide-ranging consequences such as extreme drought or weather disasters. A further argument against the ‘polluter pays’ principle is that it does not administer justice to the present generation, but instead regards a country as a timeless unit and ignores the fact that its population today is not responsible for the majority of emissions generated by their ancestors yesterday. The philosopher Eric Neumayer therefore attempts to modify the principle by changing it into a ‘beneficiary pays’ approach (cf. Caney, 2010). Under this principle, countries that have benefited the most from pollution would be subject to a particular moral responsibility (cf. Neumayer, 2000). The focus is thus no longer on corrective justice and a confrontation between climate change victims and perpetrators, but on the global inequality which climate policy should aim to remedy. However, after subjecting Neumayer’s approach to critical analysis we can only partly agree. True, the actual perpetrators of climate change are unable to deliver any compensation, so that responsibility should be shifted to those that profit from the injustice (in this case, then, the current generation living in the industrialized countries), who have unjustifiably benefited from the high emissions of past generations or still do so today. In this respect the industrialized countries should make the most of their advantages and contribute towards remedying the injustice. However, this obligation has a weaker status than the obligation of compensation

Climate Change and Global Justice


arising from a direct contribution to an injustice. As we will propose in our dual concept, ‘profiting from injustice’ thus plays a subordinate role in our search for a just and fair basis for a distribution model for the atmosphere.

The ‘Per Capita’ Principle As an alternative to the ‘polluter pays’ principle, various institutions (e.g., the German Advisory Council on Global Change, WGBU, or the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, PIK) and philosophers such as Peter Singer (Singer, 2004) and Dale Jamieson favor the ‘per capita’ principle, which strives to act as an intermediary between the industrialized and developing countries by assigning emission rights to each country on the basis of its population. This approach to justice is distributive, ignoring the historical responsibility of countries and focusing on individuals. In the endeavor to develop a just and fair basis for distribution, every person has the right to utilize an equally large share of the atmospheric capacity. An argument in favor of the ‘per capita’ principle, claims Dale Jamieson, is the fact that historical emissions do not have the same status as present or future emissions. Since use of the atmosphere has only become the subject of political conflict in recent times, it would be sufficient to agree on new regulations in this conflict or to align activities to our current state of knowledge concerning the interaction between greenhouse gases and climate change (Jamieson, 2010). According to Weisbach und Posner, corrective claims of justice can be ignored simply because empirical studies indicate that the emissions of industrialized and developing countries will soon reach the same level (Posner & Weisbach, 2010)3. The demand for a per capita distribution is regularly linked with that for a global trading system. Such a system would have three benefits. First, it would impose a twofold limit on global greenhouse gas emissions at both national and global level, i.e., a specific region’s efforts at reducing emissions could not be cancelled out by an increase in emissions from another region (WGBU, 2009). Second, the emissions trading system would guarantee that the atmosphere could no longer be used as a free dump for pollutants. Instead, the market would develop a global carbon price that would provide an incentive for sustainable business operations, establishing climate-friendly investment and consumer behavior and supporting international climate projects and collaboration between industrialized and developing countries (PIK - Schellnhuber et al., 2010). Third, global trade would render transitional arrangements such as those envisaged by the C&C approach4 ultimately


Posner and Weisbach argue in favor of including all countries in an international climate agreement and point out that global redistribution should not be the goal of climate policy. They take the ‘per capita’ principle further by calling for equal distribution of the burden, i.e. a percentage-based reduction in emissions in relation to the status quo (Posner & Weisbach, 2010). 4 The ‘contraction and convergence’ approach developed by the Global Commons Institute includes a transition period in which countries would initially receive certificates equal to their


J. Bentz-H€olzl and M. Brocker

superfluous, since industrialized countries would be able to buy additional certificates when required and the specified greenhouse gas reductions would not need to take place directly in the territory of a specific country. This would have the economic benefit that greenhouse gases could be saved wherever it was costeffective to do so (Umweltbundesamt, 2010). The ‘per capita’ principle can thus serve as a contribution to an efficient market for pollution rights. In addition, it appears – as already noted – to be just, since it corresponds to the premise of equal distribution and is based on an individual approach: distribution of the certificates would be oriented to population numbers, ignoring any strategic or specific national advantages such as military or financial superiority or advanced industrial or technological development. This is a basis upon which the fair and proactive integration of developing and newly industrialized countries into a global climate agreement could meet with success. However, the ‘per capita’ principle requires critical assessment precisely from an ethical perspective. The concept does not take the poverty factor into consideration, although the life-threatening consequences of climate change would impact the hardest on the poorer sections of the global population. In addition, the principle is criticized because it cheats the developing countries by ignoring any historical responsibility on the part of the industrialized countries that exhausted most of the atmosphere’s capacity in the past. The ‘per capita’ principle is a ‘time-slice’5 principle which stops time, as it were, to turn the spotlight on current circumstances (cf. Singer, 2004). Since a ‘time-slice’ principle does not refer to how these circumstances arose, it focuses solely on the distributive dimension of justice. In practice, a variety of instruments are used in an attempt to remedy this deficit. The WGBU is in favor of funds into which wealthy countries would pay and which would go toward supporting climate projects in other countries – an approach also adopted by ‘clean development mechanism’ programs which enable Annex I countries to participate in emission-saving projects in non-Annex I countries, with the reductions credited to their balance. While these projects are a good start, they are wholly inadequate from an ethical point of view. By consuming a disproportionate amount of atmospheric capacity, the industrialized countries have committed a direct injustice against the developing countries that still applies today. An ethical analysis must take this into consideration and define the obligations accruing to today’s generation from the emissions of the past and those to future generations from the emissions of today. Both cases constitute ‘perfect’ obligations because the consequences of climate change threaten the natural rights of countless people. Neither the populations of developing countries nor future generations can be denied the right to life and physical integrity for

actual greenhouse gas emissions, to allow them the scope to redevelop their energy industry. The ‘per capita’ principle would only kick in from the year 2050 (see Edenhofer, Flachsland & Luderer, 2009; Baer, Athanasiou, Kartha & Kemp-Benedict, 2010). 5 For the distinction between the ‘historical’ and the ‘time-slice’ principle, see Nozick, 1974.

Climate Change and Global Justice


which a stable climate is the prerequisite. Isolated acts of voluntary aid or sporadic financing of climate projects are certainly not enough to guarantee this. The variation on the ‘per capita’ principle proposed by Henry Shue and Steve Vanderheiden is also flawed, calling for a distinction between subsistence and luxury emissions and thus addressing the cause of greenhouse gas emissions with the view that only some of these are necessary and unavoidable to cover vital and essential human needs. Only subsistence emissions define a ‘basic right’ which must accrue to each individual (Shue, 2010b; Vanderheiden, 2008a). However, according to Gardiner, this variation has no perceivable worth over the original ‘per capita’ principle, since the latter would likewise guarantee the scope of subsistence emissions (Gardiner, 2010a). In addition, the practical feasibility of this version must be doubted since no distinction can be made between the two types of emissions. While one could perhaps at best exempt agricultural emissions from the distribution budget, as proposed by Shue (Shue, 2010b), this would reward the luxurious eating habits of the wealthy sections of the population. Criteria for fair distribution of luxury emissions would have to be defined in analogy to subsistence emissions. But who should receive them? Basing his arguments on the ‘right to development’, Vanderheiden favors economically developing countries such as India and China, which, unlike the industrialized countries, have as yet consumed only a small part of their atmospheric capacity (Vanderheiden, 2008a). It would, however, be more reasonable from this perspective to consider the less and least developed countries, primarily those on the African continent. But in either case, there is no automatic connection between economic development or prosperity and the possession of emission rights. Factors such as innovation, knowledge, capital or political stability are of greater significance here and are the object of poverty and development policy rather than environmental policy. Finally, one argument against any distinction between subsistence and luxury emissions is that verification – including in quantitative terms – would be practically unfeasible without extensive intervention in a country’s internal affairs. How to proceed, for example, if a country fails to use the subsistence emissions it has been granted to secure the subsistence of its own population, but instead expands the prosperity of a small group within that population?

A Dual Concept We will now present a dual concept we have developed, which adopts an intermediary position between the distributive and corrective approaches of justice and takes both the individual person and the individual countries into consideration. The fundamental difference between the ‘polluter pays’ principle and the ‘per capita’ principle is the incorporation of the temporal element of climate change. The former stresses the historical responsibility of the industrialized countries, yet neglects to factor in the responsibility of present-day generations to their successors in the future; the second principle rejects claims of compensation for injustice


J. Bentz-H€olzl and M. Brocker

committed in the past, ignores the advantaged position which the industrialized countries have gained from this and cements existing injustices. Considerations towards solving this conflict must not be restricted to the problem of distribution of the atmosphere, as usually happens in both political debate and philosophical discourse; for in addition to mitigation, the second strategy for fighting climate change is based on adaptation. The perfect and imperfect obligations resulting from historical responsibility must first of all be clearly separated from each other; second, their level of obligation must be clearly defined; and third, they must be coupled to both mitigation and adaptation. (Our approach thus differs significantly from other ‘hybrid concepts’ such as those designed by Caney, 2010, or Page, 2008). We are thus no longer forced to decide for (polluter pays) or against (per capita) the plausibility of historical justice, but are in a position to combine distributive and corrective claims of justice. The ‘per capita’ principle is the starting-point for our dual concept, since it envisages equal distribution and is thus just and fair for all individuals. This is firstly because of the characteristic of the atmosphere as freely accessible common property, from the use of which no individual can be excluded. No criteria can be found for unequal distribution. To date, poor people in particular have benefited scarcely or not at all from the high emissions of the industrialized countries. In future, they should be granted rights to an equivalent share of the atmosphere as a resource taken by the industrialized countries or the opportunity to use it independently. Second, the remaining capacity of the atmosphere cannot be compared to other raw materials such as wood, oil, or coal: today’s inhabitants of industrialized countries do not ‘own’ a piece of the atmosphere which they can return to the developing countries. Given this, they must manage with exactly the same capacity as everyone else. It is true that responsibility for the majority of climate-relevant greenhouse gases does not lie with today’s generation themselves but with their ancestors, so that we cannot talk of a direct contribution to injustice. However, the present generation is in an advantageous position (prosperity through industrialization) which is based on past injustice (disproportionately high emissions of greenhouse gases), so that, with respect to intergenerational justice, this generation has to render compensation to all those who experienced injustice in the past or are still disadvantaged as a result of earlier injustice. ‘Profiting from injustice’ must thus be included in the distribution model by compelling the industrialized countries to finance measures aimed at supporting mitigation. These first include protecting existing forests, which store enormous volumes of carbon, and relieving the developing countries’ burden of conserving the forests or compensating these countries for their loss of lucrative income sources, e.g. from the sale of tropical hardwoods, soybeans, or palm oil plantations (cf. Lienkamp, 2009; M€uller, 2009). Poor countries would receive credits in the form of additional greenhouse gas certificates for the volume of carbon stored by the forests, while the cost of the credits would be deducted from the total budget of the industrialized countries. In addition, a fund would be set up to ensure the subsistence of poorer populations that depend on forests as a source of income. Secondly, successful mitigation of climate change is dependent on technological development, and for this reason the second modification

Climate Change and Global Justice


of global trade should constitute the transfer of climate-friendly technology to developing and newly industrialized countries. The existing ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ in the Kyoto Protocol could be used for this, or a further fund set up to reward new inventions, which would then be provided to all countries free of charge. The obligations held by populations of wealthy countries, however, do not solely derive from their ‘profiting from injustice’. Above and beyond this, these populations’ direct contribution to injustice, manifested in their still-high consumption levels today, must be taken into consideration. If we follow the principle of equal distribution and assume that permitted emissions should be capped at, say, 3.5 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year (a level currently reached by China, for example), this is a level by far exceeded by the USA (at 20 tons per capita) and Germany (10 tons per capita) (Balser, 2010). The obligations which can be derived from this are ‘perfect’ obligations, resulting from the principles of corrective justice. The future generations are the holders of the corresponding rights, so that efforts at rendering compensation should be directed at the decades to come, shifting the focus from mitigation to adaptation. Since the volume of emissions produced cannot be calculated for each and every individual, this initially individual approach requires a collective amendment at this point. Under this amendment, the holders of obligations are thus no longer the individual members of the population but the industrialized countries; although they are regarded as units, the scope of their obligation is temporally limited to the present generation. Thus, these countries must not be punished for their unwitting past contribution to climate change (cf. Singer, 2004; Neumayer, 2000). The year 1990, in which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, founded by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization, published its first report, is therefore a suitable boundary. The industrialized countries carry a special responsibility because of their knowledge of the cause and effects of climate change, given that they have deliberately used an excessive amount of the atmosphere’s capacity. This may thus be used as a basis to define claims that primarily benefit poor and underdeveloped countries – for example, the financing of aid projects designed to increase people’s ability to adjust to changing climatic conditions. The approach presented here falls far short of the demands of the ‘polluter pays’ principle, because of the liberal stance that while poverty generates a moral obligation to help, this obligation has the status of a mere imperfect obligation. Social inequalities alone do not justify claims of corrective justice. Climate policy must not be equated with poverty policy, but must be complemented by it.

Outlook: An International Environmental Court of Justice The international community’s failure at the Cancu´n climate summit in December 2010 shows that the diverging interests of the participating countries still form an obstruction to a uniform and efficient climate policy. Given the tough negotiations over a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, we may assume that the


J. Bentz-H€olzl and M. Brocker

establishment of a new Organization for Climate and Environment (OCE) is essential, provided that the countries can agree on the terms of a new treaty – which they are in fact ethically obliged to do. Future generations have a right to ‘insist’ that the present generation establishes just and fair climate protection measures. At the same time, the poorer developing countries have a right to receive support for their implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures. These perfect rights serve as a basis from which to derive perfect obligations, and the establishment of the OCE by the international community is essential for their realization. The scope of the organization’s tasks would include documentation of greenhouse gas emissions in individual countries, examination and evaluation of national climate projects and forest conservation projects, coordination of new research results (the IPCC could be integrated into the new structures as a suborganization) and technology transfers, and administration of the various funds. In addition, the OCE would be tasked with organizing the award of loans, primarily microcredits to support the poorer populations in adjusting to the new conditions caused by climate change. The advantage of an independent organization would be that an agreement which was just in theory would also be sufficient to implement ethical standards, thus compensating for the developing countries’ fundamentally weaker position in negotiations. Because the establishment of a global carbon market would bring the danger of price distortion, transitional arrangements could be made to prevent the price of carbon from dropping below a certain level and balance out externalities. In addition, the OCE would be able to apply market regulation to prevent extreme fluctuations in prices and volumes – a process which would, for example, prevent hoarding of certificates, the equivalent of artificially restricting the availability of the atmosphere as a resource (PIK - Schellnhuber et al., 2010). The OCE would combine political and scientific structures in its organization. The heart of the organization would be an environmental council, elected by the member countries and charged with key tasks including defining climate protection measures, and political coordination and consolidation. To ensure this council has the necessary specialist expertise, an impartial environmental commission made up of scientists from a range of disciplines would be appointed. Sub-groups could be founded to address the ecological and social consequences of climate change in interdisciplinary approaches, make recommendations for action to the environmental council, and publish regular reports on developments in international climate policy. The OCE would thus become an important and powerful player on the international stage; however, we would recommend establishing an international environmental court of justice (EC) at its side, to serve as a check and balance system for the OCE, while also ensuring support for the OCE’s implementation of climate change policies from the EC’s function as an issuer of sanctions. The field of climate protection is particularly rife with major encouragements of free riding. Although climate protection is meaningful and necessary from a collective perspective, a country which merely feigns participation can benefit twofold: economically, by not subjecting itself to any selfimposed limitations, and ecologically, because it benefits from the climate protection efforts of the other countries. The intergenerational problem can be traced

Climate Change and Global Justice


along a parallel course: each generation would rather leave climate protection up to its succeeding generation than invest in sustainability itself (Gardiner, 2010b). As a consequence, the EC is a prerequisite for the effective implementation of mitigation. However, its function would be more important in the implementation of adaptation strategies. As we have shown, the normative relevance of climate change can serve as a basis from which to derive perfect rights and obligations and transform them into enforceable rights. Perfect rights are admittedly not enforceable rights by definition. In a Kantian interpretation, they may be linked to an inner compulsion (duty of virtue) or external compulsion (duty of right) (see Gosepath, 2009). However, the global and temporal dimension of climate change and the accompanying threat to human rights favor the juridification of the obligations of present generations, with the aim of protecting both the poor and the future generations from the consequences of climate change. An individual country that aims to ensure the rights of its population must do more than pass national laws: it must turn to international cooperation, so that global legal norms can be created for this purpose. On the one hand, the EC is necessary to enable countries to enforce their rights if they feel disadvantaged by the OCE’s distribution of funds. On the other hand, the profits from certificate trading and those funds are linked to specific mandatory conditions designed to serve climate protection, the fight against poverty and national economic development. An environmental court can be called in where embezzlement or misappropriation of the funds is suspected. However, the court should be open not only to countries, but also to individuals seeking direct assistance. Fishermen and farmers suffer especially under the consequences of climate change and cannot always hope for support from their government in tackling their problems. The EC would also be a valuable instrument in solving conflicts at international level, for example where countries see themselves as under threat from increasing water shortages, floods of refugees, and so on as a consequence of climate change. To ensure that equal status is guaranteed to all countries, the judges at the EC would be appointed by the governments of all countries. Nominations would be submitted by the environmental council and would have to fulfill specific criteria. For example, candidates would have to show that they hold the required qualifications and are committed to climate protection as the ultimate goal. The court would be able to prepare the groundwork for its decisions by carrying out independent investigations, inviting impartial experts, and working closely together with the environmental council. Countries would thus be obliged to implement the climate protection measures prescribed by the OCE or face legal consequences. One result would be to strengthen human rights at global level, since the court would make its decisions regardless of the national interests of individual countries. The ethical assessment of climate change is essential if we are to be able to tackle the ecological challenges we are facing. The burdens associated with the political and economic measures of mitigation and adaptation must be fairly distributed. This requirement will inevitably lead to a restructuring in the


J. Bentz-H€olzl and M. Brocker

international community of states which would recognize the value of the climate and the environment and develop in the direction of a ‘federal global republic’ with its own judiciary powers. Acknowledgements We would like to thank Peter Niesen (Darmstadt) for his helpful comments.

