Latest Results

Social Justice Research

Personal Versus General Belief in a Just World, Karma, and Well-Being: Evidence from Thailand and the UK

Abstract

The belief in a just world (BJW) is the belief that people get what they deserve and deserve what they get. The theory and research findings suggest that believing the world is fair to “me” (personal BJW or PBJW) is associated with positive psychological functioning, whereas believing that the world is fair to people in general (general BJW or GBJW) may not. Against a backdrop of mixed findings in samples recruited in Asian countries, we conducted two studies in Thailand (N = 177 and N = 175) and one in the UK (N = 345). Study 1 examined the relationships between PBJW, GBJW, life satisfaction, and depression in Thailand; Study 2 also included Karma and was conducted in Thailand and the UK. In both studies, PBJW uniquely predicted well-being. When controlling for BJW, belief in Karma positively predicted life satisfaction and depression only in the UK sample. In addition, Karma was uniquely predicted by GBJW but more strongly so in Thailand. Furthermore, within both samples, individuals endorsed PBJW more strongly than GBJW; comparing across samples, PBJW was more strongly endorsed in the UK than Thailand, whereas GBJW was more strongly endorsed in Thailand than the UK. However, sample nationality did not moderate associations between BJW, Karma and well-being. Results support the cultural generality of just world theory and the psychological priority of PBJW and indicate that the cultural concept of Karma does not explain relationships between just-world beliefs and well-being.

Judicial and Litigant Perceptions in Dutch Court Cases: Perceptions of Outcome Importance Overlap, Perceptions of Procedural Justice Diverge

Abstract

The current paper aims to provide insight into judges’ perceptions of how fairly they treat litigants and how important case outcomes are to litigants, and whether these perceptions relate to litigants' perceptions of procedural justice and outcome importance. Respondents were litigants involved in bankruptcy, landlord-tenant, and administrative law cases and judges handling these cases at the district court of the Mid-Netherlands. Both litigants and judges indicated outcome importance and procedural justice. Litigants also indicated their trust in judges. Multilevel analyses using hierarchical regression showed a positive association between judicial and litigant perceptions of outcome importance and no significant association between judges' and litigants’ perceptions of procedural justice. This indicates that whereas judges and litigants largely agreed on how important case outcomes were, their views about how fairly judges handled cases diverged. These insights enhance our understanding of linkages and discrepancies between judges' and litigants' views on important aspects of the legal system.

The Art of Being Ethical and Responsible: Print Media Debate on Final Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel in Finland and Sweden

Abstract

After decades of preparation, the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel has reached the construction stage in Finland, and the neighboring Sweden is likely to soon follow in the footsteps. These Nordic countries rely on a similar technical concept based on passive safety, advocated as a means of minimizing the burden to future generations. The scholarly literature on the ethics of nuclear waste management has thus far paid little attention to the views of the broader publics on the associated ethical challenges. This article helps to fill the gap through a longitudinal and comparative analysis of ethical discussion of the final disposal of SNF in news articles and letters to the editor in four leading Finnish and Swedish daily newspapers in 2008–2015. The study period included major milestones in the licensing processes of the respective two repository projects. The article examines the attention paid to intra- and intergenerational distributive and procedural justice, the changes in the ethical agenda over time, and the societal actor groups that receive attention in the media. The analysis reveals two distinct ethical media agendas: (1) the news article agenda that is dominated by framings of the main players (industry, politicians, authorities, and experts) and largely excludes future generations from the scope of justice, and (2) the agenda represented by the letters to the editor, which focuses on intergenerational justice concerns. Particularly, in the Finnish letters to the editor the value of the lives of distant future generations was discounted implicitly.

Mitigating Intergroup Conflict: Effectiveness of Qualifying Subjective Justice Views as an Intervention Technique in Comparison to Empathy Induction

Abstract

Intergroup conflicts can be triggered and perpetuated by collective perceptions of injustice. In two experiments, we applied the qualifying of subjective justice views, a justice-focused intervention initially introduced to resolve interpersonal conflicts, and evaluated whether it can mitigate intergroup conflicts. This intervention included explicating opposing justice perceptions, explaining the dilemma structure of justice conflicts, and emphasizing that each conflict party applies different justice standards in different situations. In a realistic conflict setting, among advantaged group members, the intervention enhanced the willingness to pay monetary concessions to the out-group. This effect was mediated through an enhanced understanding of the justice dilemma (Study 2) and legitimacy judgments of the out-group’s justice claim (Studies 1 and 2). Furthermore, effects of the justice-focused intervention were compared to those of empathy induction as a benchmark to evaluate the effectiveness. The comparison provided additional evidence for the effectiveness of the justice-focused intervention to mitigate intergroup conflicts.

