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Does Fairness Matter in the Context of Anger About Nuclear Energy Decision Making?


John C. Besley, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA; tel: 803 777-3764;


Several recent studies have questioned whether nonoutcome forms of fairness matter in decision-making situations where individuals feel strongly engaged by the issue at hand. This survey-based study focuses on perceptions about a decision-making process related to a proposal to expand a nuclear power plant in the U.S. Southeast. It finds that anger moderates the impacts of outcome and procedural fairness on willingness to accept a decision process as satisfactory and legitimate. The more anger a person said he or she would feel if a decision were to contradict that person's point of view, the more perceived outcome and procedural fairness mattered. The study also finds that interpersonal fairness is also moderated by anger, but in the opposite direction. Interpersonal fairness had less of an impact on willingness to accept a decision for those who said they would feel angry if the decision did not go their preferred way.