References Aristoteles. (1967). Die Nikomachische Ethik [Nicomachean Ethics]. M€unchen, Germany: Artemis. Baer, P. (2010). Adaption to climate change: Who pays whom? In S. Caney, S. Gardiner, H. Shue, & D. Jamieson (Eds.), Climate ethics: Essential readings (pp. 247–262). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Baer, P., Athanasiou, T., Kartha, S., & Kemp-Benedict, E. (2010). Greenhouse development rights: A framework for climate protection that is “more fair” than equal per capita emissions rights. In S. Caney, S. Gardiner, H. Shue, & D. Jamieson (Eds.), Climate ethics: Essential readings (pp. 215–230). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Balser, M. (2010, Dec. 14). Klimawandel im Wohnzimmer [Climate change in the living room]. S€ uddeutsche Zeitung (p. 19), Nr. 289. Birnbacher, D. (2010). Klimaverantwortung als Verteilungsproblem [Climate responsibility as a distributive problem]. In H. Welzer, H. G. Soeffner, & D. Giesecke (Eds.), Klimakulturen. Soziale Wirklichkeiten im Klimawandel (pp. 111–127). Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Campus. Caney, S. (2009). Climate change, human rights, and moral thresholds. In S. Humphreys (Ed.), Human rights and climate change (pp. 69–90). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Caney, S. (2010). Cosmopolitan justice, responsibility, and global climate change. In S. Caney, S. Gardiner, H. Shue, & D. Jamieson (Eds.), Climate ethics: Essential readings (pp. 122–145). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Edenhofer, O., Flachsland, C., & Luderer, G. (2009). Global Deal: Eckpunkte einer globalen Klimaschutzpolitik [Global deal: Basics of a global climate protection policy]. In J. Wallacher & K. Scharpenseel (Eds.), Klimawandel und globale Armut (pp. 109–140). Stuttgart, Germany: Kohlhammer. Gardiner, S. (2010a). Ethics and global climate change. In S. Caney, S. Gardiner, H. Shue, & D. Jamieson (Eds.), Climate ethics: Essential readings (pp. 3–35). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Gardiner, S. (2010b). A perfect moral storm. In S. Caney, S. Gardiner, H. Shue, & D. Jamieson (Eds.), Climate ethics: Essential readings (pp. 87–98). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Gosepath, S. (2009). Notlagen und institutionell basierte Hilfspflichten [Emergency and obligations of help based on institutions]. In B. Bleisch & P. Schaber (Eds.), Weltarmut und Ethik (pp. 213–246). Paderborn, Germany: Mentis. Hansen, S. (2009). Die Reichen zuerst [The rich go first]. Le Monde diplomatique. Retrieved from. http://www.monde-diplomatique.de/pm/.dossier/klima_artikel.id,20091113a0045. Nov. 23, 2010. Heinrich-B€oll-Stiftung., & Oxfam Deutschland. (2010). Klima sch€ utzen, Armut verhindern [Brochure] [Protect the climate, prevent poverty]. Retrieved from. http://www.boell.de/ downloads/201011_Klima_Schuetzen_Armut_Verhindern.pdf. Nov. 18, 2010. H€ offe, O. (1996). Aristoteles. M€ unchen, Germany: Beck. IPCC. (2007). Climate Change 2007. Fourth assessment report (AR4). Contributions of working groups I, II, III and synthesis report. Paper presented at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Climate Change and Global Justice


Jamieson, D. (2010). Adaptation, mitigation, and justice. In S. Caney, S. Gardiner, H. Shue, & D. Jamieson (Eds.), Climate ethics: Essential readings (pp. 263–283). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Kant, I. (1990). Die Metaphysik der Sitten [Metaphysics of Morals]. Stuttgart, Germany: Reclam. Kappas, M. (2009). Klimatologie. Klimaforschung im 21. Jahrhundert – Herausforderung f€ ur Natur- und Sozialwissenschaften [Climatology. Climate research in the 21st century – a challenge for natural and social science]. Heidelberg, Germany: Spektrum. Kersting, W. (1989). Pflichten, unvollkommene und vollkommene [Absolute and imperfect duties]. In J. Ritter, K. Gr€ under, & G. Gabriel (Eds.), Historisches W€ orterbuch der Philosophie (Vol. 7, p. 434). Basel, Switzerland: WBG. Krebs, A. (2002). Gleichheit oder Gerechtigkeit [Equality or justice]. In H. Nagl-Docekal & H. Pauer-Studer (Eds.), Freiheit, Gleichheit und Autonomie (pp. 49–93). Wien, Austria: Oldenbourg. Latif, M. (2009). Klimawandel und Klimadynamik [Climate change and climate dynamics]. Stuttgart, Germany: Eugen Ulmer. Lienkamp, A. (2009). Klimawandel und Gerechtigkeit: Eine Ethik der Nachhaltigkeit in christlicher Perspektive [Climate change and justice: Ethics of sustainability based on a Christian point of view]. Paderborn, Germany: Sch€ oningh. Locke, J. (1988). Two Treatises of Government. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Lomborg, B. (2008). Cool it! Warum wir trotz Klimawandels einen k€ uhlen Kopf bewahren sollten [“Cool it!” Why we should stay calm despite of the climate change]. M€unchen, Germany: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt. Meyer, L. (2007). Intergenerationelle Gerechtigkeit. Die Bedeutung von zuk€ unftigen Klimasch€ aden f€ ur die heutige Klimapolitik [Intergenerational Justice. Relevance of future climate damages for today’s climate policy]. Bern, Switzerland: Bundesamt f€ur Umwelt (BAFU). M€uller, J. (2009). Die Entwicklungsl€ander vor der Herausforderung des Klimawandels am Beispiel Indonesiens [Developing countries challenged by climate change, focus on Indonesia]. In J. Wallacher & K. Scharpenseel (Eds.), Klimawandel und globale Armut (pp. 31–60). Stuttgart, Germany: Kohlhammer. M€uller, M., Fuentes, U., & Kohl, H. (2007). Der UN-Weltklimareport. Bericht u€ber eine aufhaltsame Katastrophe [World climate report. Report about a resistable catastrophe]. K€oln, Germany: Kiepenheuer und Witsch. Neumayer, E. (2000). In defence of historical accountability for greenhouse gas emissions. Ecological Economics, 33, 185–192. Nozick, R. (1974). Anarchy, state and utopia. New York, NY: Basic Books. Page, E. (2008). Distributing the burdens of climate change. Environmental Politics, 17(4), 556–575. PIK - Schellnhuber, H. J., Wicke, L., & Klingenfeld, D. (2010). PIK Report. No. 116. Nach Kopenhagen: Neue Strategie zur Realisierung des 2˚˜max-Klimazieles [PIK report. No. 116. After Copenhagen: New strategies to realize the climate goal of 2 degrees at max]. Potsdam, Germany: PIK. Pogge, T. (2008). World poverty and human rights (2nd ed.). Cambridge, UK: Polity. Posner, E., & Weisbach, D. (2010). Climate change justice. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Rahmstorf, S., & Schellnhuber, H. J. (2006). Der Klimawandel: Diagnose, Prognose, Therapie [Climate change: Diagnosis, prognosis, therapy]. M€ unchen, Germany: Beck. Rawls, J. (2005). A theory of justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Shue, H. (2010a). Global environment and the international inequality. In S. Caney, S. Gardiner, H. Shue, & D. Jamieson (Eds.), Climate ethics: Essential readings (pp. 101–111). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.


J. Bentz-H€olzl and M. Brocker

Shue, H. (2010b). Subsistence emissions and luxury emissions. In S. Caney, S. Gardiner, H. Shue, & D. Jamieson (Eds.), Climate ethics: Essential readings (pp. 200–214). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Singer, P. (2004). One world. The ethics of globalization (2nd ed.). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Stern, N. (2007). Economics of climate change: The stern review. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Umweltbundesamt. (2010). Kosten- und Modellvergleich langfristiger Klimaschutzpfade (bis 2050). Kernthesen zum 2. Zwischenbericht des Forschungs- und Entwicklungsvorhabens (FKZ 3708 49 104) im Auftrag des Umweltbundesamtes [Comparison of costs and methods of different ways to a long-term climate protection (until 2050). Parentheses of the second status report of the research and development plan on order of the German Federal Environmental Agency (FKZ 3708 49 104)]. Dessau-Roßlau, Germany: Umweltbundesamt. Vanderheiden, S. (2008). Climate change, environmental rights, and emission shares. In S. Vanderheiden (Ed.), Political theory and global climate change (pp. 43–66). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Watanabe, R. (2008). Who should pay for climate protection? Another side of the same coin of burden sharing. Wuppertal, Germany: Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. WGBU – Der Wissenschaftliche Beirat der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltver€anderungen. (2009). Der Budgetansatz, Factsheet Nr. 3 [An approach focused on budget, fact sheet No. 3]. Berlin, Germany: WGBU.

International Negotiations on Climate Change: Integrating Justice Psychology and Economics – a Way out of the Normative Blind Alley? Heidi Ittner and Cornelia Ohl

Abstract For international climate policy the point at issue is: Will the nations be able to work out a binding post-Kyoto agreement with stringent policy targets and will this be translated into action within a reasonable time frame? In other words, what are the determining factors of cooperative behavior within international climate negotiations, and how can global cooperation among sovereign nations be fostered? To deal with these questions, our conceptual paper proposes to strongly link justice psychology and environmental economics, in particular game theory. Game theory interprets the interaction of nations resp. of representing actors as a public goods (PG) game identifying a social dilemma situation. The aim is to identify the conditions under which a sufficient rate of cooperation can be realized to provide the PG. Game theory thereby focuses on structural conditions in order to reach a sufficient and efficient rate of cooperation to provide the PG at stake. Also searching for determinants of cooperation, psychology follows a different path: it takes a variety of possible human motives into account and analyzes their impact on cooperative decisions empirically. Within that, our approach focuses on subjective justice perceptions: Can justice motives foster cooperative behavior within international negotiations? And if so, towards whom and under which structural conditions? On a conceptual and methodological level, we focus on individual political actors representing national interests within international climate negotiations and dealing with international cooperation tasks. The empirical approach of psychology

H. Ittner (*) Department of Social and Personality Psychology, Otto-von-Guericke-University of Magdeburg, P.O. Box 4120, D-39016 Magdeburg, Germany e-mail: [email protected] C. Ohl This work was done while at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Department of Economics, Permoserstr. 15, D-04301 Leipzig, Germany e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_16, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



H. Ittner and C. Ohl

intertwined with game-theoretical modeling allows important conclusions for the support of international environmental cooperation. Additionally, we consider our integrative perspective as fundamental for further theoretical and empirical advancements of the interdisciplinary as well as disciplinary approaches.

Introduction Global climate protection is one of the most important and urgent issues societies worldwide deal with. Over the past decades scientific as well as political awareness of global climate change as being one of the most complex challenges and risks were and still are continuously growing. But nevertheless, the global emission level of greenhouse gases (GHG) is still rising nowadays – and this is not only the case for emerging countries, like China, India or Brazil; also many industrialized countries do not meet their emission reduction goals set by the Kyoto Protocol (e.g., Casella, Delbosc, & de Perthuis, 2010; Trust, 2005; IPCC, 2007). Hence, to face the challenge, continuing and intensified international efforts are and will be necessary. This includes, first of all, reaching agreement on the inevitable need for ongoing international commitment and joint action for climate protection. Nearly 20 years ago, the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 resulted in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It can be seen as a very first milestone on the road to global climate protection. Since then the climate issue is frequently on the top of the international political agenda and has experienced high publicity in mass media and even cinemas worldwide. The problem severity was impressively highlighted with the Nobel Peace Prize 2007 awarded jointly to Al Gore and the IPCC for “their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change” (URL: http://nobelprize.org/ nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2007/, Oct 17, 2010). Nowadays public attention regularly peaks along the rhythm of the continuous meetings and summits with the community of nations still struggling to develop and to negotiate joint strategies of a global climate protection policy. Despite the rapidly grown global consciousness and commitment, after Rio it took another 5 years to work out a detailed action plan based on the Rio Convention. Nevertheless, this action plan can be seen as the second milestone: the Kyoto Protocol finally negotiated in December 1997 in Japan. The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding agreement under which the industrialized countries agreed to reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2% compared to the year 1990 – corresponding to their respective responsibility and capability for climate change protection measures. The environmental goal is to lower the overall emissions of six greenhouse gases. But, in order to get the Protocol into force and to become a legally binding instrument of international and national climate protection policy, it had to be ratified by at least 55 countries which are together responsible for at least 55% of global emissions (Oberth€ur & Ott, 1999). This

International Negotiations on Climate Change: Integrating Justice Psychology


ratifying process turned out as an extremely difficult to overcome roadblock for global climate protection. The reason behind this is a struggle among a complex network of agents representing the competing interests of complex political relationships within and between nations. In the end, it took another 8 years for the Kyoto Protocol to finally come into force in February 2005. Refusing to ratify implies, first, severe environmental consequences: The global diffusion of GHG requires global cooperation among sovereign states – ideally worldwide. Otherwise efforts in emission reductions by a subgroup of nations face the risk of being counterbalanced by the withdrawing countries. Second, the refusal to ratify sends a strong social psychological signal: Not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol can be interpreted as free-riding behavior of a single state which is not sanctioned by the global community and thus implicitly accepted. So why should and how could it give impulse today for enforcing cooperation with the still withdrawing industrialized nations and the developing part of the world? So far, 188 countries (responsible for 63.7% of global emissions) have ratified the Kyoto Protocol which refers to the time period up to 2012. Consequently, the political focus has shifted, for already quite a while, to the so-called post-Kyoto era after 2012. One consensual goal for this period is to limit global warming to an increase of 2 C, which implies a 50% reduction of GHG emissions worldwide until 2050 with the reference baseline in 1990. It is the identified third milestone for paving the way to decarbonizing important parts of the economy, like transport and the energy sector. To reach this goal, not only the industrialized countries have to meet their reduction goals and further increase their efforts, but also developing countries and emerging nations have to be integrated into a global climate protection regime. 2007 the so-called Bali Road Map set the discussion agenda and determined the deadline to complete negotiations until 2009 with the key issues of mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance. However, in December 2009 the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen failed to come up with an agreement on the most urgent issue – the mitigation of GHG emissions worldwide by national obligations to keep emission within pre-specified boundaries that safeguard the maximum warming goal of 2 C (e.g., Casella et al., 2010). And in 2010, all the world looked to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 16/CMP 6) in Cancun to see whether the global community of nations will be able to push on successful negotiations and to end up with an agreement – as Patricia Espinosa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico and incoming President of the COP 16/CMP 6 said: “With political will and a pragmatic outlook, Cancun can be the beginning of a new era of agreements on climate change.” (URL: http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_16/items/5571.php, Nov 7, 2010). But how will the new era of agreements look like? The still crucial questions are: How can so far withdrawing nations, industrial on the one hand and developing countries and emerging nations on the other hand, successfully be integrated into a post-Kyoto commitment and agreement? How stringent and effective will the individual targets be? And most pressing, how long will it take to work out such a post-Kyoto agreement on a detailed level and to get it ratified, this time by an enlarged group of still heterogeneous nations regarding


H. Ittner and C. Ohl

for instance their state of development, growth in emissions and population? To answer these questions scientifically requires research on: What are the crucial determining factors of cooperative respectively defective behavior within global climate protection negotiations? This research question represents the focus of this chapter. We will first approach it from an economic and a psychological perspective before we intertwine both of them to come up with an innovative interdisciplinary, integrative approach.

Global Cooperation of Nations from the Perspective of Social Sciences The traditionally dominant social science within environmental policy, next to political sciences, is economics. These disciplines are usually asked for scientific evaluation and recommendations, which then serve as a basis for developing political strategies and decisions. Though psychological phenomena and mechanisms are present all throughout politics, the corresponding professional knowledge is usually not likewise in demand within political decision processes. However, this has been subject to change over the past years – and we hope to also further evoke this demand.

Perspective of Economics From an economic perspective, the problem of cutting back global GHG emissions shows the characteristics of a public good. Consequently, in terms of game theory, global climate protection is frequently defined as a public good dilemma respectively a public good game (e.g., Barrett, 1997; Buchholz & Peters, 2005; Finus, 2001; Ohl, 2003). The outcome of such a game is based on the interaction of the involved actors, representing nations in this case. They face a dilemma between acting in accordance with maximizing the own, i.e. the national benefit on the one hand and on the other hand the costly provision of the common good, i.e. global climate protection. Following the behavioral model of the Homo economicus – which is basically the idea of men that game theory is based upon – players in a pure public good game should choose free-riding as the rational behavior strategy. That is to say, they maximize their own benefit by not taking the socially optimal level of climate protection measures (as specified for their home country) in order to save national expenses and to benefit from the contribution efforts of other actors instead (e.g., Barrett, 2005; Endres & Ohl, 2001). With expecting actors in a public good dilemma not to cooperate but to defect and to strive for the rational choice of free-riding, how can the provision of public goods nevertheless succeed? Or: How can behavior be influenced towards cooperation instead of defection? In order to guide behavioral decisions in dilemma

International Negotiations on Climate Change: Integrating Justice Psychology


situations into a predetermined direction, game theory focuses on the design of structural parameters: i.e. designing the rules of the game that determine the interplay of agents by posing incentives and sanctions to reach a sufficient and efficient rate of cooperation among the involved actors so that the outcome of the game is the socially optimal level of public good at stake. In the case of global climate protection this centers on: How should agreements and treaties be designed in terms of incentives and sanctions to motivate a critical number of actors to contribute to global climate protection (e.g., Beckenkamp, 2002, 2008; Endres & Ohl, 2002)? Looking at the worldwide efforts for climate protection, there is a subgroup of nations willing to contribute to the provision of the public good by international cooperation, e.g. the member states of Europe. On the other hand we find a subgroup of nations rejecting any international obligation to mitigate their national GHG emissions, e.g. the USA and China. How does this divergent picture of the world fit with the idea of the Homo economicus and the rational resolution of the global public good dilemma game? A rising amount of research demonstrates that the concept of Homo economicus often fails to explain the provision of the public good, like global climate protection, at the desired socially optimal level. In a consequence this triggers new research questions: First, are there other motives in effect than only maximizing the own benefit? Second, which factors determine the national benefit? And, third, are the rules of the game adequately captured by assuming a global public good dilemma nesting in international climate negotiations? Maximizing the own national benefit disregards benefits from climate protection in foreign countries. This means, for example, that the European countries would not care about impacts of GHG emissions respectively GHG emission reduction efforts in the developing part of the world. In consequence, European countries would not choose a cooperative level of emission reduction. Concerning the national benefit function, economic analyses showed that caring about the impact of global warming in foreign countries coming along with increased benefits in the home country does not solve the dilemma either. The reason is that, first, countries not caring about foreign impacts will counterbalance or even outweigh the cooperative contributions of caring countries; and second, that the socially optimal level of public good provision would be higher in a setting with caring nations than in the traditional setting where nations only take national considerations into account (e.g., Hoel, 1997). Looking at the rules of the game, economic analyses most prominently focused on the natural scientific interferences of GHG, i.e., to what extent the complete global diffusion of GHG emissions determines the behavior of the Homo economicus. These approaches entail shortcomings and this creates a need to broaden the perspective. Given that, we want to introduce the following reasoning: The description of the social dilemma itself, and with that the definition of the game, is not per se given by the natural scientific problem definition. Rather, it is based on the social perceptions of the global warming problem by the involved actors. They define and decide by themselves and maybe also negotiate with each other what constitutes the


H. Ittner and C. Ohl

problem – whether it is for instance the character of the pollutants or the character of international relationships. Therefore, it is not necessarily the natural science character of the global warming problem but its societal perception which defines the game each of them is willing to play. And this game, of course, needs not automatically be a pure public good game as assumed in economic literature. So, the crucial questions are: Which type of game do the actors in climate negotiations actually play? Is it a social dilemma game at all? Our approach, moreover, requires a critical reflection of the idea of man as Homo economicus. In general, it is the task of a political actor to consider the needs of the population in the home country and thus to act in accordance with socially optimal behavior. So why should they not be willing to do so in an international context, like international climate negotiations? Still open research questions are: What are the crucial conditions under which aspects of global welfare become as (or even more) important than national welfare considerations? And, on the behavioral level: Are there other important motives – next to national welfare considerations – influencing the behavior of actors? If so, this would imply a strong need for “revising” the traditional idea of man towards a pluralism of human motives. And assuming such a pluralism of motives: what are then the core objectives of a national welfare function of these decision makers? Are the functions comparable for different decision makers? Which type of game are they willing to play by setting their own rules in terms of incentives and sanctions by means of an international post-Kyoto agreement? In other words: What enhances cooperative behavior in such a complex setting?

Perspective of (Justice) Psychology In comparison to game theory, the perspective of psychology is very different. Traditional fields of psychology usually do not conceptualize political actors as abstract categories rather than as individuals or social groups representing these categories by fulfilling specific roles linked to these categories. The same holds true for the field of international climate negotiations. The crucial question is: who is negotiating? From a psychological point of view, these are not abstract nations but individuals embedded in several social groups and performing different roles including the core official role of representing the own nation respectively its interests. And this understanding of political actors brings us right to the main competencies of scientific psychology. Keeping that in mind, one can easily find rich and detailed psychological knowledge on a theoretical as well as on a practical level which is highly relevant for the main psychological issues and phenomena we face within international climate negotiations. For example, there is a huge amount of research on • Negotiations in general, e.g. on strategies and tactics, their context- and personspecific determinants as well as consequences (e.g., Brett, 2007; Nan,

International Negotiations on Climate Change: Integrating Justice Psychology


Druckman, & El Horr, 2009; Pillutla & Murnighan, 2003; Raiffa, 2002; Zartman, Druckman, Jensen, Pruitt, & Young, 1996), • Conflict management also in environmental conflicts, i.e. on identifying and dealing with conflicting interests of involved parties as well as on innovative approaches to handle conflicts, like mediation (e.g., Deutsch, Coleman, & Marcus, 2006; Mikula & Wenzel, 2000; Montada & Kals, 2007), • Social dilemmas – where we can find a substantial overlap of research questions with game theory. But, psychological research focuses on psychological variables in terms of determinants and consequences of cooperating behavior (e.g., Biel, 2000; Ostrom et al., 2002; Schroeder, Steel, Woodell, & Bembenek, 2003; Van Dijk & De Cremer, 2006).

Justice psychology A core variable across all the mentioned areas of psychological research relevant for international climate negotiations are perceived (in)justices. Psychological research on conflicts and social dilemmas points out impressively different psychological functions and a high impact of perceived (in)justices – for example on conflict perceptions, the dealing with conflicts as well as on the willingness to cooperate (e.g., Clayton, 2000; Kals, Maes, & Becker, 2001; Mikula & Wenzel, 2000; Montada, 2003; Montada & Kals, 2000; M€uller, Kals, & Maes, 2008; Stouten, De Cremer, & Van Dijk, 2006; Van Dijk & De Cremer, 2006; Van Prooijen, 2009). But also within experimental economics there is a continuously growing amount of research stressing the necessity to integrate justice as an additional parameter in utility functions. At the same time, we want to remark that this justice parameter usually is defined as a static, uniform variable often limited to the justice concept of equality (e.g., Bolton & Ockenfels, 2000; Fehr & G€achter, 2000; Lange & Vogt, 2003). And last but not least, perceived (in)justices are nowadays also omnipresent within the public and political discussions. Or, as Wolfgang Sachs put it already in 2001 – and which is still or even more up to date –: “justice must be seen as the real, decisive bottleneck of climate protection negotiations” (2001, p. 10). Perceived injustices must be realized as being key issues within global climate policy, which are always present and most probably entangled in all unresolved questions – often implicitly but in the meantime more and more explicitly put on the negotiation table. From the perspective of justice psychology, many crucial negotiation issues intertwined with justice concerns fit to the well-established main justice domains (e.g., Ittner & Montada, 2009; Montada, 2003): Distributive justice – or, how should costs and benefits of climate protection be distributed among nations worldwide? For example, in Copenhagen 2009 one of the core issues was once again the distribution of costs respectively the defining of binding commitments for reduction goals between industrialized countries, emerging nations and developing countries.


