Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 77, Issue 3, pp 287–301 | Cite as

Fairness, Feelings, and Ethical Decision- Making: Consequences of Violating Community Standards of Fairness

  • Maurice E. Schweitzer
  • Donald E. GibsonEmail author


In this article, we describe the influence of violations of community standards of fairness (Kahneman, Knetsch, and Thaler, 1986a) on subsequent ethical decision-making and emotions. Across two studies, we manipulated explanations for a common action, and we find that explanations that violate community standards of fairness (e.g., by taking advantage of an in crease in market power) lead to greater intentions to behave unethically than explanations that are consistent with community standards of fairness (e.g., by passing along a price increase). We find that perceptions of justifiability mediate this relationship. We also find that individuals derive significant psychological benefits (greater satisfaction, greater happiness, and reduced anger) from engaging in unethical behavior following perceived violations of fairness.


unethical behavior fairness deception emotions community standards justification 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.566 JMHH, OPIMWharton School, University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaU.S.A.

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