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The importance of contextual variables when judging fairness: An examination of counterfactual thoughts and fairness theory

Listed author(s):
  • Nicklin, Jessica M.
  • Greenbaum, Rebecca
  • McNall, Laurel A.
  • Folger, Robert
  • Williams, Kevin J.
Registered author(s):

    This research empirically examines the underlying mechanisms of fairness theory ([Folger and Cropanzano, 1998] and [Folger and Cropanzano, 2001]), namely counterfactual thought processes. Study 1 used a policy-capturing design to examine the relative importance of contextual variables in predicting counterfactual thoughts and fairness perceptions. Study 2 utilized a between-subjects design and asked participants to generate their own counterfactuals in response to an unfortunate event. Results of both studies showed that fairness perceptions are influenced by contextual variables (i.e., outcome severity, target knowledge and expertise, sin of commission vs. omission) and counterfactual thinking. Counterfactual thoughts partially mediated the effects of contextual variables and fairness perceptions in Study 1. Exploratory analyses from Study 3 revealed that the measurement of counterfactual thoughts (frequency vs. strength) may capture different underlying constructs. Implications are discussed.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

    Volume (Year): 114 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 (March)
    Pages: 127-141

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:114:y:2011:i:2:p:127-141
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    1. Price, Kenneth H. & Lavelle, James J. & Henley, Amy B. & Cocchiara, Faye K. & Buchanan, F. Robert, 2006. "Judging the fairness of voice-based participation across multiple and interrelated stages of decision making," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 212-226, March.
    2. Greenberg, Jerald, 1996. ""Forgive Me, I'm New": Three Experimental Demonstrations of the Effects of Attempts to Excuse Poor Performance," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 165-178, May.
    3. Cohen-Charash, Yochi & Spector, Paul E., 2001. "The Role of Justice in Organizations: A Meta-Analysis," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 278-321, November.
    4. Keith D. Markman & Matthew N. McMullen & Ronald A. Elizaga & Nobuko Mizoguchi, 2006. "Counterfactual thinking and regulatory fit," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 1, pages 98-107, November.
    5. Martocchio, Joseph J. & Judge, Timothy A., 1994. "A Policy-Capturing Approach to Individuals' Decisions to Be Absent," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 358-386, March.
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