The justice and injustice of life events
Article first published online: 4 DEC 1998
Copyright © 1996 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 26, Issue 4, pages 581–597, July/August 1996
How to Cite
PEPITONE, A. and L'ARMAND, K. (1996), The justice and injustice of life events. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 26: 581–597. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-0992(199607)26:4<581::AID-EJSP771>3.0.CO;2-O
- Issue published online: 4 DEC 1998
- Article first published online: 4 DEC 1998
- Manuscript Accepted: 5 JUL 1995
- Manuscript Received: 15 AUG 1994
An experiment employing a sample (N=280) of undergraduates from an urban university was designed to test the general hypothesis that the perception of justice and injustice in life events depends upon the relationship between two variables that are part of the stimulus situation: the valence of the person being observed (good or bad), and the valence of the outcome experienced by that person (positive or negative). The findings from both qualitative (analysis of spontaneous comments) and quantitative scale ratings supported the prediction that justice and injustice perceptions depend respectively on whether the signs of the person–outcome valences are the same or different. Two perceptual biases were revealed by the analysis. The first was a positive outcome bias: respondents rated as more just outcomes that were positive regardless of the goodness or badness of the person in the life event. The second was a justice bias: respondents in both measures found the just life events to be more just than unjust life events to be unjust. Finally the more religious respondents perceived the life events as more just regardless of the patterns of person–outcome valences than did the less religious, suggesting a third, religiosity bias. A number of theoretical implications and questions for future research were discussed, including the quantification of the hypothesis and its cross-cultural generality.