H. Ittner and C. Ohl

Procedural justice – or, how should the international negotiation process be designed, organized and implemented? Again in Copenhagen, aspects of procedural justice nearly caused an uproar of developing countries: Along the procedure to work out a final declaration, the draft was mainly negotiated and discussed by the most powerful “big players” (US, China, EU). This happened “behind closed doors” instead of, as usual, in several working groups to give every party a chance to participate. In consequence, most of the less powerful participants with the smallest amount of influence and voice anyhow were excluded from the determining discussions, though they are supposed to be the ones facing the most severe consequences of climate change. Retributive justice – or, how should free-riding behavior of (single) nations be dealt with? A legally binding agreement must also include possible sanctions against those nations who do not comply with negotiated and agreed climate protection measures and commitments. What kinds of sanctions are suitable? How should they be designed? Who is responsible and is given the power to watch over free-riding? All of these questions are not new at all but they have determined international climate negotiations from the very beginning and they still do so – in an implicit as well as explicit manner. And saying that, we want to draw the attention to one specific point: all efforts, discussions and negotiations to deal with these questions so far – politically as well as scientifically – look at the involved justice issues from a normative point of view. This inevitably leads to the search for the (one and only) just answer and solution. But, to find the normative just solution within such a complex social dilemma as global climate change protection is extremely difficult or even impossible – which is reflected in the well-known course of international climate negotiations over the past 20 years (e.g., Ohl & Ittner, 2009). Contrary to the traditional normative perspective, justice psychology represents a descriptive-empirical perspective focusing on subjective perceptions of justice (e.g., Kazemi & T€ ornblom, 2008; Montada, 2003; Opotow, 1990; Tyler, 2000). Consequently, from such a justice-psychological point of view there is a high variance – intrapersonal as well as interpersonal – of justice perceptions also within international climate negotiations. That is to say there are many different perceptions of distributive, procedural and retributive justice issues – some of them might overlap to some extent, whereas others seem to be mutually exclusive. But, supplementing the traditional normative point of view with this descriptive-empirical approach of justice perceptions can open up a whole new range of negotiable flexibility and thereby can dramatically “expand the pie”. Beyond doubt this also comes with new challenges, like dealing with even more complexity and an array of competing and insistently defended justice perceptions. In order to deal with these kinds of justice conflicts, psychologically oriented mediation might offer promising ways (e.g., Montada & Kals, 2007). In sum, both approaches – game theory and justice psychology – embody a very different focus, each of them accompanied with strengths and weaknesses. Roughly spoken, economics do not adequately take into account the plurality of motives, like for example justice concerns, whereas psychology misses a systematic embedding

International Negotiations on Climate Change: Integrating Justice Psychology


of the individual focus into a complex interdependent interaction system as well as into situational conditions. Given the complex challenge of international climate negotiations, the necessity becomes obvious to take advantage of the strength of each approach by integrating both of them.

International Climate Negotiations: an Interdisciplinary, Integrative Approach In future, an interdisciplinary, integrative approach is needed to closely intertwine the strength of both disciplinary approaches (see Fig. 1). The perspective of justice psychology offers an empirical – supplementary to the normative – analysis of the variety of individual motives for cooperation. Though we focus on the most prominent motives in this context, namely subjective justice motives and the motive of maximizing the own benefit, we do so basically against the background of an assumed pluralism of motives and goals in human behavior. The perspective of economics in turn allows applying methods of game theory to systematically analyze the obtained empirical data on a very complex level of interdependent actors and their cooperation-related behavioral decisions as well as situational constraints on a social and institutional level (cf. Ohl & Ittner, 2009). As already said in the beginning, the core research question we want to tackle with this integrative approach is: What are the determining factors for fostering and establishing global cooperation within international climate negotiations, i.e. individual behavioral cooperative decisions, in order to provide the public good of a global climate protection regime?

Fig. 1 Interdisciplinary, integrative approach by Ohl and Ittner (2009)


H. Ittner and C. Ohl

Methodological Steps The integrative character is also reflected in the proposed methodological design. It is based on two phases, both embracing several steps and multi-level analyses, which are in turn closely related to each other (cf. Ohl & Ittner, 2009). The first phase focuses on empirical analyses fed from a psychological perspective. These analyses refer to different levels of the decision-making process and make use of different methods and data sources with a varying range of standardization and a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches: Official documents of international climate negotiations. Their content is analyzed in terms of the empirical range of cooperative behavior. This is important as the variable of cooperative behavior decision itself as well as its dimension might be defined very differently among various actors. This has been so far widely neglected in research on cooperative behavior – usually it is taken for granted that all involved actors implicitly have the same understanding of what kind of behavioral decisions are experienced as cooperative, and which ones are experienced as non-cooperative. But within complex international negotiations this assumed consensus on the subjective definition of cooperation might not at all hold true across the different parties. Semi-standardized interviews with officially involved negotiation parties. One focus is again directed on the perception and subjective definition of cooperative behavioral decisions regarding the own behavior as well as salient behavioral decisions of other negotiation parties. A second focus aims at the salient perceptions and concepts of fairness on the domains of distributive, procedural, and retributive justice – again from two points of view, namely the own perspective as well as the perceived (and supposed) perspective of salient other parties. Standardized questionnaire with involved lobby groups. These are meant to provide another important perspective as well as a broader data base to analyze the impact of various motives on cooperative behavior, in which we still concentrate on justice and self-interest motives. The second phase aims to integrate these empirical results thereafter into gametheoretical modeling. But, in contrast to the traditional way of conceptualizing the problem of global climate change and providing a global climate protection regime, we developed an alternative, innovative approach in order to more adequately capture the (social) complexity of international climate negotiations. As already mentioned above, the currently used definition of the dilemma game that actors are facing in international climate negotiations is derived from the natural scientific problem definition, i.e. the public good character of global GHG emissions. We want to introduce a different perspective and argue that the definition of the game at stake is not at all pre-defined by the natural scientific character of the problem. Instead it is based on the involved players’ perceptions and interpretations of the (social) situation. With that the definition of the game becomes a substantial part of the negotiation process itself. Consequently, the game defined by social perceptions

International Negotiations on Climate Change: Integrating Justice Psychology


is not necessarily a public good game and due to that it is most probable that not all involved actors share the same definition of the game. One of the subjective perceptions of which we assume the involved actors use to define (more or less consciously) the game they are in are their subjective justice perceptions (e.g., Ohl & Ittner, 2009). So, what if for instance distributive fairness perceptions of the different parties define the game at stake? This would already lead to very different definitions of the game, e.g. • Equality principle (e.g., representing the reasoning of the US): cooperation of all or none – which calls for the game of stag hunt • Need principle (e.g., representing the reasoning of EU): some cooperate, some defect – which calls for the chicken game • Equity principle (e.g., representing the reasoning of Kyoto Protocol): contributions according to responsibilities and capabilities – which calls for no conflict game Consequently, we propose that the actors – possibly based on their justice perceptions – define the game they are in by themselves. And keeping in mind the proposed plurality of motives and goals, it is most probable that their behavioral decisions are not only based on the motive of maximizing their own benefit. Therefore, also their utility functions are supposed to be quite different from the rather inflexible ones traditionally assumed. To what extent the conceptualization of the utility function has to be revised and to what extent this might result in a higher probability of cooperation – these are questions which have to be answered empirically.

Outlook The interdisciplinary, integrative approach we proposed in this chapter is designed to support political decision making by giving insight into the motives of political actors in international climate negotiations and elaborating mechanisms that enhance cooperation among nations. It is grounded in empirical research on human behavior and stringent analytical analyses of the empirical data with methods of game theory. With the help of the empirically grounded framework we expect to derive practical political solutions for the design of a cooperationenhancing international treaty for global climate protection. In addition, our approach fosters further disciplinary development on a theoretical and empirical level with regard to the concept and determinants of cooperation and in particular regarding the complex interplay of perceived (in)justices and selfinterest and especially the differentiated impact of justice motives on cooperative behavior. But, even more importantly, this approach also allows another huge step towards the (in other areas already) successful and extremely fruitful combination and integration of psychological and economic theory and methods. With that it should be possible, in the medium term, to develop guidelines on a more abstract


H. Ittner and C. Ohl

level for a revised modeling and conceptualization of behavior models concerning particularly the utility function, the variety of motives, definition of constraints, etc. Furthermore, the application of this integrative approach is not limited to the area of international climate negotiations but rather can be applied to other global environmental policy issues (e.g., protection of biodiversity). And, finally, our approach serves and further calls for the strong necessity to critically reflect the idea of man on a conceptual level, i.e. Homo economicus versus a pluralism of motives and goals – and this based on jointly elaborated empirical findings.

References Barrett, S. (1997). Towards a theory of international environmental cooperation. In C. Carraro & D. Siniscalco (Eds.), New directions in the economic theory of the environment (pp. 239–280). Cambridge, UK: University Press. Barrett, S. (2005). Environment and statecraft. Oxford Scholarship Online: The strategy of environmental treaty-making. Beckenkamp, M. (2002). Sanktionen im Gemeingutdilemma [Sanctions in common pool resource dilemmas]. Weinheim, Germany: Beltz. Beckenkamp, M. (2008). Zur Kompatibilit€at von Konfliktstrukturen und Konfliktmanagement am Beispiel eines Muschelfischereikonflikts [About compatibility of conflict structure and conflict management as seen in a conflict with shellfishing]. Umweltpsychologie, 12(2), 123–139. Biel, A. (2000). Factors promoting cooperation in the laboratory, in common pool resource dilemmas, and in large-scale dilemmas. In M. Van Vugt, A. Biel, M. Snyder, & T. R. Tyler (Eds.), Cooperation in modern society: Promoting the welfare of communities, states, and organizations (pp. 25–41). London: Routledge. Bolton, G. E., & Ockenfels, A. (2000). ERC: A theory of equity, reciprocity, and competition. American Economic Review, 90(1), 166–193. Brett, J. M. (2007). Negotiating globally. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Buchholz, W., & Peters, W. (2005). A rawlsian approach to international cooperation. Kyklos, 58(1), 25–44. Casella, H., Delbosc, A., & de Perthuis, C. (2010). Cancun: Year one of the post-Copenhagen era (Climate Report No. 24). Arcueil, France: CDC Climate Research. Clayton, S. (2000). Models of justice in the environmental debate. Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), 459–474. Deutsch, M., Coleman, P. T., & Marcus, E. C. (2006). The handbook of conflict resolution. San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Dijk, V., & De Cremer, D. (2006). Tacit coordination and social dilemmas: On the importance of self-interest and fairness. In D. De Cremer, M. Zeelenberg, & J. K. Murnigham (Eds.), Social psychology and economics (pp. 141–154). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Endres, A., & Ohl, C. (2001). International environmental cooperation in the one shot prisoners’ dilemma. Zeitschrift f€ ur Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, 121, 1–26. Endres, A., & Ohl, C. (2002). Introducing “cooperative push”: How inefficient environmental policy (sometimes!) protects the global commons better. Public Choice, 111, 285–302. Fehr, E., & G€achter, S. (2000). Fairness and retaliation: The economics of reciprocity. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14(3), 159–181. Finus, M. (2001). Game theory and international environmental cooperation. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

International Negotiations on Climate Change: Integrating Justice Psychology


Hoel, M. (1997). How should international greenhouse gas agreements be designed? In P. Dasgupta, K.-G. M€aler, & A. Vercelli (Eds.), The economics of transnational commons (pp. 172–191). Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2007). Climate change 2007: Synthesis report. Geneva, Italy: IPCC. Ittner, H., & Montada, L. (2009). Gerechtigkeit und Umweltpolitik [Justice and environmental policy]. Umweltpsychologie, 13(1), 35–51. Kals, E., Maes, J., & Becker, R. (2001). The overestimated impact of self-interest and the underestimated impact of justice motives. Trames. Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences, 5, 269–287. Kazemi, A., & T€ornblom, K. (2008). Social psychology of justice: Origins, central issues, recent developments, and future directions. Nordic Psychology, 60(3), 209–234. Lange, A., & Vogt, C. (2003). Cooperation in international environmental negotiations due to a preference for equity. Journal of Public Economics, 87(9/10), 2049–2067. Mikula, G., & Wenzel, M. (2000). Justice and social conflict. International Journal of Psychology, 35(2), 126–135. Montada, L. (2003). Justice, equity and fairness in human relations. In I. Weiner (Ed.), Handbook of psychology (Vol. 5, pp. 537–568). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Montada, L., & Kals, E. (2000). Political implications of psychological research on ecological justice and proenvironmental behaviour. International Journal of Psychology, 35(2), 168–176. Montada, L., & Kals, E. (2007). Mediation. Ein Lehrbuch auf psychologischer Grundlage [Mediation. A textbook based on psychology]. Weinheim, Germany: Beltz. M€ uller, M. M., Kals, E., & Maes, J. (2008). Fairness, self-interest, and cooperation in a real-life conflict. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38(3), 684–704. Nan, S. A., Druckman, D., & El Horr, J. (2009). Unofficial international conflict resolution: Is there a track 1½? Are there best practices? Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 27(1), 65–82. Oberth€ur, S., & Ott, H. E. (1999). The kyoto protocol: International climate policy for the twentyfirst century. Berlin, Germany: Springer. Ohl, C. (2003). Staatliche Umweltregime und transnationales Risikomanagement [Governmental environment regimes and transnational risk management]. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Campus. Ohl, C., & Ittner, H. (2009). Psychologische Gerechtigkeitsforschung und spieltheoretische Umwelt€okonomie – eine interdisziplin€are Sicht auf die Verhandlungen zum Klimaschutz [Psychological justice research and environmental economy based on game theory – an interdisciplinary view on the negotiations on climate protection]. Umweltpsychologie, 13(1), 68–83. Opotow, S. (1990). Moral exclusion and injustice: An introduction. Journal of Social Issues, 46(1), 1–20. Ostrom, E., Dietz, T., Dolsˇak, N., Stern, P. C., Stonich, S., & Weber, E. (Eds.). (2002). The drama of the commons. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Pillutla, M. M., & Murnighan, J. K. (2003). Fairness in bargaining. Social Justice Research, 16(3), 241–262. Raiffa, H. (2002). Negotiation analysis: The science and art of collaborative decision making. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Sachs, W. (2001). Das Kyoto-Protokoll. Lohnt sich seine Rettung? [The Kyoto protocol. Is it worth saving?] Bl€ atter f€ ur deutsche und internationale Politik. http://www.blaetter. de/archiv/jahrgaenge/2001/juli/das-kyoto-protokoll-lohnt-sich-eine-rettung. Retrieved on 10 November 2010 Schroeder, D. A., Steel, J. E., Woodell, A. J., & Bembenek, A. F. (2003). Justice within social dilemmas. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 7(4), 374–387. Stouten, J., De Cremer, D., & Van Dijk, E. (2006). Violating equality in social dilemmas: emotional and retributive reactions as a function of trust, attribution, and honesty. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(7), 894–906.


H. Ittner and C. Ohl

Trust, C. (2005). The climate change challenge. London: Carbon Trust. Tyler, T. R. (2000). Social Justice: Outcome and procedure. International Journal of Psychology, 35(2), 117–125. Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2009). Procedural justice as autonomy regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(6), 1166–1180. Zartman, I. W., Druckman, D., Jensen, L., Pruitt, D. G., & Young, P. (1996). Negotiation as a search for justice. International Negotiation, 1, 79–98.

Justice and Environmental Decision Making Geoffrey J. Syme

Abstract As the rate of species extinction increases, the threats from climate change become more evident and our population grows there is an increasing knowledge of our dependence on the ecosystem services that underpin human social welfare and the world economy. It is also clear that demand for natural resources such as water and fossil fuels is problematic as access to water becomes highly competitive and carbon emissions becomes intense. It is evident that such challenges require a much better understanding of how the application of environmental ethics and considerations of the social justice can assist in resolving potential conflict. This chapter describes how social psychological theory and the understanding of lay ethics can provide a basis for sharing. The concepts of equity, distributive justice, procedural and interactive justice and fairness are introduced. The significance of these for resource allocation decisions is explained. Water resources management and climate change are used to provide examples. The chapter discusses why justice issues are important in mitigating self interest in decision making and the limitations of policy makers relying entirely on market mechanisms to allocate natural resources.

Introduction As the rate of species extinction increases, the threats from climate change become more evident and our population grows there is an increasing knowledge of our dependence on the ecosystem services that underpin human social welfare and the world economy. It is also clear that demand for natural resources such as water and fossil fuels is problematic as access to water becomes highly competitive and carbon emissions become an issue of international tension. The potential for

G.J. Syme (*) Centre of Planning, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia e-mail: [email protected] E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_17, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



G.J. Syme

conflict is likely to be exacerbated by climate change as land use changes are forced by lower rainfall and regional populations begin to change in both number and composition as a result. In the longer term and at an international level environmentally forced migration from issues such as rising sea levels are likely to pose worldwide challenges on a planet already struggling with refugees from conflict. More severe climatic conditions are also likely to have considerable impacts on biodiversity on the planet with consequent increased human vulnerability. It is evident that such challenges require a much better understanding of how the application of environmental ethics and considerations of the social justice can assist in resolving potential conflict. Lastly, it is evident that many cultures whether developed or undeveloped will have to award the environment rights which demand that its integrity is treated with respect. By being clear about what our justice principles are and by paying attention to how our formal and informal institutions function in endeavouring to deliver it, we have more of a chance of creating adaptive learning and resilience at local, regional, and international levels and thus avoiding at least some of the potential conflict. The terms equity and justice are ubiquitous in discussions between competing interests. For example, natural resources legislation (especially water legislation) often has the aim of “equitably” allocating the resource among users or uses. When it comes to the environment, the term environmental justice is often used as a justification for restoring ecosystems. Environmental justice is also a term used when differential exposure to pollution or other environmental hazards is exhibited for differing groups (Schroeder, Martin, Bradley, & Sen, 2008). Unfortunately, in public documents and argumentation, the terms equity and justice are not clearly defined and sometimes seem to indicate an idiosyncratic notion of what a person or an organisation consider to be the case from their particular viewpoint. The public often tend to use the terms equity or justice when they have felt that they have been treated inequitably or unjustly. In other words, both concepts are invoked in their perceived absence. The terms fairness and equality are treated similarly. For this reason, it is important that there is some theoretically based literature that can provide rigorous meaning to these terms but also provide a basis on which they can be applied in the real world of decision making. There have been many excellent philosophical approaches to justice and equity and their significance for allocation of resources and the structure of decision making to make these decisions (e.g., Sen, 2009; Rawls, 1971; Zajac, 1996). There have also been many treatises about the rights of the environment and how they may be negotiated including our responsibility to future generations (e.g., Bryson, 2008). Wenz (1988) provides a sweeping and user friendly review of the variety of philosophical approaches that have been taken when considering sharing among humans and between humans and the environment. In this chapter, however, we will focus primarily on the empirical social psychological literature which attempts to understand and apply these understandings to the ways in which justice actually expresses itself in human decision making and behaviour associated with environmental management and resource allocation. This chapter briefly describes how the key concepts of social psychological theory

Justice and Environmental Decision Making


and the understanding of lay ethics can provide a basis for sharing among humans and between humans and the environment. It uses examples relating to water resources management to demonstrate how these principles combined with wider utilitarian preferences can assist with policy making. The chapter concludes with a brief examination of the theoretical and pragmatic challenges facing justice researchers if they are to contribute to resilient communities and conflict management in the long term.

Equity The social psychological literature began with research based on three primary concepts; equity and procedural and distributive justice. Equity seems to have the largest literature and generally follows the formulation of Rasinski (1987) as having two components “proportionality” and “equality.” Thus, in environmental terms proportionality can be reflected, for example, in the effort and investment made to utilise land and water resources being reflected in allocation. Simply put, those who have invested in an extensive irrigation system and have a record in high production because of carefully planned husbandry deserve more water in a shortage than those who have simply flooded their crops and “hoped for the best.” Alternatively, equality suggests that each entity (both human and environmental) should have equal opportunity to access an adequate amount of water for basic purposes. These components are both used in individual or community decision making with different emphases for differing problems. For example, in a groundwater reallocation problem where water entitlements were to be diminished the community arrived at a set of equity criteria that included “protection of the family farm” (enough water to be given to small operators to survive) but also protection of the higher users who had invested heavily in infrastructure by avoiding cutting them back proportionally more than other groups. The equality dimension is reflected in equal opportunity to a certain amount of water (or a social allocation). The exact amount of water that should be allocated to everyone is often determined on a needs basis. Generally, for example, it is interpreted in terms of the amount of clean water that will be needed to allow basic human requirements for health and food preparation and these basic needs are sometimes referred to as aspirational rights in international documents (e.g., Oda & Toyama, 2002). In agricultural terms the same concept could be related to adequate supply of food in some cultures or basic income in others. The definition of environmental needs is more difficult to define and consequently environmental rights are equally problematic. For example, how much land or water should be maintained as “pristine” or conserved is the basis of enduring public arguments about environmental needs and rights. These are even more difficult deliberations when the environment has already been highly modified through urban development, agriculture or mining.


G.J. Syme

The proportionality principle is reflected in the maintenance of relatively higher water use because of investment and effort and productivity (Syme, Nancarrow, & McCreddin, 1999). It may be noted that a third concept of accountability is significant in interpreting when and how the dimension of proportionality is used in peoples’ equity decision making (Johansson-Stedman & Konow, 2010). Accountability refers to the joint concepts of proportionality and responsibility. Responsibility simply refers to the degree of control a person has over the outcome. Thus, if the person or group can control a positive outcome from water use by extra measures to protect the environment and\or productivity they are considered accountable and therefore the effort is proportionally rewarded. On the other hand, if the improved water management is outside their control through environmental or economic constraint the principle of equality seems to be invoked.

