Of Practicalities and Perspective: What Is Fair in Group Decision Making?


*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Elizabeth Jacobs, Loyola University Chicago, 6525 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60626 [e-mail: Ejacob3@luc.edu].


Establishing fair procedures to regulate intragroup disagreements should engender cooperation while inhibiting conflict. Yet what is a “fair” procedure might vary for members of different factions. To understand perceptions of fairness in group decision making, the present research developed and utilized the Fair Group Procedures Scale (FGPS). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses revealed a four-factor structure along two dimensions: the means of distributing decision-making power (proportionality to equality) and the normative value of the approach (desirable to undesirable). Data suggest that deeming a particular decision-making procedure “fair” is predicted by one's majority/minority position within a group. Furthermore, experimental data suggest that social change (i.e., reversals of majority/minority positions) reduces the discrepancies between factions. Results support the socially constructed nature of fairness and its potential role in intragroup conflict.