The mediating role of overall fairness and the moderating role of trust certainty in justice–criteria relationships: the formation and use of fairness heuristics in the workplace



Theory suggests that perceptions of overall fairness play an important role in the justice judgment process, yet overall fairness is insufficiently studied. We derived hypotheses from fairness heuristic theory, which proposes that perceptions of overall fairness are influenced by different types of justice, are more proximal predictors of responses than specific justice types, and are used to infer trust when trust certainty is low. Results from Study 1 (N = 1340) showed that employees' perceptions of overall fairness in relation to a senior management team mediated the relationships between specific types of justice and employee outcomes (e.g., affective commitment). In Study 2 (N = 881), these mediated effects were replicated and trust certainty moderated the effect of overall fairness on trust as hypothesized. Study 2 also showed that, relative to procedural and informational justice, distributive and interpersonal justice had stronger effects on overall fairness. To explore how the organizational context may have influenced these findings, we performed qualitative analyses in Study 3 (N = 268). Results suggested that, consistent with the quantitative findings from Study 2, some types of justice were more salient than others. We discuss the implications of our findings for theory, research, and practice. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.