Justice and power: when will justice concerns encourage the advantaged to support policies which redistribute economic resources and the disadvantaged to willingly obey the law?



Two studies are presented which test whether justice can motivate support for government policies and authorities even when such support is not in people's obvious personal or group interest. In the first study, White San Francisco Bay area residents' attitudes toward Congressionally-authored affirmative action policies and anti-discrimination laws were investigated. In the second study, African-American San Francisco Bay area residents' feelings of obligation to obey the law were investigated. The results from both studies show a significant relationship between evaluations of social justice and respondents' political attitudes. More importantly, a significant relationship between relational evaluations of Congress and political attitudes is found in both studies. This relationship suggests how justice can motivate policy and government support even if such support does not yield direct personal or group benefits. Finally, the results from both studies indicate when instrumental and relational concerns will be related to political attitudes. If people identified with their particular advantaged or disadvantaged group, instrumental concerns were more strongly related to their political attitudes, but if people identified with a superordinate category that included both potential outgroup members and relevant superordinate authorities, relational concerns were more strongly related to their political attitudes.