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‘Becoming Angry When Another is Treated Fairly’: On Understanding When Own and Other's Fair Treatment Influences Negative Reactions


  • This research was shaped and written when the first author was a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, USA, sponsored by the Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard.

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The present research examined across two experimental studies the impact of how fairly one's partner was treated on the experience of one's own negative emotions and intentions to display antisocial behaviours. Experiment 1 revealed that one's own feelings of anger and frustration were significantly higher when one's partner was treated fairly (i.e. receiving voice in the decision-making procedure) relative to when one's partner was treated unfairly (i.e. receiving no voice), but only so when the interaction between oneself and the other was characterized by competitive interdependence (i.e. a zero-sum gain in which a good performance by the other is negative for oneself and vice versa). The opposite pattern of results emerged in the cooperative interdependence condition (i.e. a good performance by the other is positive for oneself and vice versa). Experiment 2 (in which also the fairness of one's own treatment was manipulated) further showed that in the competitive interdependence condition own anger and frustration were higher when one's partner received voice and oneself did not relative to when the partner did not receive voice and oneself did. A similar effect was also obtained for intentions to display antisocial behaviour, which was mediated by negative emotions. These findings thus reveal that the other's procedurally fair treatment affects own responses differently as a function of the given goal interdependence and own treatment.