A Multidimensional Approach to Intergenerational Balance Measurement: A Cross-Sectional Study for European Countries

Abstract

The demographic shift experienced by developed countries inevitably results in a change in intergenerational relations. However, despite some attempts to evaluate intergenerational balance in quantitative terms, there is still a significant literature gap in this respect. This paper aims to propose a conceptual and empirical framework to measure intergenerational balance in a cross-country perspective which can serve for the comparative assessment of the outcomes of various policies. It addresses the research question in which countries selected generations are privileged over others in socio-economic terms. Our empirical study includes the investigation of the (relative) situation of different generations as well as comparisons of gender differences in terms of studied welfare state performance across generations to examine whether gender equality in some generations is more promoted than in others. As a criterion, we employ multivariate statistical analysis methods to group 25 European countries into clusters using the intergenerational balance in terms of poverty, income, housing, labour market, education and health. We distinguish four patterns in this respect: ‘Supporting young’, ‘Supporting adult’, ‘Discriminating against elderly’ and ‘Supporting elderly’. Our findings reveal that shifting the perspective from inputs to outcomes and including gender perspective gives a somewhat different picture of Europe in terms of intergenerational balance.

The Role of Just World Beliefs in Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Abstract

This study investigated whether people’s personal belief in a just world (BJW) is linked to their willingness to physically distance themselves from others during the COVID-19 pandemic. Past research found personal BJW to be positively related to prosocial behavior, justice striving, and lower risk perceptions. If social distancing reflects a concern for others, high personal BJW should predict increased interest in social distancing. If social distancing reflects a concern for one’s personal risk, high personal BJW should predict decreased interest in social distancing. Results of a pre-registered internet-based study from Germany (N = 361) indicated that the higher people’s personal BJW, the more they generally practiced social distancing. This association still occurred when controlling for empathy, another significant predictor of social distancing. There were no mediation effects of empathy and risk perception. The findings extend knowledge on the correlates of social distancing in the COVID-19 pandemic which could be used to increase compliance among citizens.

The Effects of Gender Faultlines and Distribution of Rewards on Intragroup Power Struggles and Group Performance

Abstract

Despite the relevance and importance of distribution of rewards for group performance, especially groups with active faultlines, existing literature exploring these relationships is scarce. This study investigates the combined effects of gender faultlines and three particular conditions used for distribution of rewards on intragroup power struggles and group performance. The study hypothesizes that the relationship between gender faultlines and group performance is mediated by intragroup power struggles. It further posits that the distribution of rewards moderates the relationships between gender faultlines and intragroup power struggles, as well as gender faultlines and performance. The hypothesized relationships received empirical support in this experimental study using data from 396 participants nested in 99 groups. Specifically, we found that the positive effect of gender faultlines on intragroup power struggles was significant under inequity and equity conditions, but non-significant under equality condition. Further, the negative relationship between gender faultlines and performance was strengthened in the presence of inequity and equity conditions. Inequity condition resulted in the highest level of power struggles and lowest level of perceived and objective performances. Equity condition led to medium levels of power struggles and perceived performance but the highest level of objective performance. With equality condition, what ensued was the lowest level of power struggles, highest level of perceived performance, and medium level of objective performance. Managerial implications along with areas for future research are discussed.

Deliberating Inequality: A Blueprint for Studying the Social Formation of Beliefs about Economic Inequality

Abstract

In most contemporary societies, people underestimate the extent of economic inequality, resulting in lower support for taxation and redistribution than might be expressed by better informed citizens. We still know little, however, about how understandings of inequality arise, and therefore about where perceptions and misperceptions of it might come from. This methodological article takes one step toward filling this gap by developing a research design—a blueprint—to study how people’s understandings of wealth and income inequality develop through social interaction. Our approach combines insights from recent scholarship highlighting the socially situated character of inequality beliefs with those of survey experimental work testing how information about inequality changes people’s understandings of it. Specifically, we propose to use deliberative focus groups to approximate the interactional contexts in which individuals process information and form beliefs in social life. Leveraging an experimental methodology, our design then varies the social makeup of deliberative groups, as well as the information about inequality we share with participants, to explore how different types of social environments and information shape people’s understandings of economic inequality. This should let us test, in particular, whether the low socioeconomic diversity of people’s discussion and interaction networks relates to their tendency to underestimate inequality, and whether beliefs about opportunity explain people’s lack of appetite for redistributive policies. In this exploratory article we motivate our methodological apparatus and describe its key features, before reflecting on the findings from a proof-of-concept study conducted in London in the fall of 2019.

