Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 144, Issue 4, pp 733–754 | Cite as

Deontic Justice and Organizational Neuroscience

  • Russell S. Cropanzano
  • Sebastiano MassaroEmail author
  • William J. Becker
Open Access


According to deontic justice theory, individuals often feel principled moral obligations to uphold norms of justice. That is, standards of justice can be valued for their own sake, even apart from serving self-interested goals. While a growing body of evidence in business ethics supports the notion of deontic justice, skepticism remains. This hesitation results, at least in part, from the absence of a coherent framework for explaining how individuals produce and experience deontic justice. To address this need, we argue that a compelling, yet still missing, step is to gain further understanding into the underlying neural and psychological mechanisms of deontic justice. Here, we advance a theoretical model that disentangles three key processes of deontic justice: The use of justice rules to assess events, cognitive empathy, and affective empathy. Together with reviewing neural systems supporting these processes, broader implications of our model for business ethics scholarship are discussed.


Affect and cognition Deonance Deontic justice Empathy Organizational justice Workplace fairness Organizational neuroscience 



Anterior cingulate cortex


Default Mode Network




Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging


Inferior frontal gyrus


Orbitofrontal cortex


Posterior cingulate cortex


Positron Emission Tomography


Prefrontal cortex


Posteromedial cortex


Quantitative electroencephalography


Right temporoparietal junction


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation


Temporoparietal junction


Ventromedial prefrontal cortex

Organizational justice is important to workers. When they feel fairly treated, employees tend to report less stress and better health (Cropanzano and Wright 2011), as well as more positive attitudes toward their jobs (Cohen-Charash and Spector 2001). Employers also benefit through higher worker job performance (Colquitt et al. 2001), more organizational citizenship behaviors (Fassina et al. 2008), and lower turnover intentions (Aryee and Chay 2001). In this paper, we seek to describe the underlying psychological processes—and supporting neural systems—that employees use when evaluating whether an event was fair or unfair. In particular, we focus on deontic justice, the view that justice is of value for its own sake. Toward this end, we present and discuss a theoretical model that disentangles the psychological mechanisms involved in the formulation of these fairness judgments and review these processes through an analysis of relevant neural correlates. Overall, we argue that individuals evaluate fairness by applying normative criteria called justice rules (Cropanzano et al. 2015; Scott et al. 2008). As we shall see, these fairness judgments are moderated by both affective and cognitive processes. However, people are most likely to make the effort to apply justice rules, when they experience both cognitive empathy and affective empathy toward another person.

To refine and extend our understanding of these complex mechanisms, we will review the principal brain regions involved in both justice rules and in these two types of empathic processes. In order to accomplish these objectives, we first examine the available research on organizational justice, paying particular interest to the various reasons why workers care about fairness. We then focus in more detail on deontic justice, which is the principal concern of this paper. Afterward, we discuss the three main components of our model—application of justice rules, cognitive empathy, and affective empathy. Throughout, we consider the implications of our model for research and practice.

Organizational Justice

While research strongly suggests that justice matters to employees, scholars have proposed multiple explanations of why this is so. There has been some degree of convergence on the idea that justice matters to employees for multiple reasons (Cropanzano et al. 2001); yet, traditionally, three main theoretical frameworks have been proposed: The instrumental approach, the relational approach, and the deontic approach (e.g., Colquitt and Greenberg 2001; Folger and Salvador 2008).

Overview of the Three Motives for Justice

The instrumental model, which is historically the oldest, maintains that individuals prefer justice because it provides them long-term control over valued outcomes (for discussions, see Greenberg 1990; Tyler 1997, 2006). As one might expect, empirical evidence supports this view: Employees are egocentrically biased to view decisions that favor them as more fair (Cropanzano and Moliner 2013) and their views on justice are positively related to outcome favorability (e.g., Ambrose et al. 1991).

A subsequent view, the relational framework, refers to a set of theories—the group-value model, the relational model, and the group engagement model—that focus on and emphasize the relationship between the individual and his or her workgroup (Blader and Tyler 2015). Together, these three models posit that justice, and especially procedural justice, is central because fair treatment signals that an individual is respected and regarded within a significant social group that he or she values (Lind and Tyler 1988). This concept is consistent with, and supported by, empirical tests within organizational settings (e.g., Tyler and Blader 2000; Tyler et al. 1997).