Procedural Justice The concept of procedural justice gained prominence with the publication of Lind and Tyler’s (1988) volume “The Social Psychology of Procedural Justice” It has most commonly been applied to issues relating to non environmental problems but it has a great relevance to natural resource issues where it is relatively neglected. Procedural justice research concentrates on the characteristics of a decision making process which make it seem just to people vulnerable to the consequences. Procedural justice identifies and measures generalisable dimensions of interaction between the decision makers and stakeholders such as ‘voice’ (or the feeling that one has had an influence on decision making), and in the case of wider public input into environmental decision making the “representativeness” of those involved in the program. There are also a number of other dimensions. A review of procedural justice concepts and how they may relate to procedural justice in natural resource decisions is provided by Lawrence, Daniels, and Stankey (1997). The importance of procedurally just decision making in enhancing the role of science in climate adaptation is described by Paavola (2008). This author indicates the need for community influence on setting the priorities for scientific research to assist in just allocation of costs, benefits and risks of climate adaptation strategies. The major hypothesis of procedural justice is that if it is demonstrated in a decision making process then the outcome is more likely to be accepted by those affected. To some extent, this hypothesis has been supported by environmentally relevant research but the relationship may not a simple one. Oberholzer-Gee, Bohnet, and Frey (1997) found a strong association between fairness of procedurally just procedures (incorporating respect, impartiality, adequate information consent, and fairness) on acceptance of siting of nuclear facilities in Sweden. Lauber and Knuth (1999) found in regard to public participation in moose management that the presence of voice (or evidence that people had the chance to have a say and were listened to), equal opportunity for people to participate, and the adequate representation of interested parties did not have a

Justice and Environmental Decision Making


relationship with perceptions of procedural justice that appeared to influence the acceptance of the moose management policy, as hypothesised by procedural justice theory. Nevertheless, the procedural justice issues that did correlate with overall support for the decision outcome were the receptivity of the management agency, evidence that the public involvement program did influence decision makers, the perceived degree of knowledge of the managing agency and feeling of improved relationships between the community, stakeholder groups, and the agency. Syme and Nancarrow (2002) evaluated procedural justice characteristics of a large scale wastewater public involvement program. They measured participants’ perceptions of the ease with which they could participate, the sufficiency of the information given to them, the degree of opportunity they felt they had to contribute, the adequacy of the variety of opinions expressed, the perceived responsiveness of the water authority conducting the program, the likelihood that the water authority would make the best decision (measured during the process), and whether the best decision was made after the process has been completed. While the relationship between the acceptance of outcome of the program and perceptions of procedural justice were somewhat equivocal there was a measurable relationship between positive perceptions of procedural justice from the program and commitment to participating with the water authority in the future. Given that trust in environmental agencies has been shown to relate to acceptance of outcomes (Edelenbos & Klijn, 2007) and that trust is built up by sense of community and profitable interactions with the agency, this relationship between procedural justice and commitment is important. As has been observed by several authors environmental management decisions don’t result in a rational one off solution as originally proposed by the scientific community they are made on an ongoing basis around what is currently the best current estimate of a “solution” and consist of values and emotions as well as logic (Cortner & Shannon, 1993). Thus adaptive learning and reframing of problems are integral to environmental decision making and must incorporate community input and preference. To achieve this, agencies need commitment from the community and trust in their processes. Some authors separate procedural justice issues into two components. These are “procedural justice” which describes the structure and organisation of the decision making process and “interactional justice” which pertains to the way in which the person has been treated in terms of courtesy and respect (Bies, 2005). Thus the role of “improved relationships” through public involvement encouraging acceptance of outcome in the Lauber and Knuth (1999) public involvement program seems a good example of what is meant by the significance of interactional justice. While there is some contention as to whether such an interactional justice categorisation is justified it would seem that it is worthy of investigation in the environmental justice context. While there has been little formal research as to the structure and significance of the idea of interactive justice it would seem important in terms of justice perceptions. This is particularly the case in the context of perceived past injustices affecting future participation. We have encountered several examples of an agency’s public involvement program being spurned by the community because of the past “rude” behaviour of individual agency employees.


G.J. Syme

Finally, procedural justice has a central role in terms of considering the “rights” and the representation of the environment in public discussion and decision making. The question is often posed as to who represents the environment’s interests (Bryson, 2008). There is obviously no one group “anointed” in this regard. Scientists have access to knowledge which is an important component of achieving procedural justice and may assist in assessing environmental needs. For example, scientists can inform us about the thresholds of environmental change that will threaten ecosystem integrity. Nevertheless scientists have no particular mandate in regard to values underpinning trade-off decisions that define what is ultimately assigned for environmental conservation. This means we need to be aware of the nature of the values we are trading off to ensure that we are aware of which values are represented in the final decision. Without such public awareness, the justice considerations are often tacit and are not necessarily representative of either the values of the community or the fundamental needs of the environment. The only way the justice of sharing resources with the environment can be adequately interpreted is through procedurally just processes which create overt public discussion by a wide range of interests. How this is accomplished requires an expanded research and evaluation effort into publicly accountable and procedurally just decision making processes.

Distributive Justice Distributive justice as a concept is related to the evaluation as to whether an outcome was “just” in terms of the distribution of a resource between individuals. In this way equity and distributive justice are closely related concepts as the dimensions of equity seem to be significant in making distributive justice decisions. It is clear, however, that it is not just the two dimensions associated with equity that are used when environmental justice evaluations are made by individuals. There are many other approaches that have been applied over the centuries in the development of our moral philosophies. These can vary from the simplest, that of virtue theory, which claims that rich people are rich because they are virtuous (therefore rich people should be allocated more land and water than poor people), through models of sharing such as Kant’s moral imperative (e.g., people at the top of a watershed should ensure that they do not take water in a manner that will negatively affect people at the bottom), various models associated with rights (e.g., I believe the environment should have the same rights as people) through to a variety of utilitarian philosophies associated with economic means for re-allocating water (Wenz, 1988). Syme and Nancarrow (1997) were able to show that many of these philosophies were held intuitively by the Australian public when expressing their opinion of environmental policy. Syme et al. (1999) and subsequent case studies were able to show that these ethical positions nominated by stakeholders in environmental decision making could be measured and use to assess the overall distributive justice and “fairness” of particular actions that change access to the natural environment.

Justice and Environmental Decision Making


Many of the philosophies of allocation present in the academic literature were voiced in simple language by water users. A sample of the attitudinal questions derived from these lay philosophies can be seen in Table 1. Table 1 Measuring environmental ethics The following outlines the range of universal fairness principles associated with water allocation that have been developed through a research program involving seven studies of stakeholders throughout Australia. Some are associated with more specific allocation scenarios, such as allocation for environmental flows, or the allocation of groundwater. Respondents rate their degree of agreement on a five point scale, from 1 ¼ strongly agree to 5 ¼ strongly disagree. • All sections of the community have a right to have a say on water allocation. • You can’t really solve water sharing problems by analysing the costs and benefits in dollars. • Everyone should recognise that they may have to make some personal sacrifices if we are going to have effective planning. • If the decision making process is fair, people should accept the final allocation decisions. • If water is conserved for environmental reasons, environmental agencies should be forced to pay for it in the same way as irrigators and urban users. • In water allocation, everyone should be treated equally. • It would be highly unfair to take water away from those who already have allocations. • Priority for water should be given to those who need it to make a living. • Regardless of economic consequences, water should be allocated to minimise conflict in the community. • Since the environment was the original “user” of water, it should always have higher priority than other possible users. • All water should be put on the market and sold to those who will pay most, regardless of what it is used for. • Special water allocations should be made to achieve environmental health even if it reduces the profits of local businesses. • Water should be allocated for long term sustainability even if it reduces the short term profits of local businesses. • The government doesn’t need to be involved in allocating water. • The natural environment has the same rights to water as people have. • If new water allocation arrangements affect people’s livelihoods, they should receive compensation. • The only role for state government in water management should be a supervisory one. • There are no general rules about how to share water, it depends on the situation. • There isn’t time to wait for exact environmental knowledge, we need to act now. • Water allocations should be made to maximise the overall economic income of a community. • Water allocations should be set by experts alone. • Water can only be allocated for human use after the basic needs of the environment have been satisfied. • Water has a value other than its dollar value. • Water is owned by everyone and therefore it should be managed for the overall public good. • When it comes to water allocation, the environment is a secondary consideration to people. • While some parts of the natural environment are valuable and should be preserved through water allocation, some are not so valuable and can be let go. • Landholders have the right to use groundwater under their land as they see fit. • Groundwater under land is naturally the property of the landholder. • Saving water for the future is more important than making money now. • Irrigators should only be allocated water if they can show it is being used efficiently on their properties. • Those who have had water allocations in the past have a greater right to water than newcomers. • Water should only be allocated to those who work hardest to use it most productively. • Public involvement should not be used to make decisions in water allocation because people are selfish. • Those upstream have a moral responsibility to look after the interests of those downstream. • Water is a community resource which is only “lent” to users.


G.J. Syme

Distributive justice has been found to correlate positively with procedural justice in a number of studies although as stated earlier there have been relatively few of these for environmental decision making. But, because of this relationship one formulation of fairness theory the “fairness heuristic” was developed (e.g., Syme, Nancarrow, & McCreddin, 1998; Van den Bos, Lind, Vermunt, & Wilke, 1997) which combined the two as an ongoing interactive system.

Fairness According to Peterson (1994, p. 99), “once an impression of fairness has been produced it becomes extremely resistant to change....because it provides a cognitively available summary judgment in lieu of a more complicated analysis of policy each time they are asked”. Reliance on fairness heuristics are likely to occur in situations which are ongoing; where there is unlikely to be a clear-cut end point; and when an individual’s knowledge is incomplete. Environmental allocation issues are typical of such situations. In addition, environmental issues are replete with examples of framing of perceptions of fairness differently (e.g., Messick, 1993), according to whether one is considering the acceptability of decisions in general or disinterested terms or specifically where the impact is likely to impact personally or locally. These have been termed universal justice or situational justice respectively (Syme et al., 1999). Alternative parallel concepts are macrojustice (group level) and microjustice (individual level) (Clayton, 1994). An example of a macro-justice principle would be “we should protect our ecosystems for the next generation”. A micro-justice would be “I should be compensated by the government if my water allocation is to be taken away for ecosystem benefit.” Micro-justice has often been associated with a fairness bias in that people tend to view fairness judgments from a self interested perspective. For example, Lange, Loschel, Vogt, and Zeigler (2010) found that people in different geographic regions generally favour rules that impose lower costs on their regions and higher costs by implication on other regions. This is perhaps consistent with literature which suggests that people will rationalise their own contribution to water conservation or any other environmental problem as they see themselves as being naturally more responsible than other members of the community (Tyler & Blader, 2000). This, of course, may not be the only motivation but it is evident that people construct fairness judgements on the basis of arguments from their own viewpoint to justify their own positions. For example, an argument may be “compared to rich people I use much less water and energy so they should take responsibility for taking a higher proportion of savings than me.” This argumentation is at the basis of much of the relative deprivation literature (D’Ambrosio & Frick, 2007; Major, 1994) in which people choose to compare with others who they consider relevant to their own position and compare their treatment and resource allocation with them. Since there is a tendency to view the other as less responsible than oneself or one’s own group a fairness bias towards oneself and one’s own group is often observed and

Justice and Environmental Decision Making


arguments about fairness are constructed accordingly (Clayton & Opotow, 2003; Tyler & Blader, 2000). Presumably, this bias is countered in public policy by the dispassionate universal fairness principles that are applied by decision makers in their disinterested role as public servants or (hopefully) politicians’ judgments in relation to the overall “public good.” Bias should also be tempered through well designed public involvement programs that ensure that these universal principles are met. Syme et al. (1999), for example, have collected universal fairness principles in regard to water allocation from a community and then matched specific approaches to these. The universal principles did have some variability among the community although there were many similarities which may be expected in any culture. By mapping the range of universal principles to the individual solutions, the inclusiveness of the components of the water allocation policy measures could be demonstrated both to the decision makers and to the wider community. This acted to allow situational or group bias but curbed its excessive implementation from a public interest viewpoint. Nevertheless, fairness bias needs to be recognised and its contribution to fairness judgments identified. It is not surprising from the discussion so far that Wilke (1991) in his review of resource allocation gaming experiments identified three factors governing the people’s allocation of resources. These are Greed, Efficiency, and Fairness. Therefore, the contribution of justice or fairness to overall decision making needs to be interpreted in association with the self interest motive and the efficient use of resources (see also Eek & Bies, 2003). Self interest has been commonly studied as the source of motivation in allocation games and has been demonstrated as a consistent and powerful motivator of sharing behaviour. Sometimes, however, the significance of the variable has been overemphasised at individual, social and cultural levels (Miller, 1999). Concentration by policy makers on the self interest motive in environmental decision making has created a uni-dimensional view of human character and the devaluing of prosocial motivation in human and environmental affairs (Montada, 1998). This has, at its extreme, led to national policies which under value human concerns for long term sustainability and the need for public policy to meet those concerns. The inclusion of wider lay ethics in the design and encouragement of public discussion needs to be facilitated by government to give a more balanced approach to allocation decisions from the “fairness” perspective. Finally, the concept of efficiency has an economic legacy in order to maximise overall wealth from the resources available. But there is a broader way in which to consider efficiency and that is in a moral or ethical way (Syme et al., 1999). That is, there is a universal ethical principle that natural resources should not be wasted when there are alternatives to use less. This is combined with the accountability component of equity when considering support for policies when resources are being allocated between people and between people and the environment. Examples of this have been shown in Australia by farmers being prepared to take significant water away from irrigators in their community who had not invested in modern water efficient irrigation technology when they can afford to. The same


G.J. Syme

approach has been taken in the other direction when farmers who have criticised the return of water to the environment on the basis of bulk “environmental allocations” which do not demonstrate specific ecological outcomes for the amount of water allocated. That is, scientists are not behaving accountably by failing to use their knowledge to achieve efficient environmental outcomes. Often because of the difficulty of achieving the knowledge to provide specific answers to the environmental outcomes intractable arguments have occurred between conservationists and irrigators worldwide.

Discussion In this chapter, the fundamental concepts of social justice and applied ethical research have been briefly described. The concepts of equity, interactional, procedural, and distributive justice, fairness, environmental ethics, need, and accountability and the potential for bias when attempting to create “just” environmental decision making have been introduced. It must be emphasised, however, that there is significant overlap between the concepts and sometimes many are used interchangeably especially in the area of environmental conflict (Nancarrow & Syme, 2001). This need not be of undue concern as they make evident that there is a need for greater rigour amongst environmental decision makers when considering the justice inherent in their deliberations. Most water (and other environmental) Acts and policies currently use all the terms introduced here without definition, which in the heat of debate make them almost meaningless. Without systematic conceptual development coupled with empirical research and evaluation negotiations in relation to environmental justice will be based on the protests of those who feel that they have been unjustly treated. Justice issues are noticed because of the absence rather than the presence of justice. This forces decision makers to play “catch up” in regard to understanding the nature of community values and how to match the macro and micro justice concerns to attempt to minimise “bias.” This is often very difficult to do as trust and commitment by the community have become eroded and a conflict based model of negotiation becomes adopted (Van den Bos, Vermunt, & Wilke, 1997). This can have two unfortunate effects. The first relates to the quality of interaction within the community and between the decision makers and the community. The second relates to the government’s tendency to fall back on the self interest motive. The first effect results from the existence of group identity whereby each stakeholder or interest group sees themselves more favourably than others as stewards of the resource and therefore tends to think it is more “equitable” that their needs are met. Thus conflict can result which tends to inhibit macro justice responses from emerging as appropriate fairness or justice criteria for discussion. This tendency is often emphasised by the use of “stakeholder” based community advisory committees whereby individual members represent the interests of their group. In these cases, change from the status quo can become difficult as

Justice and Environmental Decision Making


representative members can find it difficult to report back to their constituency that they have compromised. The decision makers charged with retrospectively dealing with “injustice” and community conflict have a tendency to label the community response with the self interested “Not in My Back Yard” badge (Guidotti & Abercrombie, 2008) and either become conservative and avoid change or ignore the public’s input and maintain their original position. In this case, the potential input of local environmental knowledge is not used (a procedurally unjust outcome in itself) and the advantages of incorporating such knowledge to improve decision making forgone (Harstone, Failing, & Gregory, 2007). The second effect at a government level is often to step back from the conflict and rely on the single dimension utilitarian (or greed) model of people. In this case “markets” for water or carbon can be put in place and the “justice free” market place can operate to provide the highest value from land or water use. This is seen to avoid the prospect of the government “playing favourites.” Apart from the research described in this chapter, demonstrating that such a model is too simplistic, there becomes a necessity for the government to develop rules for the market because of environmental constraints (e.g., you can’t sell and transport groundwater freely if it feeds river flow upon which others depend without social and environmental ramifications). In developing these market rules, there is a need to consider the justice issues which if not considered carefully will exacerbate conflict. At its worst an untrammelled environmental market would result in those having most money using most of the resource which would essentially return us to the age old virtue theory. The purpose of this discussion is to demonstrate that, rather than be caught in the negative role of “back filling” justice, it is much better to develop our understanding of the justice issues summarised in this chapter to proactively create models of justice and decision making processes that can deliver them. While still in its relative infancy, the conceptual development in social justice theory and its amenability to empirical measurement and managing uncertainty (Van den Bos & Lind, 2002) can help to move us to that position. There will never be “the” solution to any environmental problem it will involve incremental adaptation and innovative policies from decision makers involved with adaptive learning in concert with the community. While justice is not the only criteria for acceptable decisions (Nancarrow & Syme, 2001), to maintain the commitment and involvement of the community in the long term will require tangible evidence that justice can be seen to be done.

References Bies, R. J. (2005). Are procedural justice and interactional justice conceptually distinct? In J. Greenberg & R. Cropanzo (Eds.), Handbook of organizational justice (pp. 89–118). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Bryson, K. A. (2008). Negotiating environmental rights. Ethics, Place and Environment, 11(3), 351–366.


G.J. Syme

Clayton, S. (1994). Appeals to justice in the environmental debate. Journal of Social Issues, 50(30), 13–28. Clayton, S., & Opotow, S. (2003). Justice and identity: Changing perspectives on what is fair. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 7, 298–310. Cortner, H. J., & Shannon, M. A. (1993). Embedding public participation in its political context. Journal of Forestry, 91(7), 14–16. D’Ambrosio, C., & Frick, J. R. (2007). Income satisfaction and relative deprivation: An empirical link. Social Indicators Research, 81, 497–519. Edelenbos, J., & Klijn, E.-H. (2007). Trust in complex decision-making systems: A theoretical and empirical exploration. Administration and Society, 39, 25–50. Eek, D., & Bies, A. (2003). The interplay between greed efficiency, and fairness in public-goods dilemmas. Social Justice Research, 16(3), 195–215. Guidotti, T. L., & Abercrombie, S. (2008). Aurum: A case study in the politics of NIMBY. Waste Management and Research, 26, 582–588. Harstone, M., Failing, L., & Gregory, R. (2007). Integrating science and local knowledge in environmental risk management. Ecological Economics, 64, 47–60. Johansson-Stedman, O., & Konow, J. (2010). Fair air: Distributive justice and environmental economics. Environmental and Resource Economics, 46, 147–168. Lange, A., Loschel, A., Vogt, C., & Zeigler, A. (2010). On the self serving use of equity in international climate negotiations. European Economic Review, 54, 359–375. Lauber, T. B., & Knuth, B. A. (1999). Measuring fairness in citizen participation: A case study of moose management. Society and Natural Resources, 11, 19–37. Lawrence, R. L., Daniels, S. E., & Stankey, G. H. (1997). Procedural justice and public involvement in natural resources decision making. Society and Natural Resources, 10, 577–589. Lind, E. A., & Tyler, T. (1988). The social psychology of procedural justice. New York: Plenum. Major, B. (1994). From social inequity to personal entitlement: The role of social comparisons, legitimcay appraisals, and group membership. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 26, 293–355. Messick, D. M. (1993). Equality as a decision heuristic. In B. A. Mellers & J. Baron (Eds.), Psychological perspectives on justice theory and applications (pp. 11–31). New York: Academic. Miller, D. T. (1999). The norm of self interest. American Psychologist, 54, 1053–1060. Montada, L. (1998). Justice: Just a rational choice? Social Justice Research, 12, 81–101. Nancarrow, B. E., & Syme, G. J. (2001). Challenges in implementing justice research in the allocation of natural resources. Social Justice Research, 14(4), 441–452. Oberholzer-Gee, F., Bohnet, I., & Frey, B. (1997). Fairness and competence in democratic decisions. Public Choice, 91(1), 89–105. Oda, H., & Toyama, M. (2002). The third world water forum: To translate vision into actions and commitments. Hydrological Processes, 16, 2067–2077. Paavola, J. (2008). Science and social justice in the governance of adaptation to climate change. Environmental Politics, 17(4), 644–659. Peterson, R. S. (1994). The role of values in predicting fairness judgments and the support of affirmative action. Journal of Social Issues, 50(4), 95–115. Rasinski, K. A. (1987). What’s fair or is it? Values differences underlying public views about social justice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(4), 201–211. Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Schroeder, R., Martin, K. S., Bradley, W., & Sen, D. (2008). Third world environmental justice. Society and Natural Resources, 21, 547–555. Sen, A. (2009). The idea of justice. London: Allen Lane. Syme, G. J., & Nancarrow, B. E. (1997). The determinants of the perception of fairness in the allocation of water to multiple uses. Water Resources Research, 32, 2143–2152. Syme, G. J., & Nancarrow, B. E. (2002). Evaluation of public involvement programs: Measuring justice and process criteria. Water, 29(40), 18–24.

