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Experiential Social Justice Judgment Processes

By M. Maas

Abstract

Social justice can be thought of as an idea that exists within the minds of individuals and that concerns issues like what is right and wrong, what ought to be or not to be, and what is fair or unfair. This subjective quality of the justice judgment process makes it rather unpredictable how people will react when confronted with unjust events. The effects social justice can have on people's subsequent behaviors have been widely recognized in literature by showing that perceived fairness influences people's behaviors, attitudes, and feelings in many social interactions. Yet, the acknowledgement that people can have different reactions to experienced fairness does not tell us much about how people come to experience events as fair or unfair and when these fairness experiences may differ in intensity. The aim of the work presented in this thesis was to gain more knowledge of these processes and factors underlying social justice judgment processes. In order to try to achieve this aim, I addressed the question of how the way people process justice-related information may influence their subsequent reactions. In Chapter 1 it is argued that gaining further knowledge about how experiential-intuitive versus rationalistic-analytic modes of information processing work together and may potentially interact in helping people to distinguish between right and wrong may contribute significantly to understanding how people perceive and react to fair and unfair events. In this thesis I have examined in three chapters various elements of the experiential and rationalistic processes pertaining to justice judgment processes. Chapter 2 shows that experiencing personal uncertainty influences or affect how people perceive and react to fair and unfair events. Two experiments show that when personal uncertainty had made participants susceptible to individual differences in affect intensity, they reacted with both stronger procedural justice judgments and stronger affective reactions toward experienced procedural fairness. In Chapter 3 a new way of manipulating both experiential and rationalistic mindsets is introduced and results show that both ways of processing information may influence people's fairness reactions, but that particularly the strongest affective reactions to fair and unfair events tend to be found when people's experiential mindsets make experienced fairness susceptible to individual differences in affect intensity. Chapter 4 addresses the question whether experiential versus rationalistic modes of information processing also work together and may potentially interact in helping people to distinguish between right and wrong when they are confronted with fair and unfair events that happen to someone else. Results of two experiments show that participants in experiential mindsets held victims blameworthy, irrespective of usually found effects of individual differences in general belief in a just world or the level of threat to the just world. In contrast, participants in rationalistic mindsets show the generally observed just world reactions. In sum, the findings presented in this thesis advance our knowledge of processes and factors underlying social justice judgment processes, by furthering insights in how experiential and rationalistic ways of processing justice-related information influences how people perceive and react to fair and unfair events

Topics: Sociale Wetenschappen, social justice, fairness, justice, experiential, mindset, information processing
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.library.uu.nl:1874/26073
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