While research strongly supports the existence of instrumental and relational concerns, these do not appear to be the only reasons why workers care about organizational justice. A third approach, the deontic model of justice (Folger and Glerum 2015; Folger and Salvador 2008), argues that employees often maintain ethical standards or moral principles (Blader and Tyler 2001), sometimes called ‘justice rules,’ that guide the moral treatment of others. As of result of these normative criteria, they adopt a moral duty (deon = duty) to uphold their principles (Folger 2001, 2011; Hannah et al. 2014). In this way, justice is valued for its own sake, not simply because of the personal benefits that it may bring to a person (Folger et al. 2005; for additional empirical evidence, see O’Reilly et al. 2016; Skarlicki and Rupp 2010; Skarlicki et al. 2008).

While deonance does not seem to be the only justice motive (cf. Folger et al. 2013), it does appear to be a notable one. For example, reactions to justice are partially influenced by personality dispositions indicative of trait morality (Colquitt et al. 2006). Likewise, research on ‘altruistic punishment’ (Fehr and Gächter 2002), shows that individuals will sacrifice economic benefits in order to punish someone who violates social norms (Fehr and Fishbacher 2004; Fehr and Gächter 2002; Fehr et al. 2002). Interestingly, the same act, even if it is equally hurtful, will be punished more harshly if it violates a group norm and less harshly if it does not (DaGloria and DeRidder 1977, 1979; DeRidder 1985).

Research among management scholars is consistent with this notion (cf. O’Reilly and Aquino 2011). Turillo et al. (2002) found that individuals will punish an unjust coworker, even when the victim is a stranger (for similar findings, see the studies reported by O’Reilly et al. 2016). Likewise, managers who are high in moral identity are more likely to punish transgressors than managers low on this measure (Skarlicki and Rupp 2010), though this may depend somewhat on the dimension of moral identity under examination.

Similarly, when people feel that they have been harmed by an immoral action, evidence suggests that they prefer a resolution outcome that validates their normative beliefs (Reb et al. 2006; for related findings, see Skarlicki et al. 2008). Evidence of this kind suggests that deontic justice provides a critical account of why employees care about justice: They do so, in part, because they possess moral standards and duty to uphold them (Folger and Glerum 2015; Folger and Salvador 2008; Hannah et al. 2014).

Despite evidence that organizational justice can be motivated by something other than self-interest, this notion has been met with some skepticism (e.g., Greenberg 2001; Colquitt and Greenberg 2001). In a sort of conceptual ‘path dependence,’ these concerns appear to be rooted in the history of ethics scholarships. Hatfield and colleagues (Hatfield et al. 1978, pp. 128–129) maintained that ‘the majority of scientists […] interpret apparent altruism in cost-benefit terms, assuming that individuals […] perform those acts that are rewarded […] and […] avoid those acts that are not. Either self-congratulation or external reward, then, must support apparently altruistic behavior.’ Likewise, Gillespie and Greenberg (2005, p. 205) assert that ‘the only ultimate goal(s) of individuals [is/]are self-directed’ (italics added). On this view, the concern is not limited to justice. Rather, people appear to be incapable of motivated behavior that is not self-interested (for a review and critique, see Cropanzano et al. 2007).

Deontic Justice and the Question of ‘How?’

A close look at the literature suggests that scholars have yet to fully investigate and explain the intrapersonal mechanisms responsible for deontic justice. Fortunately, scientists from several disciplines have begun to focus attention on the underpinnings of human justice. In particular, cognitive neuroscience has recently offered remarkable insights on the neural basis of moral behaviors (e.g., Greene et al. 2001; Moll et al. 2005); at the same time, business ethics has begun to explore the value of neuroscience methods and findings to advance theory on organizational justice (Beugré 2009; Dulebohn et al. 2009; Massaro and Becker 2015; Robertson et al. 2007; Salvador and Folger 2009). Despite such vibrant and compelling interest, relatively little is clearly known regarding the processes by which one’s brain can be ‘recruited’ for another person’s justice. We call this the ‘how?’ question—How can deontic justice be realized in an individual’s brain? And what are the related implications for business ethics?

Deontic Justice and Organizational Neuroscience: An Overview

We shed light on these matters by integrating a set of psychological processes, and supporting neural systems, into a unique theoretical framework that aims to advance our current understanding of deontic justice. In other words, we aim to elucidate core mechanisms by which a worker comes to care about the moral principles that have been applied (or violated) for another individual through the lens of organizational neuroscience (Becker et al. 2011). Thus, our contribution aims to go beyond an ordinary exploration of what we might learn individually from the dedicated organizational, neuroscience, or psychology literatures. Rather, we aim to cross-fertilize among these disciplines in order to create an integrated model of deontic justice for business ethics.