Inequality, Military Veteran Transitions, and Beyond: Compensatory Control Theory and Its Application to Real World Social Justice Problems

Introducing the Special Issue on “Social Justice: Lessons Learned and Needed Research”

Abstract

We introduce this special issue on “Social Justice: Lessons Learned and Needed Research.” The issue honors Early Career Award winners chosen by the International Society for Justice Research. The resulting articles represent notable contributions to the domain of research and theory on justice.

Injustice Without Evidence: The Unique Role of Conspiracy Theories in Social Justice Research

Abstract

Conspiracy theories are widespread and have a profound impact on society. The present contribution proposes that conspiracy theories are explanatory narratives that necessarily contain justice judgments, as they include attributions of blame and accusations of unethical or criminal conduct. Conspiratorial narratives also are mental simulations, however, and may elicit genuine feelings of injustice also without evidence of actual malpractice. Indeed, conspiracy theories sometimes describe unfair events that are unlikely to have occurred, unethical authorities that might not actually exist, and so on. Here I propose two complementary processes that stimulate belief in evidence-free conspiracy theories: (1) Existential threats instigate biased mental processing and motivated reasoning, that jointly promote an alternative perception of reality; and (2) group allegiances shape how people perceive, interpret, and remember facts to highlight the immoral qualities of competing outgroups. Due to these processes, conspiracy theories elicit a set of distinct reactions such as poor health choices and rejection of science. Moreover, evidence-free conspiracy theories require interventions beyond traditional approaches to install justice principles, such as debunking falsehoods and reducing polarized intergroup distinctions. I conclude that the scientific study of conspiracy theories is part of, and has a unique place in, social justice research.

A Person-Centered Approach to Understanding Endorsement of Restorative Justice in Response to Workplace Mistreatment

Abstract

There is growing body of research investigating endorsement of restorative justice as a response to interpersonal transgressions, but a limited understanding of how endorsement varies across different individuals—for whom is restorative justice seen as an appropriate response? The current research seeks to address this limitation by identifying natural heterogeneity in endorsement of restorative justice. We employ a policy-capturing within-subject design to examine restorative justice endorsement following workplace mistreatment by a supervisor at different levels of severity. Latent growth curve analyses indicated support for restorative justice increased with more unfair treatment, but following a concave, curvilinear slope. Latent class analysis suggested heterogeneity in endorsement patterns. Class 1 (66%) comprised individuals with a low initial level of restorative endorsement and a curvilinear growth trajectory as offense severity increased, while Class 2 (33%) comprised individuals with a medium initial level and a linear growth trajectory. We also examined victim-focused justice sensitivity as a predictor of class membership; but in line with past research, we did not find a significant relationship between victim sensitivity and restorative justice endorsement. These findings identify previously unrecognized heterogeneity in patterns of restorative justice endorsement, pointing to differences in the lay understanding of the when and where restorative processes should be applied. More broadly, this research illustrates how we can utilize person-centered approaches to shed new light on established justice research and theory.

Human–Algorithm Collaboration Works Best if Humans Lead (Because it is Fair!)

Abstract

Autonomous algorithms are increasingly being used by organizations to reach ever increasing heights of organizational efficiency. The emerging business model of today therefore appears to be one where autonomous algorithms are gradually expanding their occupation into becoming a leading decision-maker, and humans by default become increasingly more subordinate to such decisions. We address the question of whether this business perspective is consistent with the sort of collaboration employees want to have with algorithms at work. We explored this question by investigating in what way humans preferred to collaborate with algorithms when making decisions. Using two experimental studies (Study 1, n = 237; Study 2, n = 684), we show that humans consider the collaboration with autonomous algorithms as unfair when the algorithm leads decision-making and will even incur high financial costs in order to avoid this. Our results also show that humans do not want to exclude algorithms entirely but seem to prefer a 60–40% human–algorithm partnership. These findings contrast the position taken by today’s emerging business model on the issue of automated organizational decision-making. Our findings also provide support for the existence of an implicit theory—held by both present and future employees—that humans should lead and algorithms follow.

Justice Sensitivity in Intergroup Contexts: A Theoretical Framework

Abstract

Individuals differ systematically in how much they are concerned with matters of justice or injustice. So far, in various domains of life, such as romantic relationships, work, and school contexts, dispositional justice sensitivity has been found to be a powerful predictor of individual-level processing and interpersonal behaviors. Yet, matters of justice and injustice often materialize at the group level, especially when conflicts about status, rights, and resources occur between groups. Here, we propose a theoretical framework to understand how different facets of justice sensitivity (i.e., victim, beneficiary/perpetrator, and observer sensitivities) are relevant for group-level processes in intergroup contexts. Integrating research on justice sensitivity and intergroup conflict, we develop several propositions regarding how and under which conditions justice sensitivity influences intergroup experiences, attitudes, and behaviors. We selectively review the existing empirical evidence that can speak to the validity of these propositions, and outline future research that can test our propositions.

