Faculty Research and Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 1993


Traditional approaches to distributive justice have seen the determination of whether or not a distribution of rewards is fair as a cognitive process, with emotion entering the process only as an outcome of a decision that the distribution was unjust. In this paper, we propose a modification of this view. Namely, we propose that justice is not calculated unless the actor feels a justice-related emotion (anger or guilt). These emotions, which arise in the course of social interaction, lead to the instigation of justice deliberations. Using Affect Control Theory, we explain how the justice-related emotions could arise in situations that traditional models of justice would characterise as unjust. Thus, our theory is able to account for the existing literature on justice. We then show how our theory suggests several novel implications about situations that would be seen as unjust. Comparisons of our model to related models of justice are also discussed.

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Psychology Commons