Domain Specificity Of Fairness Judgments In Economic Transactions

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Journal Of Economic Psychology


Two studies eliciting fairness judgments about hypothetical economic transactions examined whether fairness judgments were influenced by who was being judged. The first study replicated the results of Kahneman et al. (Am. Econom. Rev. 76 (1986a) 728-741; J. Business 59 (1986b) S285-S300) that people judge certain actions by firms as unfair, but it also demonstrated that people judge parallel actions by individuals as fair. The second study suggested that people apply different standards to individuals and firms because of presumed differences between them in wealth, power, and size. When firms were portrayed as no more powerful or wealthy than individuals, differences in fairness judgments were eliminated. Further, respondents were less inclined to judge the behavior of a firm harshly as perpetrator of an unfair act when the firm was identified with an individual than when it was large and anonymous, and they were more inclined to judge the behavior of an individual harshly as perpetrator of an unfair act when the action injured a firm with a clearly identified individual than when the firm was large and anonymous. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science B.V.

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