, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 24-44
Date: 01 Feb 2014

The German “Wutbürger”: How Justice Sensitivity Accounts for Individual Differences in Political Engagement

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Abstract

Perceived injustice can trigger strong emotional reactions and motivate political protest. Although there is vast empirical evidence for this chain of reactions, we know little about individual differences in how perceived injustice can motivate people to engage in political actions. In a survey study with 1,005 German participants, we investigated how justice sensitivity as a personality disposition accounts for individual differences in political engagement. Regression analyses revealed that justice sensitivity from an observer perspective promotes political engagement, whereas justice sensitivity from a victim perspective is not related to political engagement . In the concrete case of a political decision regarding the public transport project “Stuttgart 21” in Germany, our data indicated that perceived procedural injustice of the decision process and moral outrage mediated the relation of justice sensitivity from an observer perspective and political protest. The present findings are in line with research on the behavioral outcomes of justice sensitivity and contribute to the understanding of individual differences in political engagement and its underlying motivational processes.