Effects of knowledge of self-interest and social relationship upon the use of equity, utilitarian, and Rawlsian principles of allocation



Subjects played a game and were told they had the high score, low score, or were not informed which score was their own. They were previously led to like or dislike the other. Relative performance was generally considered in allocating rewards, indicating the use of an equity principle. Performance was not used as a criteria for allocation, however, by subjects who were uncertain of their score in positive social relationships and poor performers in negative social relationships. When given a chance to increase the total group reward by deviating from the distribution ratio believed most equitable, most subjects did so. This finding indicated that a utilitarian type of principle was clearly used in conjunction with the equity principle. Few subjects, however, followed the Rawlsian principle that inequality is only tolerable when an unequal allocation gives more to each person than an equal allocation.