Justice and Environmental Decision Making


Syme, G. J., Nancarrow, B. E., & McCreddin, J. A. (1998, May). If water means wealth – how should we share it? In Water is gold (pp. 23–32). Paper presented at the Proceedings of the Irrigation Association of Australia 1998 National Conference and Exhibition, Brisbane, Australia. Syme, G. J., Nancarrow, B. E., & McCreddin, J. A. (1999). Defining components of fairness in the allocation of water to environmental and human uses. Journal of Environmental Management, 57, 51–70. Tyler, T., & Blader, S. L. (2000). Cooperation in groups. The group engagement model: Procedural justice, social identity and behavioral engagement. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press. Van den Bos, K., & Lind, E. A. (2002). Uncertainty management by fairness judgments. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 34, 1060. Van den Bos, K., Lind, E. A., Vermunt, R., & Wilke, H. A. M. (1997). How do I judge my outcome when I do not know the outcome of others? The psychology of the fair process effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 1034–1046. Van den Bos, K., Vermunt, R., & Wilke, H. A. M. (1997). Procedural and distributive justice: What is fair depends more on what comes first than on what comes next. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 95–104. Wenz, P. S. (1988). Environmental justice. Albany NY: State University of New York. Wilke, H. A. M. (1991). Greed, efficiency and fairness in resource management situations. European Review of Social Psychology, 2, 165–187. Zajac, E. E. (1996). Political economy of fairness. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


Social Conflicts on a Macro-Level


Justice by Agreement: Constitutional Economics and its Cultural Challenge Nils Goldschmidt and Alexander Lenger

Abstract The paper highlights the question: how does a cultural theory of economics contribute to a better understanding in respect to the conflict between the prevailing notions of justice and the principles of a modern market economy? For this purpose, the relationship between justice and efficiency is first analyzed from the perspective of modern constitutional economics. On the basis of the criticism of the concept of social justice, presented by Friedrich August von Hayek, we then demonstrate that the fundamental tension between justice and economic efficiency stems from cultural conditions. A cultural perspective helps broaden the reflections on that issue and thus solve the conflict between justice and efficiency. Thus, it will be demonstrated that, transcending Hayek, it is necessary to expand the concept of a more complex homo culturalis in order to deal with the “spheres” of justice and efficiency in a comprehensive way.

Introduction From the perspective of mainstream economics (especially neoclassical economics) a fundamental conflict between economic efficiency and social justice is frequently identified. Since Arthur Okun (1975) this conflict has commonly been known as “the big tradeoff between efficiency and equity”. In his now famous book Okun argues: The contrasts among American families in living standards and in material wealth reflect a system of rewards and penalties that is intended to encourage effort and channel it into socially productive activity. To the extent that the system succeeds, it generates an efficient

N. Goldschmidt (*) Department of Social Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Munich, Munich, Germany e-mail: nil[email protected] A. Lenger Global Studies Programme, Institute for Sociology, Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_18, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



N. Goldschmidt and A. Lenger

economy. But that pursuit of efficiency necessarily creates inequalities. And hence society faces a tradeoff between equality and efficiency. (Okun, 1975, p. 1)

Following this argumentation one might identify two allegedly contrary effects: On the one hand, a market economy produces unequal results, which are frequently experienced as unjust; on the other hand, redistribution, which appears to be appropriate to realize socially just distribution patterns, entails negative impacts on donors (weaker stimuli for productive investments) and recipients (rent-seeking activities for transfer payments) and they are thus at conflict with an efficient economy. From the perspective of constitutional economics,1 which is the starting point and guiding line for the following considerations, the diagnosis regarding the tension between justice (equality) and efficiency is problematic in a twofold sense. On the one hand, normative statements on certain social results are systematically inadmissible in a market economy, since it is not possible to steer a direct course towards these results (Buchanan, 1959; cf. as well Hayek, 1945). On the other, a market economy is not legitimized solely by its economic productivity; its acceptance is ultimately to be attributed to the fact that it corresponds to a desirable and generally consensual, social collective arrangement for all individuals affected (Buchanan, 1975). Consequently, constitutional economics seeks such social arrangements which try to combine justice and efficiency not ex post as a correction of specific market outcomes but ex ante in designing societal rules and institutions in such a way that justice and efficiency are equally weighted elements of the social order. The crucial criterion for this objective is to enable individuals to realize reciprocal advantages at a social level (“mutual gains from joint commitment”, Vanberg, 2005) by a conjoint commitment to certain rules following a voluntary consensual agreement. Only if the rules of the economic and social order are really in agreement with the interests of the individuals concerned can they be considered legitimate from a constitutional economic perspective and have good prospects of being realized in the political arena. However, as helpful as the constitutional economic approach might be, one problem still remains unsolved. As we will show in what follows, the constitutional economic research program only succeeds in resolving the tension between the working properties of a market economy and the notions of justice at the theoreticalnormative level by moving the tension from the level of action to the level of rules. But, on a practical-empirical level real distributive results have to be taken into account. Individuals will de facto only agree on a specific social order if they can expect that the distributive results will be in their interest. Their assessment of different social arrangements will thereby basically be affected by two aspects:


Constitutional economics focuses on the development of desirable rules for human coexistence and cooperation. In analogy to the gains from trade-paradigm of classical economics constitutional economics searches for gains from mutual and voluntary commitment on a constitutional level (see below). The ideas of this approach were developed especially by James Buchanan and Viktor Vanberg.

Justice by Agreement: Constitutional Economics and its Cultural Challenge


their previous experiences with the factual order they live in and the conditions under which the assessment takes place. Consequently, politico-economic recommendations are not simply a theoretical construction, rather they must correspond to economic facts as well as historical and cultural conditions. Therefore, in what follows, the cultural approach to economics shall be introduced to supplement the constitutional economic modus operandi (Goldschmidt & Remmele, 2005). The paper is organized as follows: First, the tense relationship between justice and efficiency is presented in more detail from the perspective of constitutional economics (paragraph 2). Second, we will demonstrate on the basis of Friedrich August von Hayek’s critique of the concept of social justice that the tension between justice and economic efficiency stems from cultural conditions (paragraph 3). Third, a short glance at some results from empirical research into justice will illustrate that economic discussion on efficiency and justice has to take into account empirical justice research (paragraph 4). These considerations will then be broadened by a cultural perspective (paragraph 5) and we will demonstrate why a more complex homo culturalis is required (paragraph 6). To conclude, we will summarize our arguments (paragraph 7).

Justice and Efficiency from a Constitutional Economic Perspective Contemporary constitutional economics (Buchanan, 1975, 1991; Vanberg, 1994, 2001) integrates normative judgments into economic analysis. The crucial criterion to evaluate the justice of an arrangement of rules is derived from the fairness of the decision-making process. The fundamental idea is thus based on a reversion of the traditional ways of looking at justice. While in traditional welfare economics, rules are evaluated depending on whether the results correspond to economic efficiency and a ‘just’ income distribution (from a utilitarian point of view), in constitutional economics, justice is measured depending on whether the rules are the consequence of a ‘just’ decision-making process (Vanberg, 2005). From this procedure-orientated perspective of constitutional economics, rules are considered being just when they rely on the voluntary agreement of the individuals involved. James Buchanan, pioneer of the constitutional economics approach, argues that the legitimizing function of voluntary agreement, as it is implied for tradeoff processes on the market level, also has to be valid at the constitutional level, i.e. the decision-making level, where a community decides collectively on an issue, according to what rules it wishes to arrange its social life (cf. in more detail Vanberg, 1994). The consensual constitutional interests thus constitute a standard of evaluation for a just social order. Rules are consequently not evaluated based on principles of justice that are valid ex ante, their positive estimation results from the factual agreement of all persons affected by the respective institutional arrangement (Brennan & Buchanan, 1985). With regard to the question of how a society can discover the normative and positive conditions of constitutional rules that are in the mutual interest of the


N. Goldschmidt and A. Lenger

individuals, an experiment of thought might help. One can deal with constitutional issues as though informed decisions regarding institutional rules were made behind a veil of uncertainty (Buchanan, 1975; Rawls, 1971/2005). This veil of uncertainty decreases the strategic interest in rent-seeking activities for individual persons or groups and thus facilitates a decision-making process which is assessed by all members of society as being just. It is the particular achievement of constitutional economics to have theoretically resolved the classical conflict between efficiency and justice by transferring it to the level of rules. The constitutional consent equally serves the realization of justice since the reciprocal agreement can be interpreted as a confirmation of the fact that the rules are accepted as a fair starting point for future co-operation – and the realization of economic efficiency – since the market process will only be affected by a specific consensual framework but not by interventions into the market process itself. Furthermore, one can assume that individuals will agree voluntarily upon an economically efficient framework of rules (Buchanan, 1975). Evidently, it is very hard to realize such a concept of justice using a veil of uncertainty in reality. By contrast, the decision-making situation always constitutes a concrete status quo starting from the assumption that nobody can be positioned so that she is more badly off than others, since she will refuse to agree otherwise. It is at this precise nexus, between theoretical construction and practical adaptation to concrete (political-economic) problems that there is an essential weak point in modern constitutional economics. Through Hayek’s reflections on the concept of social justice as well as recent findings from empirical research into justice, it is now possible to illustrate why it is necessary to have a cultural perspective in order to explain the tension between justice and efficiency.

Hayek’s Critique of the Concept of Social Justice and Morality of the Small Group On several occasions Hayek concludes that economic growth and social progress are the result of the permanent search towards innovative and enhanced economic solutions. Therefore, the productivity of a market economy stems from the dynamics of free competition, which ideally controls the use of economic resources in such a way that they can be employed to the greatest contribution to satisfy the varied interests of consumers (Hayek, 1945). At the same time, negative individual sentiments towards the market economy arise from these advantages because competition, which is ruled by superior skill, strength or good fortune (Hayek, 1976), may also result in setbacks.2 It is precisely these ‘blind’ forces of the market,

2 Thus Hayek assumes that in the long term all participants to the market will, in the majority of cases, be positively affected by economic innovation processes. In this context he notes: “There is

Justice by Agreement: Constitutional Economics and its Cultural Challenge


which may result in disappointment and economic loss, irrespective of accomplishment and commitment, that obviously hurt the sense of justice of the people concerned and which lead to the demand for social safeguarding mechanisms and redistributive measures. Hayek has described this demand for social justice in detail and he has always emphasized that the notion of “social justice” as distributive justice is in principle incompatible with the working principles of a market economy (cf. Hayek, 1976, 1978). He argues that the legitimacy of the market economy can only be assessed by looking at procedural justice: in a spontaneous market order, economic processes are not directed by any authority, but they result from a non-coordinated and nonintended interaction of the participants in the market, all of whom are not directly in contact with each other. Consequently, it would be inconsistent to wish, on the one hand, to profit from the welfare-generating potential of a market economy and, on the other, to eliminate economic losses because they are viewed as unfair results. According to Hayek, people are making a categorical mistake if they transfer principles of justice, especially the idea of equal distribution, which apply to the social life of people in small traditional groups, to the modern market society. Why, then, do people apply principles of justice that are not adequate for market economy contexts? According to Hayek, people translate principles of social justice from familiar situations (where they can be applied) to market processes because they are familiar. In other words, people are making a culturally based categorical mistake (see Hayek, 1976, 1979). Thus Hayek concludes: There can be little doubt that the moral feelings which express themselves in the demand for ‘social justice’ derive from an attitude which in more primitive conditions the individual developed towards the fellow members of the small group to which he belonged. Towards the personally known member of one’s own group it may well have been a recognized duty to assist him and to adjust one’s actions to his needs. This is made possible by the knowledge of his person and his circumstances. The situation is wholly different in the Great or the Open Society. (. . .)What is usually not understood is that this extension of the same rules to the relations to all other men (beyond the most intimate group such as the family and personal friends) requires an attenuation at least of some of the rules which are enforced in the relations to other members of the smaller group. (Hayek, 1976, p. 88)

The fact that a market economy represents, in its overall result – even though not in any individual result –, an attractive order of rules is therefore in conflict with the prevailing, culturally shaped notions of justice. Thus, the spontaneous sense of justice of individuals does not necessarily correspond to their enlightened interests, which would determine their decisions on alternative orders of rules if they were conscious of their factual effects. Therefore, in order to solve the conflict between efficiency and justice, according to Hayek it is necessary that we ensure that our rational insights prevail over our inherited instincts and feelings of social justice (Hayek, 1976). Hayek comes to the conclusion that people have to adjust their

no need to morally justify specific distributions (of income or wealth) which have not been brought about deliberately but are the outcomes of a game that is played because it improves the chances of all”; Hayek (1976), p. 116, our emphasis.


N. Goldschmidt and A. Lenger

moral norms, social values, customs and traditions to the requirements of a modern market society. In this context he writes: That we can’t have any morals we like or dream of. Morals, to be viable, must satisfy certain requirements, requirements which we may not be able to specify but may only be able to find out by trial and error. What is required is not merely consistency, or compatibility of the rules as well as the acts demanded by them. A system of morals also must produce a functioning order, capable of maintaining the apparatus of civilization which is presupposed. (Hayek, 1976, p. 98)

Thus, Hayek concludes, based on the advantages of a market economy that interventions into the market mechanism have to cease in order not to jeopardize the affluence-creating potential of a market economy. He reasons that, given the existence and advantageousness of a large society system, social justice is useless (we owe this argument with regard to a “systematic fallacy” in Hayek to a discussion with Bernd Remmele). Hayek’s argument, anchoring a wide range of our moral sentiments and the notion of social justice in our cultural roots, may well be convincing, but to conclude therefrom that in a modern society we have to overcome these feelings seems to be too rash a conclusion. Moral feelings and social conditions cannot – as discussed above – be founded in, nor solely legitimized by, positive (economic) effects. Rather, they derive their legitimacy by the voluntary agreement of the individuals affected, which might de facto be based on their sense of social justice. The moral sentiments of individuals and thus the capability for consensual social order arise from socio-cultural determinants and historical experiences of people in their specific social world, which does not simply represent an absolute sociopolitical precept. Therefore, individuals acting and thinking within a framework of social and economic development must be understood interdependently, i.e. through the interplay of individual actions within their group and with regard to their respective social and cultural background. Therefore, modern constitutional economics has to ask itself whether it is based upon realistic assumptions when it comes to understanding justice in a real-life setting.

Justice from an Empirical Perspective The empirical research on justice3 has to be understood as a branch of research which is an inquiry into the psychological and social conditions of judgments on justice, highlighting the role of justice in everyday situations. Inter alia, empirical

3 For an introduction to the research on social justice see for example the contributions by Jasso and Wegener (1997), Jasso (1999), Miller (1999), Liebig (2001), Montada (2001), and Ross and Miller (2002). Substantial findings are derived from the research groups of responsibility, justice, morals (www.gerechtigkeitsforschung.de/publikationen), the interdisciplinary social research project (http://www2.hu-berlin.de/isgf), and the Journal Social Justice Research (http://www.isjr. org/Journal.html). An overall view of the international research into justice is to be found in Kluegel et al. (1995a, 1995b).

Justice by Agreement: Constitutional Economics and its Cultural Challenge


research into justice has also studied attitudes towards the market economy, the welfare state and the reform of the welfare state. One main result of empirical research on justice is that individuals’ judgments on justice are always incorporated into cultural and social contexts. This confirms the assumption that market-critical judgments often derive from feelings of justice which are incompatible with the working principles of a market economy (cf. Esping-Andersen, 1999; Mau, 2003; Roller, 1994; Wegener, Lippl, & Christoph, 2000). In the empirical research literature, there is a large degree of agreement on the fact that there exists a relatively restricted repertory of codes of conduct according to which people assess a distribution to be just or unjust. Empirical findings give evidence that there exist three central principles in situations in which people apply the standard of distributive justice: the market- or meritocracy-based, the need-based, and the equality-based principles of distribution. (1) The meritocracy-based principle is predominantly applied to economically orientated, competitive relations, as they can be found, for example, within businesses or among competitors on the market. The application of this principle results in a high willingness to perform and produce through incentives of reward. (2) In close emotional and personal relationships such as friendships, partnerships or families, the need-based principle manifests itself. Here, a distribution is perceived to be just if everybody receives the amount that she requires to satisfy her elementary needs. (3) The equality-based principle serves the fostering and preservation of socially desirable social relations. This principle is applied in order to maintain or establish co-operation, relationships based on partnership and solidarity, for example with regard to teamwork. In the political arena, equality before the law as well as equal life prospects (e.g., equal educational opportunities, fair wages, etc.) is derived from this principle (cf. Aalberg, 2003, as well as in more detail Arts & Gelissen, 2001; Deutsch, 1975, 1985; Wagstaff, 1994). Furthermore, there is empirical evidence that people’s notions of justice differ from one another depending on their social backgrounds and cultural characterizations (Aalberg, 2003; Leung & Morris, 2001). Moreover, international comparative studies demonstrate that the affiliation to a certain culture has significant effects on people’s convictions pertaining to justice (cf. Kluegel, Mason, & Wegener, 1995a). Whereas, for example, in Germany, the majority view on social justice is characterized by safeguarding a minimal standard of living, basic medical care, and an adequate provision for old age, most people in the United States ask for minor redistribution from the state because of their preference for individual freedom to pursue their life plans, which in turn leads them to accept greater social inequality (cf. Wegener & Liebig, 1995). To sum up, the empirical evidence demonstrates that individual judgments on justice will be different depending on personality, social and cultural backgrounds, and economic outcomes. Therefore, obviously, it is not sufficient to advocate a resolution of the tension between justice and efficiency at the level of rules since the results of such an arrangement might contradict the perception of justice of the people affected. If the real distributive patterns do not systematically match the expectations of a large number of affected persons in the long run, naturally it has to be assumed that they would not consent to such an order and thus a reform of


N. Goldschmidt and A. Lenger

the rules would be required (Vanberg, 2004). Even if the persons affected might have agreed beforehand on a supposedly just framework of rules, such a framework would lose its factual legitimacy if it turned out that it systematically generated one particular group of losers. This can, inter alia, be attributed to the fact that individuals develop a collective identity in the course of their self-description, i.e. they consider the existential safeguarding of separate individuals as a joint task.4 Therefore it can be deduced that this is not just about the theoretical matter of implementing a just framework of rules for perfectly informed individuals behind a veil of uncertainty. Given the fact that people equally assess both the underlying level of rules and the resulting patterns, it becomes clear that the tension needs to be resolved at all levels. Thus, the central task should be to structure the political process (i.e., the order of rules) in such a way that it allows for outcomes that can be accepted de facto by the affected individuals as being just.5 In order to take the factual interests and notions of justice of all individuals affected into account and accepting the fact that people form their judgments on justice based on a cultural and historical context, a cultural approach to economics which views individuals as belonging to different cultural contexts and interprets judgments on justice as elements of human culture may help to enrich the constitutional economics approach.

A Cultural Theory of Economics as a Framework to Analyze the Issue of Justice A cultural interpretation of social rules and the role they play in economic activities starts with the distinction between formal and informal rules (see North, 1990). This differentiation corresponds to the fact that in reality we can observe both elements of planned as well as unplanned, i.e. spontaneous, social orders (cf. fundamentally Hayek, 1973; see additionally Vanberg, 1994). In this context, formal institutions – that is to say planned orders – belong to the level of political process, the subject

4 In this context, two works of experimental economics, verifying that both rules and results are viewed to be justice criteria, seem relevant: If individuals consider the rules or results as being unfair, they have strong motives to alter those structures; cf. Frey, Benz, & Stutzer (2004). Furthermore, it was possible to demonstrate that, if the ensuing outcomes were perceived as being unfair or inappropriate by the persons affected, some individuals would readily act as homo reciprocans, i.e. they would alter their strategies in favor of the losers even though they would have derived greater material profit from the previous situation; cf. Fehr and G€achter (2000). 5 The fact that the ensuing outcomes have to be taken into consideration with regard to the establishment of constitutional rules is also emphasized by Buchanan and Bush (1974), page 156f: “In any real-world setting, of course, the discussion of institutional rules affecting incomewealth distribution must take place in recognition of existing legal definitions of property rights, of existing political decision-making mechanisms, and of predicted patterns of income distribution as well as predicted positions of persons within these predicted distributions.”

