Article

Social Justice Research

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 25-42

When Citizens Fight Back: Justice Sensitivity and Resistance to Political Reform

  • Eva Traut-MattauschAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Salzburg Email author 
  • , Stephanie GuterAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Munich
  • , Mark P. ZannaAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Waterloo
  • , Eva JonasAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Salzburg
  • , Dieter FreyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Munich

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Abstract

A considerable number of individuals show resistance to reform, whereas others, although similarly affected, do not react in a resistant way at all. Based on research showing that people differ concerning how sensitive they are toward being a victim of injustice (victim justice sensitivity), we argued that people high in victim justice sensitivity perceive a reform more as an illegitimate limitation to their freedom resulting in more reactance. Consequently, people high in victim justice sensitivity should show more resistance to reform. We conducted three studies to test these assumptions. Our studies revealed that physicians (healthcare reform, Study 1) and students (introduction of tuition fees, Studies 2 and 3) with higher victim justice sensitivity experienced more reactance and thus showed more resistance to reform. The implications of these results for the implementation of political reforms are discussed.

Keywords

Justice sensitivity Resistance to reform Reactance Victim Beneficiary