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Piece of cake? Allocating rewards to third parties when fairness is costly

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  • Johansson, Lars-Olof
  • Svedsäter, Henrik

Abstract

Reactions to third-party inequality were investigated in three experiments. In Experiment 1, 52 undergraduates allocated money between themselves and two others. Preferences for equal and unequal distributions were also rated. The results show that people are averse to inequalities between themselves and others, and to inequalities between others. Post-experimental ratings indicate that egocentric equality, third-party equality, and max-min preferences are important motives. The findings were replicated in Experiment 2, where 74 undergraduates allocated compensation for a previously conducted task, and in Experiment 3, where 112 participants rated preferences. In these experiments random determination of rewards to third parties altered participants' behavior and preferences. The results indicated that random determination decreases the importance of all fairness motives while increasing the importance of monetary payoff. While people still care about economic equality under these conditions, contextual factors, such as perceived responsibility for unfair outcomes, seem to alter the impact of fairness.

Suggested Citation

  • Johansson, Lars-Olof & Svedsäter, Henrik, 2009. "Piece of cake? Allocating rewards to third parties when fairness is costly," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 107-119, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:109:y:2009:i:2:p:107-119
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Schulz, Jonathan F. & Fischbacher, Urs & Thöni, Christian & Utikal, Verena, 2014. "Affect and fairness: Dictator games under cognitive load," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 77-87.

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