Conceptions of Justice/Fairness Scale

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This page is for interested and knowledgable psychology researchers to brainstorm on how to create an individual difference measure that allows us to study what people believe is fair and just. Feel free to edit things, though not all edits will be accepted or put into the final scale.

There is a discussion page here for interested parties to talk about items as well. Opportunities for credit/authorship abound! The goal is to develop a scale that we'll eventually collect data on using and perhaps using a sample near you.


Factors/Concepts of Fairness/Justice

I'm not a "justice researcher" (Ravi), so I may miss something, but looking at items and articles, I've identified 4 possible factors, which could also be heirarchically represented as follows...

1)Procedural Justice - "how should we decide who gets what" [Major cites/theorists: Tom Tyler]

2) Distributive Justice - "who should get what" Major cites/theorists: William Damon....]

3) Equality - "everyone should get the same amount" [Major cites/theorists: ?]

4) Equity - "people who contribute more should get more" [Major cites/theorists: Walster, equity theory.] This includes variations in effort ("contributions are defined by putting in more work") and Ability/Product ("contributions are defined by ability/objective worth of end product")

-- Need - "people who need more should get more" [Jon thinks this must be cut; need draws on the harm/care foundation. it is a very artificial extension of fairness to say that it is only "fair" to give people what they need]

For extended discussions of the many conflicting versions of fairness, see: --Alan Fiske, 1991, on how the "Equality Matching" model is implemented --Walter, Walster, and Berscheid, on equity theory --William Damon on the development of various forms of fairness

Possible other candidates:

So given these constructs, I feel like the next step is to look at existing measures and see which constructs are represented.

Existing scales

Here we can look at existing scales and comment on which factors items might load addition to those factors from the above section, items might be open to interpretation and load on the general "fairness/justice" idea that a person has in their head at that time. So a person who believes in equality will actually be answering a different question than someone who believes in equity when asked "is this fair?".

Moral Foundations Questionnaire

This is the Haidt/Graham measure that is available at and..

Procedural Justice If we are to fight crime effectively, some people's rights will have to be violated.

General Justice, fairness and equality are the most important requirements for a society.

Procedural Justice When the government makes laws, the number one principle should be ensuring that everyone is treated fairly.

Equity vs. Equality I think it's morally wrong that rich children inherit a lot of money while poor children inherit nothing.

Procedural Justice Whether or not someone was denied his or her rights

General Whether or not someone acted unfairly

Equality, and/or procedural Whether or not some people were treated differently than others

Procedural Justice, and equality Whether or not someone tried to control or dominate someone else

Preference for the Merit Principle Scale

This scale is by (Davey, Bobocel, San Hing, Zanna 1999).

Equality, neg equity - In work organizations, each employee ought to be named employee of the month at least once, even if he or she is not deserving. (R)

Equity (ability + effort) - In organizations, people who do their job well ought to rise to the top.

Procedural Justice - It is wrong for an employee to give a job to someone they know without advertising the job to other candidates.

General Fairness (ambiguous) - In life, people ought to get what they deserve.

Equity (effort) - The effort a worker puts into a job ought to be reflected in the size of a raise he or she receives.

Equality - When students are working on a group project, each member of the group ought to receive the same grade regardless of the amount of effort each team member puts in. (R)

Equity (effort) - Promotion decisions ought to take into account the effort workers put into their job.

Equity (effort + ability), Equality - Members of a work team ought to receive different pay depending on the amount each person contributed.

Need - Sometimes it is appropriate to give a raise to the worker who most needs it, even if he or she is not the most hard working. (R)

Equity (ability) - Qualifications ought to be given more weight than seniority when making promotion decisions.

Equity (effort) - Between two equally smart students applying for the same job, the one who is the harder worker ought to always get the job.

Equality - When a bonus is given to a work team for good performance, the money ought to always be divided equally among the group members. (R)

Need (Rev) - It is never appropriate to choose which student to hire by how much the student needs the job.

Equity (ability/product) (Rev) - People ought to be able to get away with poor quality work under some circumstances. (R)

Equity (effort) - If every person in an office has the same abilities, the promotion ought to always be given to the person who puts in the most effort.

