Distributive and procedural justice: effects of outcomes, inputs and procedures

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of the current study was to investigate whether the separate contributors to procedural and distributive justice also affected the other form of justice. Previous research investigating these cross over effects of justice contributors had not examined inputs in addition to outcomes and procedures, and had typically assumed outcome level to be equivalent to the equitableness of outcomes. Subjects were 120 undergraduate psychology students. Outcomes, inputs and procedures were manipulated in a laboratory experiment in order to assess their independent and combined effects on distributive and procedural justice perceptions. In contrast to past research, the current study found a weak and inconsistent effect of procedures on distributive justice perceptions. Outcome level had a strong effect on both procedural and distributive justice perceptions. In addition, outcome fairness was found to effect procedural justice perceptions. When procedures were fair, the equitableness of outcomes influenced distributive justice ratings. When procedures were unfair, however, the equitableness of outcomes did not influence distributive justice judgements. Implications for procedural justice conceptualizations, equity theory and organizations are discussed.