“Poison to the Economy”: (Un-)Taxing the Wealthy in the German Federal Parliament from 1996 to 2016

Abstract

The concentration of wealth is a key component of the rise in economic inequality at the beginning of the twenty-first century. While the abolition of taxes on private wealth during the 1990s and 2000s is recognized as an important institutional driver behind this development, comparatively little is known about the justification of tax cuts for the wealthy in advanced democracies. This paper investigates how the abolishment of the personal net wealth tax in Germany, a country with high levels of wealth inequality, has been debated and justified in parliament over a period of 20 years. Using a mixed methods approach that combines computational social science methods and a qualitative analysis, we examine how Germany’s two major parties, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD), have variously construed the meaning and purpose of the wealth tax and justified their support for or opposition to it. While the Social Democrats debate the wealth tax primarily from a social justice perspective, the Christian Democrats rely on an efficiency frame that invokes biological metaphors, enabling them to narrate the wealth tax as a threat to the social body. Paradoxically, then, by arguing that the tax is “poison to the economy”, conservative discourse succeeds in linking opposition to the wealth tax to a principle of social unity. On these grounds, we suggest that future research should scrutinize how the interrelation between political discourse and institutional architectures has facilitated the rise of wealth inequality in recent decades.

“Caught in the Middle! Wealth Inequality and Conflict over Redistribution”

Abstract

A vast literature documents that wealth inequality has risen throughout advanced democracies, especially the accumulation of wealth among the rich. Yet, instead of increasing wealth redistribution, governments have done the seemingly opposite. Key to understanding why democratic governments do not increase wealth redistribution in times of rising inequalities is to shed light on the public’s preferences. In this paper, we map the public’s redistributive preferences in fourteen countries based on new survey data. We show that traditional socioeconomic cleavages in preferences for wealth redistribution are undermined by diverging mobility expectations. People who expect to climb up the wealth distribution, mostly lower wealth groups, are less supportive of redistribution than people with high stakes of major wealth losses, mainly upper wealth groups. We show that future expectations among the rich and the poor have a highly moderating role for the class conflict over wealth redistribution. Moreover, the middle class, the decisive group in democracies, is highly unresponsive to future prospects. The findings suggest that the middle class does not have much to lose or to win, and therefore, wealth redistribution is of low salience among this group.

When Explanations for Poverty Help Explain Social Policy Preferences: The Case of European Public Opinion Amidst the Economic Recession (2009–2014)

Abstract

Individuals hold beliefs about what causes poverty, and those beliefs have been theorized to explain policy preferences and ultimately cross-country variations in welfare states. However, there has been little empirical work on the effects of poverty attributions on welfare state attitudes. We seek to fill this gap by making use of Eurobarometer data from 27 European countries in the years 2009, 2010 and 2014 to explore the effects of poverty attributions on judgments about economic inequality as well as preferences regarding the welfare state. Relying on a four-type typology of poverty attribution which includes individual fate, individual blame, social fate and social blame as potential explanations for poverty, our analyses show that these poverty attributions are associated with judgments about inequality and broadly defined support for the welfare state, but have little or no effect on more concrete policy proposals such as unemployment benefits or increase of social welfare at the expense of higher taxes.

Framing Perceptions of Justice in a Public Goods Dilemma

Abstract

In a social dilemma, group members have equal access to collective resources, but each must decide between acting in self-interested or collectively interested ways when considering their contribution to the group. Our research focused on how the perceived fairness of contributions and outcomes affects these decisions. We report on an experiment that manipulated two factors related to fairness: dilemma-framing that emphasized either individual or collective gains, and whether the partner’s relative contribution was high, low, or equal to the subject’s. Also, subjects’ social value orientations—individualist vs. prosocial—were balanced across conditions. Subjects made two rounds of contribution decisions and received feedback on their outcomes after each. As hypothesized for first-round contributions, prosocials contributed more to public goods and framing had no discernable effect. In the second round, neither social value orientation nor framing influenced participants’ fairness evaluations when partners made a low initial contribution to the group, but dilemma-framing affected participants’ fairness evaluations when the partner made a high contribution to the group. Importantly, results generally supported key hypotheses for participants’ attempts to rectify injustices via subsequent contributions and bonus sharing. Partner’s contributions, social value orientation, and dilemma-framing all affected redistributive behaviors.

Creating an Ideal World: A Review of Work, Love, and Learning in Utopia: Equality Reimagined

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