Compensatory rationalizations and the resolution of everyday undeserved outcomes.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

People prefer to perceive the world as just; however, the everyday experience of undeserved events challenges this perception.The authors suggest that one way people rationalize these daily experiences of unfairness is by means of a compensatory bias. People make undeserved events more palatable by endorsing the notion that outcomes naturally balance out in the end--good, yet undeserved, outcomes will balance out bad outcomes, and bad undeserved outcomes will balance out good outcomes.The authors propose that compensatory biases manifest in people's interpretive processes (Study 1) and memory (Study 2). Furthermore, they provide evidence that people have a natural tendency to anticipate compensatory outcomes in the future, which, ironically, might lead them to perceive a current situation as relatively more fair (Study 3).These studies highlight an understudied means of justifying unfairness and elucidate the justice motive's power to affect people's construal of their social world.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gaucher, D; Hafer, CL; Kay, AC; Davidenko, N

Published Date

  • January 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 36 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 109 - 118

PubMed ID

  • 19915098

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1552-7433

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0146-1672

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0146167209351701


  • eng