Experiment in The Justice Motive

From The Justice Motive In Adolescence And Young Adulthood: Origins and Consequences By Claudia Dalbert, Hedvig Sallay

They gave students a short vignette about students who received the same number of points in a dictation in their native language and asked whether...

Equality Both should receive the same grade.

Need The student who needs a better grade to move up to the next year should receive a better grade.

Equity The student who made more of an effort should receive the better grade.

The Uber Justice/Fairness Scale

This section is for us to figure out what would be the best scale to figure out these factors of justice/fairness using a combination of existing and new scale items. There may be more factors as this document evolves...feel free to add your own candidate questions/factors here...

Procedural Justice

Distributive Justice - Equality

Distributive Justice - Need

Distributive Justice - Equity - Effort

Distributive Justice - Equity - Ability/Production

Retributive Justice - Punishment Orientation

Need items measuring one's endorsement of punishing people for doing things that are morally wrong.


Just to be clear and provide incentives to participate....

While I (Ravi) don't know where this project will lead, so I can't guarantee this, my goal is to have this project be a large collaboration with liberal credit awarded. If you contribute significantly to this page and it ends up in my control, I'll at least add your contribution as a footnote. If you can do data analysis, contribute a lot to the scale design, collect a sample, or help write the eventual paper, then there is likely an opportunity to be an author as long as you don't mind being on a paper with lots of others.

Misc Stuff that may spur thought or hasn't been classified

Fiske's Communal Sharing, Authority Ranking, Equality Matching, and Market Pricing

 "People use just four fundamental models for organizing most aspects
   of sociality most of the time in all cultures . These models are
   Communal Sharing, Authority Ranking, Equality Matching, and Market

   Communal Sharing (CS) is a relationship in which people
   treat some dyad or group as equivalent and undifferentiated with
   respect to the social domain in question. Examples are people using
   a commons (CS with respect to utilization of the particular
   resource), people intensely in love (CS with respect to their social
   selves), people who "ask not for whom the bell tolls, for it tolls
   for thee" (CS with respect to shared suffering and common
   well-being), or people who kill any member of an enemy group
   indiscriminately in retaliation for an attack (CS with respect to
   collective responsibility).

   In Authority Ranking (AR) people have asymmetric positions in a
   linear hierarchy in which subordinates defer, respect, and (perhaps)
   obey, while superiors take precedence and take pastoral
   responsibility for subordinates. Examples are military hierarchies
   (AR in decisions, control, and many other matters), ancestor worship
   (AR in offerings of filial piety and expectations of protection and
   enforcement of norms), monotheistic religious moralities (AR for the
   definition of right and wrong by commandments or will of God),
   social status systems such as class or ethnic rankings (AR with
   respect to social value of identities), and rankings such as sports
   team standings (AR with respect to prestige). AR relationships are
   based on perceptions of legitimate asymmetries, not coercive power;
   they are not inherently exploitative (although they may involve
   power or cause harm).
   In Equality Matching relationships people keep track of the balance
   or difference among participants and know what would be required to
   restore balance. Common manifestations are turn-taking, one-person
   one-vote elections, equal share distributions, and vengeance based
   on an-eye-for-an-eye, a-tooth-for-a-tooth. Examples include sports
   and games (EM with respect to the rules, procedures, equipment and
   terrain), baby-sitting coops (EM with respect to the exchange of
   child care), and restitution in-kind (EM with respect to righting a

   Market Pricing relationships are oriented to socially meaningful
   ratios or rates such as prices, wages, interest, rents, tithes, or
   cost-benefit analyses. Money need not be the medium, and MP
   relationships need not be selfish, competitive, maximizing, or
   materialistic - any of the four models may exhibit any of these
   features. MP relationships are not necessarily individualistic; a
   family may be the CS or AR unit running a business that operates in
   an MP mode with respect to other enterprises. Examples are property
   that can be bought, sold, or treated as investment capital (land or
   objects as MP), marriages organized contractually or implicitly in
   terms of costs and benefits to the partners, prostitution (sex as
   MP), bureaucratic cost-effectiveness standards (resource allocation
   as MP), utilitarian judgments about the greatest good for the
   greatest number, or standards of equity in judging entitlements in
   proportion to contributions (two forms of morality as MP),
   considerations of "spending time" efficiently, and estimates of
   expected kill ratios (aggression as MP). "
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