Justice by Agreement: Constitutional Economics and its Cultural Challenge


matter on which constitutional economics focuses. Informal institutions, however, constitute unwritten codes of conduct or conventions which are the result of an evolutionary process and consequently cannot directly derive from conscious human planning. Although informal rules cannot be carried out judicially, they are nevertheless subject to social sanctioning mechanisms and they can thus by no means be regarded as “voluntary” in the sense that they might be consciously calculated decisions. The knowledge that formal and informal institutions equally influence economic development is substantial to an in-depth analysis of the tension existing between justice and efficiency. Markets channeling existing economic activities into productive paths are typically structured by a cluster of formal rules (such as e.g., laws of competition). However, the behavioral patterns of the market participants play an essential role in making the market function, in creating prosperity and in ensuring the supply of goods. These behavioral patterns derive from dealing constantly with recurring problem situations and are influenced by the underlying notions of justice, as empirical research on justice has shown. In this context, one might assume that the productive potential of formal institutions (low transaction costs) can only be fully tapped when this institutional system is compatible with the notions of justice of the affected actors (as well as with their behavioral patterns) (cf. Pejovich, 2006). Moreover, existing formal rules or systems of rules will only be regarded as legitimate solutions if they are based on the agreement of the people involved, and this also includes their moral sentiments towards these formal institutions. It is of crucial importance both for the legitimacy of the formal rules as well as for their economic viability that they correspond to the underlying informal rules. This specific interaction between formal and informal rules lies at the heart of a cultural theory of economics. Culture – understood in this sense – is more than simply a combination of informal rules and restrictions; it constitutes the entire reciprocal interaction of ways of thinking, behavioral patterns and social actions (Goldschmidt, 2006; cf. as well Davis, 2003 and Greif, 2006). If one follows this line of reasoning, it becomes obvious that simply regarding existing notions of justice, analogous to culture, as informal rules and/or as exogenous residual factors of economic development does not suffice (on the critique of the externalization of culture in economic-scientific approaches cf. Klump, 2002). Indeed, the tension existing between the notions of justice and the working properties of a market economy can not be successfully explained without seeking to understand the notions of justice in their structural importance for market processes themselves. Here, the understanding that institutions are not arbitrarily malleable, but dependent on the previous path of development is central: future developments are tied to historical experiences and to current institutions and a short-term system change will inevitably lead to conflicts with the prevalent cultural patterns.6 Applied to

6 Thus from the perspective of a cultural theory of economics, one of the crucial problems of transformation in Eastern Europe is due to culturally practiced patterns underlying the thinking and acting of economic actors that have to be adapted to a rapidly altered formal framework cf. Zweynert and Goldschmidt (2006).


N. Goldschmidt and A. Lenger

notions of justice, this means that inherited judgments on justice are reflected in our contemporary formal institutions (e.g., in the existence of a social market economy, in wage agreements, in the protection against wrongful dismissal, etc.), but also that they are available – via the process of socialization – as codes of conduct, thus influencing our normative orientation towards just payment, generational justice, etc. (cf. Rothstein, 1998; Scharpf & Schmidt, 2000). Also Bourdieu (1989/2002) demonstrates in a very convincing way the cultural shaping of notions of justice through habitualization. The fact that different notions of justice are in an interdependent interplay with the respective social systems is beyond question. Therefore, economic actions are characterized to a considerable extent by the following question: how do political and social institutions influence the decision-making situations of the actors and their individual expectations? Formal institutions in this sense are not only codified social conventions or “coagulated” social acting; they equally take on the function of shaping norms, values and notions of justice. They are the result of deliberate planning and consideration in order to facilitate shortterm incentives with regard to desirable social actions while at the same time giving rise (frequently in an unplanned manner) to social norms in the long run. Put in other words: through the deliberate shaping of formal institutions one may attempt to influence which norms and notions of justice establish themselves in society in the longer term (North, 1990; Rothstein, 1998). A cultural theory of economics, which explains the efficiency and developmental dynamics of economic systems by means of their specific historical and cultural location, points to the fact that a political-economic structure representing an advantageous arrangement at the hypothetical level cannot constitute a suitable (just) institutional arrangement if it goes against the people’s prevailing notions of justice. What this point teaches us is that – even if one understands a feasible institutional arrangement as the positive result of a spontaneous process – the unintended results of such an order may run counter to the justifiable interests of the individuals and therefore may be perceived as ‘unjust.’

From a Homogeneous Homo Oeconomicus to a Heterogeneous Homo Culturalis For the further analysis of compatibility between economic efficiency and notions of justice, it is helpful to assume specific preferences of individuals with regard to a certain social order (economic order). For a market economy to be accepted, it must achieve two goals: on the one hand it must ensure a supply of goods and services corresponding as closely as possible to people’s preferences and, on the other hand, realize a distribution of income and property that all citizens feel to be just. Citizens will judge both the allocation and the distribution processes as well as their developing outcome patterns based on various principles of justice. In this

Justice by Agreement: Constitutional Economics and its Cultural Challenge


context it is plausible to assume that the individuals concerned prefer living in a social order which is perceived – by them – as being just. This consensual ability, however, does not (only) arise from rational benefit maximization calculations, it is also decisively influenced by culturally shaped feelings of justice which are not subject to the deliberate planning of people. In order to facilitate such a broadening of the perspective on efficiency and justice, it is therefore necessary to replace the existing concept of homo oeconomicus with a more elaborated concept of homo culturalis. A homo oeconomicus who is controlled by external behavioral incentives and responds in a perfectly rational manner to material self-interest is suitable for the analysis of anonymous competitive markets. But a more comprehensive homo culturalis is required when it comes to the analysis of economic decisions in which social relations and conflicts are considered. Primarily, the development of a collective identity as a characteristic feature of homo culturalis and its significance has to be discussed. To clarify the definition: homo oeconomicus knows neither sympathy nor antipathy, neither jealousy nor vindictiveness, neither gratitude nor fairness. But real individuals have experienced these feelings as well as other altruistic feelings such as loyalty, relationship and confidence. This in turn leads to a commitment towards the group, authority or organization (cf. Fukuyama, 1995; Tyler & Blader, 2000). And yet it is precisely this limited explanatory value of a homo-oeconomicus-based analysis which has been highlighted by experimental economics (cf. Davis & Holt, 1993; Kagel & Roth, 1995; Smith, 1991). By accepting collective identities, however, collective judgments on justice become the centre of the investigation. In order to feel tied to a ‘collective,’ concurring moral ideas and duties are required (cf. in this context Davis, 2003). It seems plausible that the culturally conditioned identity of a person has a systematic influence on her notions of justice and thus influences the economic behavior of homo culturalis both directly and indirectly. Investigations into the phenomenon of social preferences demonstrate that individuals do not only strive for an efficient and material supply of goods, but they also evaluate aspects such as fairness and justice, as well as take interest in the well-being of other actors resulting in the tendency to favor reciprocity. It has been verified by numerous experiments that these concepts are applied in small groups in particular (Bolton & Ockenfels, 2000; Charness & Rabin, 2002; Fehr & Schmidt, 1999; Fehr & Fischbacher, 2002). Accordingly, Charness and Rabin (2002) succeeded in demonstrating that within a two-player-interaction, human beings value the profit of a team member almost as much as their own benefit, under the condition that she has not behaved in an unfair manner before. The demand for equality or just distribution, which goes beyond the scope of obtaining things for oneself and taking individual interests into consideration, is to be found particularly in the work of Fehr and Schmidt (1999) on the aversion of inequality. It is a fact that these principles preserve their validity in open market societies, i.e. that people have a pronounced consciousness of justice and an extreme aversion to inequality, as indicated by the findings of empirical research on justice.


N. Goldschmidt and A. Lenger

Above, we emphasized the fact that judgments on justice are not static, but that people pronounce their judgments on justice based on their specific cultural and social contexts. There are therefore significant differences with regard to the sense of justice of the citizens concerned, which have to be taken into consideration within the framework of economic analysis. The fact that the notions of justice, i.e. the preferences for certain principles of distribution patterns, differ within a society has been sufficiently documented empirically. Socio-demographic features and status positions are partially responsible for this; however, it also depends on different life situations (Bourdieu, 1989/2002). In addition, institutional arrangements play a role and the affiliation to a certain cultural group has significant effects on people’s convictions regarding justice. Thus, international investigations demonstrate that there are clear national differences (cf. e.g., Kluegel et al., 1995a). In this context, empirical evidence shows that differences in justice are to be traced back to the respective particular historical cultural traditions in the various countries (cf. Aalberg, 2003; Wegener & Liebig, 1995). In order to be able to do justice to the voluntary agreement postulate for all people concerned as well as to simultaneously consider the variety of any life situation, assumptions based on real life must underlie economic theory. Consequently, economic individuals should not be represented by one homogenous homo culturalis, but by several heterogeneous, yet similar, homines culturales. Denzau and North have accordingly pointed to the fact that people have to have similar mental models and ideologies of justice at their disposal in order to organize their social life in a sensible way. They emphasize in the course of this: In fact, no two individuals have exactly the same experiences and accordingly each individual has to some degree unique perceptions of the world. Their mental models would tend to diverge for this reason if there were not ongoing communication with other individuals with a similar cultural background (. . .). The cultural heritage provides a means of reducing the divergence in the mental models that people in a society have and also constitutes a means for the intergenerational transfer of unifying perceptions. (Denzau & North, 1994, p. 15)

In contrast to current economic theory, in such a model, great importance is attached to the identities of our fellow human beings, their individual social position as well as the institutional framework conditions under which they live. This can be illustrated by the example of the welfare state: The fact that welfare states have acquired different forms is well-known (cf. fundamentally EspingAndersen, 1990, and the subsequent discussion). If people are born in a particular welfare state model, the different shapes of this welfare state – to a certain extent the coagulated notions of justice – will impress similar future notions of justice. In this context one can assume that the effects of a welfare state are valid for all members of this jurisdiction since the competence in social welfare legislation, that is to say for social safeguarding systems and distributional mechanisms, is mainly positioned at the national level and therefore it is of relevance to all members of a community. We showed earlier that an economic order should be developed based on the culturally shaped experiences of the people affected and their individual perceptions of this order in order to completely resolve the tension in question and

Justice by Agreement: Constitutional Economics and its Cultural Challenge


thus facilitate just structures. Therefore, it makes sense, when analyzing notions of justice and economic efficiency, to take more interest in the “sort” of welfare state people were socialized in and how it influences their notions of justice.

Conclusion The crucial question ensuing from the preceding considerations is: How should one imagine an economic and social order that accounts for heterogeneous homines culturales, includes individual, culturally shaped preferences and, at the same time, takes into account reflections on economic efficiency? This can be answered by taking into consideration the fact that a decision in favor of a market economy cannot be legitimized immediately by its economic efficiency since it is tied to the interests and voluntary agreement of the people living in such an order. Consequently, there are many points in favor of an economic and socio-political framework, which allows the offering of multiple welfare arrangements out of which individuals make selections according to their notions of justice and their individual social positions. Against this background it will have to be scrutinized in how far private solutions correspond to the actual notions of justice or whether a multiple-state solution meets approval. It seems plausible that a greater variety of socio-political alternatives are in the common interest of the members of society. Such a conception shows simultaneously close links to the FOCJ-concept by Frey and Eichenberger (1999) (for a critical discussion of the FOCJ-concept cf. Vanberg, 2000). The necessity for revised theoretical considerations, however, does not only ensue from the empirical findings on the actual notions of justice as perceived by the people, which partly run contrary to the current economic and social order, but derives first and foremost from the normative question as to how to realize a just and consensual overall order. This does not entail that people’s culturally-based desires and notions regarding justice should – far from it – simply be interpreted as rigid, constant and invariable determinants of economic development. Rather, a pragmatic economic justice theory should seek to enable the people concerned to develop and to implement rules based on their mutual interests by imparting scientific insights about the factual relationship between justice perceptions and the working properties of a market economy.

References Aalberg, T. (2003). Achieving justice: Comparative public opinions on income distribution. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers. Arts, W., & Gelissen, J. (2001). Welfare states, solidarity and justice principles: Does the type really matter? Acta Sociologica, 44, 283–299. Bolton, G.E., & Ockenfels, A. (2000). ERC: A theory of equity, reciprocity and competition. The American Economic Review, 90(1), 166–193.


N. Goldschmidt and A. Lenger

Bourdieu, P. (1989/2002). Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. New York, NY: Harvard University Press. Brennan, G., & Buchanan, J. M. (1985). The reason of rules: Constitutional political economy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Buchanan, J. M. (1959). Positive economics, welfare economics, and political economy. Journal of Law and Economics, 2, 124–138. Buchanan, J. M. (1975). The limits of liberty: Between anarchy and leviathan. Indianapolis, IN: University of Chicago Press. Buchanan, J. M. (1991). Constitutional economics. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Buchanan, J. M., & Bush, W. C. (1974). Political constraints on contractual redistribution. The American Economic Review, 64, 153–157. Charness, G., & Rabin, M. (2002). Understanding social preferences with simple tests. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(3), 817–869. Davis, D. D., & Holt, C. A. (1993). Experimental economics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Davis, J. B. (2003). The theory of the individual in economics. Identity and value. New York, NY: Routledge. Denzau, A. T., & North, D. C. (1994). Shared mental models: Ideologies and institutions. Kyklos, 47(1), 3–31. Deutsch, M. (1975). Equity, equality, and need: What determines which value will be used as the basis of distributive justice? Journal of Social Issues, 31(3), 137–149. Deutsch, M. (1985). Distributive Justice: A social-psychological perspective. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Esping-Andersen, G. (1999). Social foundations of postindustrial economies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2002). Why social preferences matter. The impact of non-selfish motives on competition, cooperation and incentives. The Economic Journal, 112, C1–C33. Fehr, E., & G€achter, S. (2000). Fairness and retaliation: The economics of reciprocity. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14(3), 159–181. Fehr, E., & Schmidt, K. M. (1999). A theory of fairness, competition and cooperation. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 114(3), 817–868. Frey, B., & Eichenberger, R. (1999). The new democratic federalism for Europe. Functional, overlapping, and competing jurisdictions. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Frey, B., Benz, M., & Stutzer, A. (2004). Introducing procedural utility: Not only what, but also how matters. Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, 160(3), 377–401. Fukuyama, F. (1995). Trust. New York, NY: Free Press. Goldschmidt, N. (2006). A cultural approach to economics. Intereconomics, 41(4), 176–182. Goldschmidt, N., & Remmele, B. (2005). Anthropology as the basic science of economic theory: Towards a cultural theory of economics. Journal of Economic Methodology, 12, 455–469. Greif, A. (2006). Institutions and the path to the modern economy: Lessons from medieval trade. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Hayek, F. A. (1945). The use of knowledge in society. The American Economic Review, 35(4), 519–530. Hayek, F. A. (1973). Law, legislation and liberty, Vol 1, rules and order. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Hayek, F. A. (1976). Law, legislation and liberty, Vol 2, the mirage of social justice. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Hayek, F. A. (1978). The atavism of social justice. In F. A. Hayek (Ed.), New Studies in philosophy, politics, economics and the history of ideas (pp. 57–68). London, UK: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Justice by Agreement: Constitutional Economics and its Cultural Challenge


Hayek, F. A. (1979). Law, legislation and liberty, Vol 3, the political order of a free people. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Jasso, G. (1999). How much injustice is there in the world? Two new justice indexes. American Sociological Review, 64, 133–168. Jasso, G., & Wegener, B. (1997). Methods for empirical justice analysis. Part 1. Framework, models, and quantities. Social Justice Research, 10, 393–430. Kagel, J. H., & Roth, A. E. (Eds.). (1995). The handbook of experimental economics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Kluegel, J. R., Mason, D., & Wegener, B. (1995a). The international social justice project. In J. R. Kluegel, D. Mason, & B. Wegener (Eds.), Social justice and political change. Public opinion in capitalist and post-communist states (pp. 1–14). Berlin, Germany: A. de Gruyter. Kluegel, J. R., Mason, D., & Wegener, B. (Eds.). (1995b). Social justice and political change. Public opinion in capitalist and post-communist states. Berlin, Germany: A. de Gruyter. Klump, R. (2002). The role of culture in economic theorizing and empirical economic research. In H. H. Nau & B. Schefold (Eds.), The historicity of economics. Continuities and discontinuities of historical thought in 19th and 20th century economics (pp. 207–224). Berlin, Germany: Springer. Leung, K., & Morris, M. W. (2001). Justice through the lens of culture and ethnicity. In J. Sanders & V. L. Hamilton (Eds.), Handbook of justice research in law (pp. 343–378). New York, NY: Kluwer Academic. Liebig, S. (2001). Lessons From Philosophy? Interdisciplinary justice. research and two classes of justice judgments. Social Justice Research, 14(3), 265–287. Mau, Steffen (2003). The moral economy of the welfare state, London, Routledge. Miller, D. T. (1999). Principles of social justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Montada, L. (2001). Justice and its many faces: Cultural concerns. In N. J. Smelser & P. B. Baltes (Eds.), International encyclopedia of the social & behavioral sciences (pp. 8037–8042). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier. North, D. C. (1990). Institutions, institutional change and economic performance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Okun, A. M. (1975). Equality and efficiency: The big tradeoff. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution. Pejovich, S. (2006). The uneven results of institutional changes in central and eastern Europe. The role of culture. Social Philosophy and Policy, 23, 231–254. Rawls, J. (1971/2005). A theory of justice. Cambridge, UK: Belknap Press. Roller, E. (1994). Ideological basis of the market economy: Attitudes toward distribution principles and the role of government in western and eastern Germany. European Sociological Review, 10, 105–117. Ross, M., & Miller, D. T. (Eds.). (2002). The justice motive in everyday life. New essays in honor of Melvin J. Lerner. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Rothstein, B. (1998). Just institutions matter. The moral and political logic of the universal welfare state. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Scharpf, F. W., & Schmidt, V. A. (Eds.). (2000). Welfare and work in the open economy. Vol. 1: From vulnerability to competitiveness. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Smith, V. L. (1991). Papers in experimental economics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Tyler, T. R., & Blader, L. (2000). Cooperation in groups. Procedural justice, social identity, and behavioral engagement. Philadelphia: Psychology Press. Vanberg, V. J. (1994). Rules and choice in economics. London: Routledge. Vanberg, V. J. (2000). Functional federalism. Communal or individual rights. Kyklos, 53, 363–386. Vanberg, V. J. (2001). The constitution of markets. Essays in political economy. London: Routledge.


N. Goldschmidt and A. Lenger

Vanberg, V. J. (2004). The status quo in contractarian-constitutionalist perspective. Constitutional Political Economy, 15, 153–170. Vanberg, V. J. (2005). Market and state. The perspective of constitutional political economy. Journal of Institutional Economics, 1(1), 23–49. Wagstaff, G. F. (1994). Equity, equality, and need: Three principles of justice or one? An analysis of “equity as desert”. Current Psychology, 13(2), 138–152. Wegener, B., & Liebig, S. (1995). Dominant ideologies and the variation of distributive justice norms: A comparison of east and west Germany, and the United States. In J. R. Kluegel, D. Mason, & B. Wegener (Eds.), Social justice and political change (pp. 239–284). New York: A. de Gruyter. Wegener, B., Lippl, B., & Christoph, B. (2000). Justice ideologies, perceptions of reward justice, and transformation: East and west Germany in comparison. In D. S. Mason & J. R. Kluegel (Eds.), Marketing democracy. Changing opinion about inequality and politics in east central Europe (pp. 122–160). New York: A. de Gruyter. Zweynert, J., & Goldschmidt, N. (2006). The two transitions in central and eastern Europe as processes of institutional transplantation. Journal of Economic Issues, 40(4), 895–918.

System Justification: A Motivational Process with Implications for Social Conflict John T. Jost, Ido Liviatan, Jojanneke van der Toorn, Alison Ledgerwood, Anesu Mandisodza, and Brian A. Nosek

Abstract According to system justification theory, people are motivated to defend and legitimize the social systems that affect them. In this chapter, we review 15 years of theory and empirical research demonstrating the motivational underpinnings of system justification processes. We begin by explaining why people are motivated to system justify (i.e., it serves social and psychological needs). We then describe five lines of evidence that corroborate the motivational postulate of system justification theory: (1) Individual differences in selfdeception and ideological motivation are linked to system justification; (2) System threat elicits defensive responses on behalf of the system; (3) People engage in biased information-processing in favor of system-serving conclusions; (4) System justification processes exhibit properties of goal pursuit; and (5) The desire to legitimize the system inspires greater behavioral effort. We consider the implications of this motivational approach for understanding situations— including situations involving social conflict—that facilitate resistance to vs. support for social change.

J.T. Jost (*) • A. Mandisodza Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY, USA e-mail: [email protected] I. Liviatan Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA J. van der Toorn Department of Social Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA A. Ledgerwood Department of Psychology, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA, USA B.A. Nosek Social and Cognitive Programs, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_19, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



J.T. Jost et al.

