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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Third party reactions to justice failure : an empirical test Zhu, Lei


I propose a model that explores the consequences of justice failure. I conceptualize justice failure as a threat to meaning and propose that one way third party observers could react to justice failure is by engaging in fluid compensation. I also propose that identity influences individuals’ reaction to justice failure such that for individuals high in moral identity, compensation is more likely to occur in the moral domain than in other domains. Finally, as a result of affirming the moral domain, individuals high in moral identity are more likely to (a) engage in more ethical behavior (b) judge morally ambiguous behaviors as more immoral and (c) more supportive of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs than individuals low in moral identity. Five experiments were conducted to partially test this model. In Chapter 1, I present an experiment demonstrating that not everyone is equally threatened by justice failure; rather, those who strongly endorse belief in just world are more threatened by justice failure than those who endorse such belief less strongly (Experiment 1). In Chapter 2, I present two experiments demonstrating the effect of moral identity on third parties’ reaction to justice failure (Experiments 2a, 2b, and 3). In Chapter 3, I present two additional experiments demonstrating that exposure to justice failure led third parties to 1) purchase more green products 2) support a fellow university student for a job promotion if they were high in environmental (Experiment 4) and university identity (Experiment 5). Finally, in Chapter 5, I discuss the implications of my theory and findings for research on third party justice and meaning maintenance.

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