Injustice in School and Students’ Emotions, Well-Being, and Behavior: A Longitudinal study
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- Pretsch, J., Ehrhardt, N., Engl, L. et al. Soc Just Res (2016) 29: 119. doi:10.1007/s11211-015-0234-x
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School can be regarded as an important factor in the development of children’s values and attitudes. Given this great importance of justice experiences for students’ development, this study aimed at examining the influence of perceived injustice in school on students’ emotions, well-being, and behavior with an experimental longitudinal design. In total, 196 students participated in this study and came to the university with their classes to receive extra teaching once a week for six consecutive weeks. To manipulate justice perceptions, a scenario of arbitrary privilege was chosen to lead students of the experimental group to experience injustice from a beneficiary perspective. We found that students in the experimental group reported higher well-being and a higher appreciation of the opportunity to learn than the control group did. Additionally, they showed an increase in justice-related negative emotions over time; that is, they expressed more of a bad conscience and stronger feelings of anger the more they became aware of their privilege. This study shows that even subtle experiences of injustice in school can have an impact on students’ outcomes. These results are discussed with regard to practical implications.