Introduction History reveals a staggering number of instances of decent (as well as indecent) people not merely passively accepting—but sometimes even actively justifying and rationalizing—social systems that are seen as extremely unjust by outsiders, often in retrospect. The caste system in India has survived largely intact for 3,000 years, with 150 million Indians to this day declared “Untouchables” (Ghose, 2003). The institution of slavery survived for more than 400 years in Europe and the Americas. Colonialism was also practiced for centuries and still is in some places (as is slavery), and the apartheid system in South Africa lasted for 46 years. These social systems were (or still are) bolstered by motivated social cognition through the use of stereotypes, rationalizations, ideologies, and legitimizing myths (e.g., see Jost & Hamilton, 2005). That is, there are profound psychological factors that motivate individuals to accept, even support, the existing social system, even if that system entails substantial costs and relatively few benefits for them individually and for the community as a whole (Jost, Banaji, & Nosek, 2004; Kay & Zanna, 2009). Despite being the wealthiest society in history, the United States is a country in which 37 million citizens (approximately 12.6% of the population) are living in poverty (USA Today, 2006). Poverty rates for Blacks and Latinos in the United States are near to one in four (National Index of Violence and Harm, 2007). At the same time, the combined net worth of the 400 wealthiest Americans exceeds 1 trillion dollars (Mishel, Bernstein, & Allegretta, 2005), with C.E.O.’s today earning approximately 500 times the salary of their average employee, up from a factor of 85 just one decade ago (Stiglitz, 2004). Theories of motivation that stress self-interest, identity politics, and the thirst for justice would likely predict that these facts would elicit widespread protest, rebellion, and moral outrage on the part of the disadvantaged. For instance, Gurr (1970) summarized his prominent theory of relative deprivation this way: “[M]en are quick to aspire beyond their social means and quick to anger when those means prove inadequate, but slow to accept their limitations” (p. 58). More recently, Simon and Klandermans (2001) argued that, “Feelings of illegitimate inequality or injustice typically result when social comparisons reveal that one’s ingroup is worse off than relevant out-groups” (p. 324). However, “quickness to anger” in economic and other spheres occurs more rarely than one would expect, and the “sense of injustice” is surprisingly difficult to awaken (Deutsch, 1974). Despite the fact that most Americans explicitly espouse egalitarian ideals, public opinion polls show that a strong majority perceives their economic system as fair and legitimate (Jost, Blount, Pfeffer, & Hunyady, 2003). In one particularly dramatic example, more than 80% of survey respondents belonging to the poorest economic classification endorsed the belief that “large income differences are necessary to get people to work hard” (Jost, Pelham, Sheldon, & Sullivan, 2003, p. 24).

System Justification: A Motivational Process with Implications for Social Conflict


Those few who do campaign for social and economic change are, generally speaking, not the ones who would benefit the most from it, and they are frequently subjected to resentment and disapproval for their efforts (e.g., Diekman & Goodfriend, 2007; Kaiser, Dyrenforth, & Hagiwara, 2006). Moral outrage, in other words, is often more easily directed at those who dare to challenge the system than at those who are responsible for its failings. The poet, W. H. Auden (1939/ 1977), exercised considerable social psychological insight into this phenomenon when he wrote that: There is a merciful mechanism in the human mind that prevents one from knowing how unhappy one is. One only realizes it if the unhappiness passes, and then one wonders how on earth one was ever able to stand it. If the factory workers once got out of factory life for 6 months, there would be a revolution such as the world has never seen. (p. 402)

This mechanism—like rationalization in general—is indeed merciful in certain psychological respects, because it helps people cope with and adapt to realities, including unwelcome realities. But it is also potentially costly at the societal level, insofar as it undermines the motivation to push for progress and social change (Wakslak, Jost, Tyler, & Chen, 2007). In this chapter we address the motivational dynamics underlying system justification tendencies to better understand psychological obstacles to social innovation, system change, and the attainment of justicerelated goals (see also Blasi & Jost, 2006; Jost, Blount et al., 2003; Jost & Kay, 2010; Kay et al., 2009; Lerner 1980).

Stalking the “Merciful Mechanism” We have been stalking Auden’s “merciful” mechanism for many years and have given it a name: “system justification” (Jost & Banaji, 1994). Specifically, we have argued that in addition to well-known motives for ego and group justification that are assumed to serve personal and collective self-esteem and interests, people are also motivated to defend, bolster, and rationalize the social systems that affect them—to see the status quo as good, fair, legitimate, and desirable (Jost et al., 2004; Jost, Burgess, & Mosso, 2001; Kay et al., 2007). System justification theory does not suggest that people always perceive the status quo as completely fair and just; as with other motives (including ego and group justification motives), the strength of system justification motives is expected to vary considerably across individuals, groups, and situations. In short, we are merely suggesting that people are prone to emphasize their system’s virtues, downplay its vices, and consequently see the societal status quo as better and more just than it actually is (Jost & Hunyady, 2005). This raises the worrisome possibility that it is possible to have a stable, relatively conflict-free society even in the absence of attaining normatively defensible standards of justice and fairness (see also Jost & Kay, 2010). An important tenet of system justification theory is that for those who occupy a relatively advantaged position in the social system, the three motives of ego,


J.T. Jost et al.

group, and system justification are generally consonant, complementary, and mutually reinforcing. For those who are disadvantaged, however, these three motives are often in conflict or contradiction with one another, and different individuals may make different “choices” about how to resolve these conflicts (Jost et al., 2001). Accordingly, several studies show that the more African Americans subscribe to system-justifying beliefs, such as the belief that inequality in society is fair and necessary, the more they suffer in terms of self-esteem and neuroticism, and the more ambivalent they feel toward fellow ingroup members (Jost & Thompson, 2000; see also O’Brien & Major, 2005). Because ego, group, and system justification motives are in opposition for those who are disadvantaged by the status quo, such individuals are on average less likely than those who are advantaged to see the existing system as fair and legitimate (Jost et al., 2001; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). However, under some circumstances—such as when the salience of individual or collective self-interest is very low—members of disadvantaged groups can ironically be the most ardent supporters of the status quo (e.g., Frank, 2004; Henry & Saul, 2006; Jost, Pelham et al., 2003). This phenomenon is difficult to explain from the standpoint of other prominent theories in social psychology, such as social identity theory and social dominance theory (see Jost, 2011). A skeptic might ask whether such findings reflect the internalization of favorable attitudes toward the system (and the outgroup) rather than insincere displays of deference (Scott, 1990; Spears, Jetten, & Doosje, 2001). Studies using implicit measures that reduce opportunities for impression management, such as the Implicit Association Test (IAT), reveal much evidence of implicit favorability toward higher status outgroups (Dasgupta, 2004; Jost et al., 2004). Substantial proportions of members of disadvantaged groups — including dark-skinned Morenos in Chile (Uhlmann, Dasgupta, Elgueta, Greenwald, & Swanson, 2002), poor people and the obese (Rudman, Feinberg, & Fairchild, 2002), gays and lesbians (Jost et al., 2004), Latinos and Asians (Jost, Pelham, & Carvallo, 2002), and African Americans (Ashburn-Nardo & Johnson, 2008; Ashburn-Nardo, Knowles, & Monteith, 2003; Jost et al., 2004)—exhibit implicit biases in favor of more advantaged outgroup members. Furthermore, the magnitude of implicit outgroup favoritism among the disadvantaged is positively correlated with individuals’ scores on measures of system justification (Ashburn-Nardo et al., 2003) and political conservatism (Jost et al., 2004), which is a prototypical system-justifying ideology (Jost, Nosek, & Gosling, 2008).

Benefits and Costs of System Justification Jost and Hunyady (2002) suggested that system justification serves the palliative function of reducing negative affect associated with perceived injustice and increasing positive affect and therefore satisfaction with the status quo. This idea bears some resemblance to Marx’s notion that religion is the “opiate of the masses,” or

System Justification: A Motivational Process with Implications for Social Conflict


the “illusory happiness of the people.” In several studies we find that giving people the opportunity to justify the system does indeed lead them to feel better and more satisfied and to report feeling more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions (Jost, Wakslak, & Tyler, 2008; Wakslak et al., 2007). Furthermore, chronically high system-justifiers, such as political conservatives, are happier (as measured in terms of subjective well-being) than are chronically low system-justifiers, such as leftists and those who are troubled by the degree of social and economic inequality in our society (Napier & Jost, 2008). The hedonic benefits of system justification, however, come with a cost in terms of decreased potential for social change and the remediation of inequality. Wakslak and colleagues (2007) demonstrated that system-justifying ideologies, whether measured or manipulated through a mindset-priming technique, do indeed serve to reduce emotional distress—including negative affect in general and guilt in particular—but they also reduce “moral outrage.” This last consequence is particularly important, because moral outrage motivates people to engage in helping behavior and to support social change (Montada & Schneider, 1989; Thomas, McGarty, & Mavor, 2009). Thus, the reduction in moral outrage made people less inclined to help those who are disadvantaged, measured in terms of research participants’ degree of support for and willingness to volunteer for or donate to a soup kitchen, a crisis hotline, and tutoring or job training programs for the underprivileged (Wakslak et al., 2007).

How Do We Know System Justification is Motivated? Many scholars and others are prepared to believe that attitudes and behaviors are commonly system-justifying in their consequences, but not necessarily that people are motivated to see the societal status quo as fair, legitimate, and desirable. Some skeptics suggest that those who acquiesce are simply the passive recipients of ideology or are compelled by authorities to comply with the status quo, but they do not really believe in it. Other researchers might accept that system-justifying attitudes are internalized because of social learning but deny that they have a motivational basis (e.g., Huddy, 2004; Mitchell & Tetlock, 2009; Reicher, 2004; Rubin & Hewstone, 2004). These theoretical alternatives provide an opportunity to clarify our theoretical claims and to assess the empirical evidence for our specific propositions. In particular, we believe that these alternative interpretations underestimate the pervasiveness and goal-directed nature of system justification tendencies, that is, the ways in which people actively and purposively (but not necessarily consciously) rationalize existing social arrangements (Jost, Pietrzak, Liviatan, Mandisodza, & Napier, 2007; Kay et al., 2009). They also overestimate the extent to which system-justifying beliefs will be responsive to reason and evidence and are therefore unrealistically optimistic about the prospects for social change. It should be pointed out that even if we are correct that system justification is a motivated process, this does not mean that people who engage in it are either


J.T. Jost et al.

irrational or malevolent. Rather, we have suggested that system justification serves a host of normal, typically adaptive epistemic, existential, and relational needs. In the remainder of this chapter we briefly describe five lines of evidence that, especially in conjunction, lead to the conclusion that system justification is a motivated, goal-directed process. Specifically, we will show that: (1) System justification is linked to individual differences in self-deception and ideological motivation; (2) Situations of system threat elicit defensive responses on behalf of the system; (3) System justification produces selective, biased informationprocessing in favor of system-serving conclusions; (4) System justification exhibits several other properties of goal pursuit; and (5) The desire to make the system look good and fair inspires behavioral efforts in terms of task persistence and performance.

Self-Deception and Ideological Motives Conceptualizing system justification as a goal-directed process suggests that its strength should be correlated with individual differences in certain motives as well as the endorsement of ideological beliefs that are supportive of the status quo (see also Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, & Sulloway, 2003). In our view, system justification frequently involves distorted perceptions of the status quo (i.e., a process of selfdeception). Thus, individuals’ endorsement of system-justifying belief systems, such as political conservatism, should be correlated with their scores on selfdeception even in nonpolitical contexts. The available evidence suggests that such a link does exist. In a study involving over 8,500 online respondents, we observed a modest but consistent linear relationship between conservatism and self-deception, r (8629) ¼ .12, p < .0001, as well as a weaker but significant relationship between conservatism and impression management, r (8747) ¼ .07, p < .0001 (see Jost, Liviatan, et al., 2010, Fig. 8.1). And in several studies involving MBA and non-MBA students, Jost, Blount et al. (2003) found that the endorsement of “Fair Market Ideology,” the belief that market-based procedures and outcomes are inherently fair and just, was widespread and correlated with self-deception and belief in a just world.

Ideological Defensiveness Following System Threat It is well known that conservative Republican President George W. Bush’s approval rating shot up 40 percentage points immediately after the events of September 11, 2001, even before he had time to do anything about the threat of terrorism, and it stayed very high (around 70% or more) for about a year. One possibility is that these effects were due to the President’s personal charisma or leadership style (Cohen, Ogilvie, Solomon, Greenberg, & Pyszczynski, 2005), but

System Justification: A Motivational Process with Implications for Social Conflict


an alternative explanation is that system threat stimulates ideological defense of the social system and its representatives. The latter account is more plausible because, according to the results of Gallup Polls, Americans’ opinions of nearly every system-level authority and agency became more favorable in the aftermath of 9/11, including Congress, the military, and the police (Jones, 2003). Because there are always many influences on public opinion that are difficult to disentangle, it is necessary to use laboratory methods to investigate cause and effect. In one experimental paradigm, participants are exposed to one of two passages, ostensibly written by a journalist, and they are instructed to try to remember the passage for a memory test later in the experiment. One of these passages is threatening to the legitimacy and stability of the system, whereas the other is not (see Jost, Kivetz, Rubini, Guermandi, & Mosso, 2005, Study 3). Exposure to the high (vs. low) system threat passage does not significantly affect individual or collective self-esteem (Kay, Jost, & Young, 2005), but it does lead to a (presumably temporary) decrease in the perceived legitimacy of the status quo. Our motivational account suggests that the threat should cause people to bolster the sagging legitimacy of the system (either directly or indirectly) when they have an opportunity to do so. As hypothesized, participants assigned to the high system threat condition rate powerful people as more intelligent and more independent and the powerless as less intelligent and independent. Similarly, system threat increases judgments of obese people as lazier but more sociable, relative to normal weight people (Kay et al., 2005). Ullrich and Cohrs (2007) conducted four experiments in which they exposed participants to a different kind of system threat—one in which the salience of terrorism as a threat to the social order was emphasized. This manipulation led participants to score significantly higher (compared to various control conditions) on a German translation of Kay and Jost’s (2003) general or diffuse system justification scale. Evidence from multiple laboratories and several countries, then, shows that system threat leads people to respond defensively on behalf of the social system.

Biased Information Processing on Behalf of the System A third line of research has provided evidence suggesting that people engage in selective, biased information processing in order to reach system-justifying conclusions. Moreover, supporting the idea that such processes are goal-directed, evidence has shown that these biases are sensitive to personal and situational factors that are linked to system justification motivation. For instance, Haines and Jost (2000) found that people misremembered the reasons for the power differences as being more fair and legitimate than they actually were, recalling legitimate explanations when no explanation or even illegitimate explanations were given. Research by van der Toorn, Tyler, and Jost (2011) suggests that experiences of


J.T. Jost et al.

outcome dependence lead people to enhance the perceived legitimacy of authorities and institutions on which they depend. Ledgerwood, Mandizodza, Jost and Pohl (2011) demonstrated that people see research evidence as stronger and more valid when it supports (vs. challenges) the meritocratic notion that hard work invariably leads to economic success (cf. McCoy & Major, 2007). Specifically, participants read and evaluated one study concluding that hard work and determination lead to success (pro-meritocracy), and another study concluding that there is no correlation (anti-meritocracy). As hypothesized, we found that participants judged the same study procedure as “more convincing” and “well-conducted” when it supported the pro-meritocracy (vs. anti-meritocracy) conclusion. This was not just a case of people rationalizing their own personal, prior beliefs; the same pattern of results was evidence for those who explicitly disagreed (in a pre-testing session held months earlier) that the U.S. is a meritocratic society in practice. Furthermore, pro-meritocratic bias was exacerbated by system threat; under these circumstances the studies supporting the existence of meritocracy were seen as even more convincing.

System Justification Exhibits Other Properties of Goal Pursuit According to the goal pursuit property of equifinality, there are multiple, functionally interchangeable means of attaining a goal. Several studies show that people employ different strategies to satisfy the system justification goal, including complementary stereotypic differentiation and more direct forms of system affirmation. In one experiment, participants were exposed to either a high or low system threat passage; afterward, some participants were given the opportunity to justify the system on political grounds and others to justify the system on economic grounds (see Jost et al., 2010). We found that (adjusting for baseline levels of political orientation and system justification), being assigned to the high (vs. low) system threat condition led to an increase in whichever type of system justification (economic or political) participants had the opportunity to endorse first. The degree of system justification on that first measure was associated with a significant decrease in negative affect and a slight increase in positive affect. Furthermore, the residual negative affect following the first system justification opportunity significantly predicted the degree of system justification in the second opportunity. So, it appears that (a) system justification reduces negative affect, and (b) negative affect instigates further attempts at system justification. System justification processes exhibit the property of multifinality as well. That is, attaining the system justification goal satisfies multiple needs, making it a potentially powerful motivational force. We theorize that system justification satisfies at least three important types of psychological needs, including: epistemic needs to reduce uncertainty and create a stable, predictable worldview; existential needs to manage threat and to perceive a safe, reassuring environment; and relational needs to achieve shared reality with important others, including friends and family members who have

System Justification: A Motivational Process with Implications for Social Conflict


system justification needs of their own (see Jost, Ledgerwood, & Hardin, 2008). This last idea is consistent with research suggesting that it is normative for people to derogate those who are seen as complaining about discrimination and injustice as well as those who seek to challenge or reform the status quo (Diekman & Goodfriend, 2007; Kaiser et al., 2006). That is, it may be easier to establish common ground concerning system-justifying (vs. system-challenging) beliefs.

System Justification Inspires Behavioral Effort Our fifth line of evidence for the motivational basis of system justification is that the desire to make the system look good can inspire task persistence and performance, both of which are classic features of goal pursuit (e.g., Bargh, Gollwitzer, Lee-Chai, Barndollar, & Trotschl, 2001). Ledgerwood and colleagues (2011) hypothesized that people would work harder when their behavior was seen as diagnostic of the American system and when successful performance could be seen as contributing to the legitimacy of that system. To measure behavioral effort, we asked college students to work on an anagram task and manipulated whether the instructions attributed success on the task to luck or to effort. This factor was crossed with a manipulation of whether the task was framed as irrelevant or relevant to evaluating the legitimacy of American society. Results revealed that when the task was seen as system-irrelevant, people performed better when they believed that effort led to success than when they believed that luck was responsible. When the task was seen as diagnostic of American society, however, they worked harder and were more accurate in solving anagrams in an apparent effort to affirm that our system is in fact a meritocratic and therefore highly legitimate one. An experimental replication demonstrated that even people who self-consciously rejected the notion that society is meritocratic put behavioral effort into defending the system against anti-meritocratic insinuations, but only when the task was seen as diagnostic of American society. Thus, it appears that the motivation to defend, bolster, and justify the societal status quo can inspire people to expend more effort than they otherwise would in order to restore the perceived legitimacy of the system.

Concluding Remarks: Implications for Social Conflict We can safely conclude that system justification motivation suppresses some types of social conflict (e.g., between rich and poor) while encouraging other types that are part of an entrenched status quo (e.g., the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). For the most part, social psychologists are in the business of reducing social conflict; this is understandable, given the terrible toll that intense and protracted forms of conflict inflict on participants as well as observers. However, as Krochik and Jost (2011)


J.T. Jost et al.

observed, it is not necessarily desirable to minimize all forms of ideological conflict, insofar as society benefits (in the long run) from people who are willing to “upset the apple cart,” that is, to embrace conflict by protesting against the status quo. The difficulty, of course, is in distinguishing between those circumstances in which the claims of justice trump the desire for social stability from those in which the costs of social conflict (and change) clearly outweigh the benefits. Kurt Lewin (1947) wrote that: “The study of the conditions for change begins appropriately with an analysis of the conditions for ‘no change,’ that is for the state of equilibrium” (p. 208). For this reason, we have emphasized the social and psychological barriers to change, that is, the ways in which system justification motivation disproportionately stabilizes the status quo. Our hope is that advances in system justification theory will not only help human beings to overcome the “merciful mechanism” that prevents recognition of unfairness and inequality in society. It should also help us to promote a world in which cooperation and adherence to justice principles such as equity, equality, and need are not merely palliative fictions, but pillars of reality.

Authors’ Note This chapter is an edited, abridged, updated, and revised version of: Jost, J. T., Liviatan, I., van der Toorn, J., Ledgerwood, A., Mandisodza, A., & Nosek, B. A. (2010). System justification: How do we know it’s motivated? In R. C. Bobocel, A. C. Kay, M. Zanna, & J. Olson (Eds.), The psychology of justice and legitimacy: The Ontario symposium (Vol. 11, pp. 173–203). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

References Ashburn-Nardo, L., & Johnson, N. (2008). Implicit outgroup favoritism and intergroup judgment: The moderating role of stereotypic content. Social Justice Research, 21(4), 490–508. Ashburn-Nardo, L., Knowles, M. L., & Monteith, M. J. (2003). Black Americans’ implicit racial associations and their implications for intergroup judgment. Social Cognition, 21, 61–87. Auden, W. H. (1977). The English Auden: Poems, essays, and dramatic writings 1927–1939 (E. Mendelson, Ed.). London, UK: Faber & Faber. (Original work published in 1939) Bargh, J. A., Gollwitzer, P. M., Lee-Chai, A., Barndollar, K., & Trotschel, R. (2001). The automated will: Nonconscious activation and pursuit of behavioral goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 1014–1027. Blasi, G., & Jost, J. T. (2006). System justification theory and research: Implications for law, legal advocacy, and social justice. California Law Review, 94, 1119–1168. Cohen, F., Ogilvie, D. M., Solomon, S., Greenberg, J., & Pyszczynski, T. (2005). American roulette: The effect of reminders of death on support for George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 5, 177–187. Dasgupta, N. (2004). Implicit ingroup favoritism, outgroup favoritism, and their behavioral manifestations. Social Justice Research, 17, 143–169.

