The Delivery of Justice, Injustice, and Necessary Evils: Psychological, Physiological, and Behavioral Responses and Boundary Conditions

Meghan Ann Thornton, Purdue University


The prevailing approach to studying justice in the workplace has been focused on recipients and even observers of fairness. This approach, however, fails to consider the experience of other parties who might be affected by justice, including those that must deliver it. In order to understand the experience of deliverers, I investigated how delivering justice, injustice, and necessary evils affect their emotions, stress, and subsequent behaviors. I also assessed the extent to which situational features would ameliorate or exacerbate deliverers’ affective and physiological responses. Two experiments showed that deliverers’ emotions and stress were affected by their delivery experience, such that those who had to deliver injustice and necessary evils were generally less happy, and more guilty, sad, and stressed than those who had to deliver justice. While there was no effect on behaviors nor was there a mitigating effect of situation, these findings suggest that, in addition to recipients and observers, deliverers also respond to justice as they deliver it.




Rupp, Purdue University.

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