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Abstract

Past research on queuing has identified social justice as an important determinant of consumers' waiting experiences. In queuing settings, people's perception of social justice is affected by whether the principle of first in and first out (FIFO) has been violated. However, even when service follows the FIFO principle, waiting time may still differ from one consumer to another for various reasons. For instance, a consumer who happens to arrive in the queue after a large group of people may have to wait longer than average. In this research, it is argued that, aside from and independent of the FIFO principle, consumers also care about whether everyone spends an approximately equal amount of time waiting before availing of the product or service. When consumers perceive that they have spent more time waiting than others and when they can attribute this injustice to the service provider, they will be less satisfied with the waiting experience. It is also proposed that adherence to the FIFO principle is a more salient concern to consumers (thus termed “first-order” justice), and equal waiting time (”second-order” justice) matters only when first-order justice is not an issue. Three studies support the predictions. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.