Social disadvantage and the self-regulatory function of justice beliefs.
Five studies support the hypothesis that beliefs in societal fairness offer a self-regulatory benefit for members of socially disadvantaged groups. Specifically, members of disadvantaged groups are more likely than members of advantaged groups to calibrate their pursuit of long-term goals to their beliefs about societal fairness. In Study 1, low socioeconomic status (SES) undergraduate students who believed more strongly in societal fairness showed greater intentions to persist in the face of poor performance on a midterm examination. In Study 2, low SES participants who believed more strongly in fairness reported more willingness to invest time and effort to achieve desirable career outcomes. In Study 3, ethnic minority participants exposed to a manipulation suggesting that fairness conditions in their country were improving reported more willingness to invest resources in pursuit of long-term goals, relative to ethnic minority participants in a control condition. Study 4 replicated Study 3 using an implicit priming procedure, demonstrating that perceptions of the personal relevance of societal fairness mediate these effects. Across these 4 studies, no link between fairness beliefs and self-regulation emerged for members of advantaged (high SES, ethnic majority) groups. Study 5 contributed evidence from the World Values Survey and a representative sample (Inglehart, Basañez, Diez-Medrano, Halman, & Luijkx, 2004). Respondents reported more motivation to work hard to the extent that they believed that rewards were distributed fairly; this effect emerged more strongly for members of lower SES groups than for members of higher SES groups, as indicated by both self-identified social class and ethnicity.
Laurin, K; Fitzsimons, GM; Kay, AC
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