System Justification: A Motivational Process with Implications for Social Conflict


Deutsch, M. (1974). Awakening the sense of injustice. In M. Lerner & M. Ross (Eds.), The quest for justice: Myth, reality, ideal (pp. 19–42). Montreal, CA: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Diekman, A. B., & Goodfriend, W. (2007). The good and bad of social change: Ambivalence towards activist groups. Social Justice Research, 20, 401–417. Frank, T. (2004). What’s the matter with Kansas? New York, NY: Metropolitan Books. Ghose, S. (2003). The Dalit in India. Social Research, 70, 83–109. Gurr, T. R. (1970). Why men rebel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Haines, E., & Jost, J. T. (2000). Placating the powerless: Effects of legitimate and illegitimate explanation on affect, memory, and stereotyping. Social Justice Research, 13, 219–236. Henry, P. J., & Saul, A. (2006). The development of system justification in the developing world. Social Justice Research, 19, 365–378. Huddy, L. (2004). Contrasting theoretical approaches to intergroup relations. Political Psychology, 25, 947–967. Jones, J. M. (2003, September 9). Sept. 11 effects, though largely faded, persist. The Gallup Poll. Retrieved on September 27, 2004 from www.gallup.com/poll.content/?ci¼9208 Jost, J. T. (2011). System justification theory as compliment, complement, and corrective to theories of social identification and social dominance. In D. Dunning (Ed.), Social motivation (pp. 223–263). New York, NY: Psychology Press. Jost, J. T., & Banaji, M. R. (1994). The role of stereotyping in system-justification and the production of false consciousness. British Journal of Social Psychology, 33, 1–27. Jost, J. T., & Hamilton, D. L. (2005). Stereotypes in our culture. In J. Dovidio, P. Glick, & L. Rudman (Eds.), On the nature of prejudice: Fifty years after Allport (pp. 208–224). Oxford, UK: Blackwell. Jost, J. T., & Hunyady, O. (2002). The psychology of system justification and the palliative function of ideology. European Review of Social Psychology, 13, 111–153. Jost, J. T., & Hunyady, O. (2005). Antecedents and consequences of system-justifying ideologies. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 260–265. Jost, J. T., & Kay, A. C. (2010). Social justice: History, theory, and research. In S. T. Fiske, D. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (5th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 1122–1165). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Jost, J. T., & Thompson, E. P. (2000). Group-based dominance and opposition to equality as independent predictors of self-esteem, ethnocentrism, and social policy attitudes among African Americans and European Americans. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 36, 209–232. Jost, J. T., Banaji, M. R., & Nosek, B. A. (2004). A decade of system justification theory: Accumulated evidence of conscious and unconscious bolstering of the status quo. Political Psychology, 25, 881–919. Jost, J. T., Blount, S., Pfeffer, J., & Hunyady, G. (2003). Fair market ideology: Its cognitivemotivational underpinnings. Research in Organizational Behavior, 25, 53–91. Jost, J. T., Burgess, D., & Mosso, C. (2001). Conflicts of legitimation among self, group, and system: The integrative potential of system justification theory. In J. T. Jost & B. Major (Eds.), The psychology of legitimacy: Emerging perspectives on ideology, justice, and intergroup relations (pp. 363–388). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Jost, J. T., Glaser, J., Kruglanski, A. W., & Sulloway, F. (2003). Political conservatism as motivated social cognition. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 339–375. Jost, J. T., Kivetz, Y., Rubini, M., Guermandi, G., & Mosso, C. (2005). System-justifying functions of complementary regional and ethnic stereotypes: Cross-national evidence. Social Justice Research, 18, 305–333. Jost, J. T., Ledgerwood, A., & Hardin, C. D. (2008). Shared reality, system justification, and the relational basis of ideological beliefs. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2, 171–186. Jost, J. T., Liviatan, I., van der Toorn, J., Ledgerwood, A., Mandisodza, A., & Nosek, B. A. (2010). System justification: How do we know it’s motivated? In R. C. Bobocel, A. C. Kay, M. Zanna, & J. Olson (Eds.), The psychology of justice and legitimacy: The Ontario symposium (Vol. 11, pp. 173–203). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.


J.T. Jost et al.

Jost, J. T., Nosek, B. A., & Gosling, S. D. (2008). Ideology: Its resurgence in social, personality, and political psychology. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 126–136. Jost, J. T., Pelham, B. W., & Carvallo, M. (2002). Non-conscious forms of system justification: Cognitive, affective, and behavioral preferences for higher status groups. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 586–602. Jost, J. T., Pelham, B. W., Sheldon, O., & Sullivan, B. N. (2003). Social inequality and the reduction of ideological dissonance on behalf of the system: Evidence of enhanced system justification among the disadvantaged. European Journal of Social Psychology, 33, 13–36. Jost, J. T., Pietrzak, J., Liviatan, I., Mandisodza, A., & Napier, J. (2007). System justification as conscious and nonconscious goal pursuit. In J. Shah & W. Gardner (Eds.), Handbook of motivation science. New York, NY: Guilford. Jost, J. T., Wakslak, C., & Tyler, T. R. (2008). System justification theory and the alleviation of emotional distress: Palliative effects of ideology in an arbitrary social hierarchy and in society. In K. Hegtvedt & J. Clay-Warner (Eds.), Justice: Advances in group processes (Vol. 25, pp. 181–211). Bingley, UK: JAI/Emerald. Kaiser, C. R., Dyrenforth, P. S., & Hagiwara, N. (2006). Why are attributions to discrimination interpersonally costly? A test of system- and group-justifying motivations. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 1423–1536. Kay, A. C., & Jost, J. T. (2003). Complementary justice: Effects of “poor but happy” and “poor but honest” stereotype exemplars on system justification and implicit activation of the justice motive. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 823–837. Kay, A. C., & Zanna, M. (2009). A contextual analysis of the system justification motive and its societal consequences. In J. T. Jost, A. C. Kay, & H. Thorisdottir (Eds.), Social and psychological bases of ideology and system justification. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Kay, A. C., Gaucher, D., Peach, J. M., Friesen, J., Laurin, K., Zanna, M., et al. (2009). Inequality, discrimination, and the power of the status quo: Direct evidence for a motivation to view what is as what should be. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 421–434. Kay, A. C., Jost, J. T., & Young, S. (2005). Victim-derogation and victim-enhancement as alternate routes to system-justification. Psychological Science, 16, 240–246. Kay, A. C., Jost, J. T., Mandisodza, A. N., Sherman, S. J., Petrocelli, J. V., & Johnson, A. L. (2007). Panglossian ideology in the service of system justification: How complementary stereotypes help us to rationalize inequality. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 305–358. Krochik, M., & Jost, J. T. (2011). Ideological conflict and polarization: A social psychological perspective. In D. Bar-Tal (Ed.), Intergroup conflicts and their resolution: Social psychological perspective. New York, NY: Psychology Press. Ledgerwood, A., Mandisodza, A., Jost, J. T., & Pohl, M. (2011). Working for the system: Motivated defense of meritocratic beliefs. Social Cognition, 29, 323–341. Lerner, M. J. (1980). The belief in a just world: A fundamental delusion. New York, NY: Plenum Press. Lewin, K. (1947). Frontiers in group dynamics: Concept, method and reality in social science; Social equilibria and social change. Human Relations, 1, 5–41. McCoy, S. K., & Major, B. (2007). Priming meritocracy and the psychological justification of inequality. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 341–351. Mishel, L., Bernstein, J., & Allegretta, S. (2005). The state of working America 2004/2005. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Mitchell, G., & Tetlock, P. E. (2009). Disentangling reasons and rationalizations: Exploring perceived fairness in hypothetical societies. In J. T. Jost, A. C. Kay, & H. Thorisdottir (Eds.), Social and psychological bases of ideology and system justification. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Montada, L., & Schneider, A. (1989). Justice and emotional reactions to the disadvantaged. Social Justice Research, 3, 313–344. Napier, J. L., & Jost, J. T. (2008). Why are conservatives happier than liberals? Psychological Science, 19, 565–572.

System Justification: A Motivational Process with Implications for Social Conflict


National Index of Violence and Harm (2007, November 17). Last decade sees closing poverty gap between minorities and whites, young and old, women and men. Large income gap between rich and poor persists. Retrieved online 30 March, 2008 from http://www.manchester.edu/ links/violenceindex O’Brien, L. T., & Major, B. (2005). System justifying beliefs and psychological well-being: The roles of group status and identity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 1718–1729. Reicher, S.S. (2004). The context of social identity: Dominance, resistance, and change. Political Psychology, 25, 921–645. Rubin, M., & Hewstone, M. (2004). Social identity, system justification, and social dominance: Commentary on Reicher, Jost et al., and Sidanius et al. Political Psychology, 25, 823–844. Rudman, L. A., Feinberg, J., & Fairchild, K. (2002). Minority members’ implicit attitudes: Automatic ingroup bias as a function of group status. Social Cognition, 20, 294–320. Scott, J. (1990). Domination and the arts of resistance. New Haven, CT: Yale University. Sidanius, J., & Pratto, F. (1999). Social dominance: An intergroup theory of social hierarchy and oppression. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Simon, B., & Klandermans, B. (2001). Politicized collective identity: A social psychological analysis. American Psychologist, 56, 319–331. Spears, R., Jetten, J., & Doosje, B. (2001). The (il)legitimacy of ingroup bias: From social reality to social resistance. In J. T. Jost & B. Major (Eds.), The psychology of legitimacy: Emerging perspectives on ideology, justice, and intergroup relations (pp. 332–362). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Stiglitz, J. E. (2004). The roaring nineties. New York, NY: Norton. Thomas, E. F., McGarty, C., & Mavor, K. I. (2009). Transforming ‘apathy into movement’: The role of prosocial emotions in motivating action for social change. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 13, 310–333. Uhlmann, E., Dasgupta, N., Elgueta, A., Greenwald, A. G., & Swanson, J. E. (2002). Subgroup prejudice based on skin color among Hispanics in the United States and Latin America. Social Cognition, 20, 198–225. Ullrich, J., & Cohrs, J. C. (2007). Terrorism salience increases system justification: Experimental evidence. Social Justice Research, 20, 117–139. USA Today (2006, August 29). Rising economic tide fails to lift poor, middle class. Retrieved 30 March, 2008 from: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/2006-08-29-economy_x.htm van der Toorn, J., Tyler, T. R., & Jost, J. T. (2011). More than fair: Outcome dependence, system justification, and the perceived legitimacy of authority figures. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 127–138. Wakslak, C. J., Jost, J. T., Tyler, T. R., & Chen, E. S. (2007). Moral outrage mediates the dampening effect of system justification on support for redistributive social policies. Psychological Science, 18, 267–274.


Are the Media Capable of Fair Reporting? Remarks on the Principle of Fairness in Professional Journalism Klaus-Dieter Altmeppen, Klaus Arnold, and Tanja K€ossler

Abstract The aim of this contribution is to discuss the concept of fairness in journalism. Fairness as well as the principle of justice are no keywords in journalism and journalism research. Thus, the analysis concentrates on the role the fairness principle plays in more common concepts like ‘media ethics’, ‘objectivity’, or ‘journalistic professionalism’. In these perspectives fairness usually means to consider the entire aspects of public communication. Journalists constantly are faced with those challenges. To guarantee a fair reporting professional standards and social responsibility of journalism are meaningful impacts. Nevertheless, the different conditions of being fair to the sources of information as well as to the audience leads to the thesis that journalism cannot always be fair since it cannot cope with the expectations of all groups and all aspects of public communication. The news coverage is a result of individual constructions of reality and the result of a greater number of organizational and institutional impacts. Thus, the news coverage cannot cope with everybody’s expectations. Paradoxically, in some situations journalism can only be fair, when it is unfair. Furthermore, when journalism has to perform critics and control, it should not be fair. As journalism is seen as ‘fourth estate’, unfair reporting is just and reasonable in some cases.

Fairness and Unfairness in Journalism The right to free speech is a basic right in democratic societies, but are people truly able to say or write whatever they want? For everyday communication, there are some basic restrictions, laws, conventions, and implicit rules for small talk as well

K.-D. Altmeppen (*) • T. K€ ossler Department of Journalism, Catholic University Eichst€att-Ingolstadt, Eichst€att, Germany e-mail: [email protected] K. Arnold Department of Communication, University of Trier, Trier, Germany E. Kals and J. Maes (eds.), Justice and Conflicts, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-19035-3_20, # Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012



K.-D. Altmeppen et al.

as for formal conversation in negotiations and commissions. Freedom of speech is also governed by rules in the field of mass communication, especially in its most important form: journalism. On the one hand, journalism in modern societies has developed professional and ethical norms; on the other hand, journalism is restricted by human rights and media law. Thus, not even journalists are allowed to report whatever they want. An important norm in terms of setting rules governing the right to free speech is the principle of fairness. Journalists are expected to be fair to their sources of information as well as to their audience. But what does fairness mean for these different groups? How can journalists reconcile the fairness required in their contact with sources with the fairness expected by the audience? And more generally: Does fairness have the same meaning as justice or equity? How can journalists be fair, how can they ensure equity while investigating a scandal? What are the norms of fairness and equity, and what rules are relevant in journalism? In addition, as revealed in many content analyses (McQuail, 1992), reporting is never entirely fair, which gives rise to a number of questions: Are there reasons for being ‘unfair’? Why is media coverage often more or less unfair? And finally, should media always be fair? What types of situations, events, or issues lead to or claim for unfairness? Below, we discuss the principle of fairness in journalism and seek to answer the above questions.

Fairness in Society and Journalism The principle of fairness in journalism is based on the philosophical principle of justice. According to Rawls (1971, p. 3), justice is “the first virtue of social institutions”. Some kind of justice in a society is essential because necessary or desired goods like the news coverage are usually scarce and people have different perceptions about what they need to ensure their own welfare. Competing requirements and interests lead to conflicts. To control such conflicts, an adequate solution is required (Holzleithner, 2009). However, even journalism is a social institution, and news coverage is not the result of the work of individual journalists: it depends much more on specific organisational settings in the newsroom, the roles of various positions, the pre-settings determined by the goals of the journalistic organisation, and the influences of various technologies. Even if the individual level, with its analysis of role perception, for example, is of importance, the individual journalist is always embedded in organisational and institutional patterns that, as pre-arranged structures, influence journalists’ work and behaviour in the newsroom (Altmeppen, 2008). These institutions shall assure the professional performance of journalism and they enable journalism to control and to solve conflicts. In the tradition of Classical Greece, justice requires that everybody should receive what is due or owed. And according to Aristotle, equal things should be treated equal, and unequal things unequal. But what is owed to a person? And what criteria should be used to judge if a treatment is equal or unequal? Today, it is

Are the Media Capable of Fair Reporting? Remarks on the Principle of Fairness


widely accepted that all people are equal and that everyone has the right to be respected and to achieve some kind of self-fulfilment. But, this does not mean everybody must be treated in the same way. In the process of the distribution of public goods, individual, structural, and social specifics must be considered. It is difficult to find a balance between the principle of equality and the question “what is owed to a person” (Holzleithner, 2009, pp. 11–12). Journalism has to balance the public requirements, e.g., it has to yield the functions of information and critic and control with the claims of the people it reports about. That relation constantly causes conflicts about the justice of the media coverage. How do theories of justice answer to this problem? Among the many current theories on justice, three are dominant. First, libertarian positions (e.g., Hayek, 1960) refute the idea of social justice. The free and morally responsible individual is engaged in the free market, and unrestricted markets provide better opportunities and living conditions for everybody. In this context, only a basic legal framework is acceptable. Second, and opposing this first view, are communitarian or egalitarian perspectives. Communitarianism is sceptical about the overemphasis of individualism: the self is not an independent entity, but is ’inexorably linked’ to others and to the community (Sandel, 1982). Justice is rooted in a common good and in day-to-day codes of practice. Finally, Liberalism is located somewhere between the above perspectives. John Rawls’s “Theory of Justice” (1971) is probably the most influential and prominent work on justice in the 20th century. To attain commonly shared principles of justice in pluralistic societies, Rawls develops the idea of a hypothetical “original position” about which he states, no one knows his place in society, his class position or social status nor does any one know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength, and the like. I shall even assume that the parties do not know their conceptions of good or their special psychological propensities. The principles of justice are chosen behind a veil of ignorance (Rawls, 1971, p. 12).

In this situation, the free and equal, rational-thinking parties will generalise on a neutral basis and will decide on two principles: First, “each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others.” And second, “social and economical inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both (a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality and opportunity” (Rawls, 1971, pp. 60, 83). Several authors on media ethics have discussed and applied Rawls’s perspective (Christians et al., 1987; Day, 1991; Lambeth, 1992; Patterson & Wilkins, 1994; Smith, 2003; for an overview, see Craig, 2009). For example, Lambeth (1992, p. 29) argues that Rawls provides a strong theoretical basis for the watchdog role of the news media. A just journalist should ask critical questions in covering the major institutions of societies, including “Are agreed upon rules and procedures followed consistently and uniformly?” and “Do some groups have more access than others to the policymaking process?” Christians et al. (1987, pp. 14–15) consider that the


K.-D. Altmeppen et al.

concept of the veil supports the protection of privacy in news reporting and provides an argument in support of the need for basic respect for all humans. However, although the veil protects privacy, it also supports disparity because access to publicity depends on the power or powerlessness of those who are the subjects of news coverage. Disparity occurs because, on one hand, the ‘mighty’ people are greedy for publicity, while on the other hand, they seek to control which topics, pictures, or stories about their life are made public. One well-known example in this regard is Caroline of Monaco and the Monaco royal family, who require publicity for their charities, for example, but who also strive for control the types of stories and pictures of them presented in the news. This conflict is the first hint of the problematic meaning of the term ‘justice’. Whose justice is represented in the news coverage: that of the sources or of the persons covered in the story or of the public with its demand that news coverage be free of censorship? The crucial question for news reporters is this: Who decides on the veil, its closeness, its necessity and the insights behind the veil? Journalists are challenged to decide on what represents basic information, and what are important events and issues in politics and in other relevant fields of society. Their opponents are commonly as powerful as the journalists themselves in terms of the struggle regarding what is to be made public. Rawls emphasizes the importance of protecting the weakest parties in society. The adoption of this stance in journalism leads to a more subjective or advocational journalism as a justified means of counteracting those in power. However, the concept of justice has been a matter of low priority in journalism and in journalism research. Fairness is not a keyword in the field: the discussion is centered on terms such as ‘ethical principles’, ‘objectivity’, and ‘issues of professionalism’. To arrive at the meaning of fairness in journalism, we must approach it from a different angle. In the first instance, this is from the viewpoints of ethics and objectivity.

Fairness and Ethics In principle, ethics refers to “die wissenschaftliche Besch€aftigung mit Genese und Anwendung von Normen“ [the scientific occupation with the genesis and application of norms] (Schicha & Brosda, 2010a, p. 10ff). Media ethics, as a special case of ethics, can be derived from targets formulated for human communication: consistency, truthfulness, argumentativity, fairness, and freedom from external constraints. What makes media communication so complex is that in order to be perceived publicly, it has to penetrate the power structures of the media system and it must be approved by several authorities. Furthermore, there is at least one journalistic function that is consistently and inevitably in conflict with the principle of fairness: “Medien haben im Rahmen ihrer Kritik- und Kontrollfunktion die Aufgabe, gesellschaftlich relevante Skandale aufzudecken und € offentlich zu machen“ [In holding the function of critique and

Are the Media Capable of Fair Reporting? Remarks on the Principle of Fairness


control, the media have a duty to uncover scandals relevant to society and to make them public] (Schicha & Brosda, 2010b, p. 373). In this sense, the media must always take different parties into account. For journalists, this means finding a balance between their own comprehension of a fair and ethical behaviour, and the understanding of the public, the subject of the story, and the demands of the media enterprise they work for. Accordingly, the concept of fairness in journalism is far from an idealistic ethical approach, and closer to the types of ethical concepts which seem to be more suitable in terms of fairness in journalism. In turn, utilitarian ethics gives rise to a dilemma for journalists, especially in recent times, given the overwhelming economization of the media sector. Journalists work under the pressures of cost control and reduced resources because media companies expect to obtain the ‘maximum profit’. The mechanisms of this benefit clash with other benefits, such as the expectations of the audience to be well informed or the benefit of the sources, who are concerned with the way in which their information is reported by journalists. Again, with regard to practices in journalism, freedom of the press appears to be incompatible with fair reporting. A general rule in journalism, which has been applied in recent years, is that reports based on interviews are sent to the interviewee for proofing before being published. The sources regard this as a fair process, but at the same time they seek to delete problematic statements. In such a case, it is important to consider exactly what is fair-minded: the standard of journalism or the requirements of the source? In summary, one can say that “the principle of fairness, when translated into rules of procedure, means, when questions of wrong-doing are at issue, reporters must attempt to determine the truth of the allegations and give the accused the opportunity to reply” (Iggers, 1999, p. 42). This approach means that all points of view should be considered in the public media discussion. This understanding of the wise handling of the fairness principle in journalism practice leads to one of the most popular terms concerning the adaptability of media ethics in the professional working environment: objectivity.

Fairness and Objectivity The doctrine of journalism objectivity was developed in the 1920s after almost a century of anticipation in the popular press. After the First World War, the term ‘objectivity’ and the underlying idea became a common and fundamental principle for the daily work of journalists, and was specifically mentioned in numerous press codes and ethical debates. The early definitions of objectivity already resembled the definition used today. Important keywords from the two major statements on ethics (the 1923 code of the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) and the 1926 code of Sigma Delta Chi) were responsibility, freedom of the press, independence, truthfulness, impartiality and decency (Ward, 2006, pp. 214–215). In the following years, journalists “pointed to forms of journalism that embodied the objective norms of fairness, balance, impartiality, and verified facts”. Furthermore, the idea


K.-D. Altmeppen et al.

of objectivity was regarded as “a prime characteristic of a professional journalist” (Ward, 2006, p. 219). In this comprehension,