In this paper, we explicate and defend a single proposition: Deontic justice, and in particular the ability to take into account the ethical quality with which others are treated, is grounded on a set of three largely integrated processes: The use of justice rules to assess events, cognitive empathy, and affective empathy. We acknowledge that this is a bold proposition, not yet commonly held in the business disciplines. For this reason, we devote considerable attention to supporting our foremost argument—that workers take justice seriously even when they are not selfishly benefited—by introducing neuroscience evidence. As we shall see, our brain is a complex organ consisting of many structures working synchronously and simultaneously to produce thoughts, feelings, decisions, and actions, including the ability to morally relate to others. As such, there is not a single brain center for justice, rather, justice is a whole-brain affair that relies on the integration of cognitive and affective neural systems and psychological processes (Casebeer 2003; Tancredi 2005; Yoder and Decety 2014).

Overview of the Present Model

Our primary aim is to provide a much needed, but largely neglected, theoretical rationale for how a set of synergistic processes provide an explanatory account for deontic justice. Our reasoning is substantiated by merging evidence from several literatures. The resulting theoretical model depicted in Fig. 1 underscores the conceptual challenges.
Fig. 1

Theoretical model of deontic justice. Notice the three critical elements: Application of justice rules, cognitive empathy, and affective empathy. Note also that empathy has both a moderating and a main effect

This figure is only intended to provide a cursory summary and guide to our model of deontic justice. We have not yet provided an account of specific neural systems supporting our model. Rather, here we describe how individuals make justice judgments (Cropanzano et al. 2015). Notice that people are often motivated to make sense out of a salient but harmful event. Moreover, the degree of empathy frequently impacts how these events are evaluated (Scott et al. 2008). As mentioned above, a key insight of deontic justice theory is that an unfortunate or harmful event is evaluated with respect to some ‘normative criteria’ (Cugueró-Escofet and Fortin 2014, p. 2) or ‘justice rules’ (Hollensbe et al. 2008, p. 1099) or moral intuitions’ (Greene and Haidt 2002, p. 517). When a transgressor’s behavior toward another violates these rules, the observer or witness believes that the victim has been treated unfairly (Cropanzano et al. 2015; Rupp and Paddock 2010). As we shall see, justice rules are emotionally weighted and they can be distinguished from simple social conventions, which are instead situational and somewhat arbitrary (e.g., Smetana et al. 1993).

Yet, a key challenge for deontic justice theory lies in explicating the extent to which a justice rule will be applied and the extent to which it will not. All events in business organizations are not necessarily evaluated with respect to moral principles (Folger and Cropanzano 1998, 2001). For example, it is not uncommon for people to ignore mistreatment received by others, especially when individuals are part of different social groups (Greene 2013). This allows for callous disregard in relation to ‘out group’ individuals (Hein et al. 2010). Thus, if businesspeople could increase their circle of regard, more people would receive fair treatment (cf., Clayton and Opotow 2003).

By introducing neural systems associated with these psychological processes, we advance knowledge of how a worker’s disinterest in the needs of others may result from what we could call a ‘breakdown’ in his or her empathic system (i.e., the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference) (Greene 2013). Supported by this and other evidence, we argue that justice rules in the workplace are more likely to be applied when the third-party observer or witness has a sense of empathy for the victim (e.g., Blader and Tyler 2001; Patient and Skarlicki 2005). In particular, we suggest that two interrelated types of empathy are relevant: Cognitive empathy and affective empathy.

Cognitive empathy involves knowing the contents of other people’s feelings through deliberate thought. That is, one must understand what others are thinking and feeling in order to know when they are distressed (for an overview on empathy, see e.g., Walter 2012). However, ‘knowing’ per se is insufficient. When a worker observes a coworker in distress, he or she may experience affective empathy without any deliberate thought or intention. Affective empathy involves automatic sharing in the emotional experiences of others (e.g., Walter 2012). Cognitive and affective empathy reinforce one another (Zaki and Ochsner 2012).

Closing Thought and Looking Ahead

In the sections that follow we further unravel the model presented in Fig. 1. We begin with a review of the evidence related to justice rules in the next section. Subsequently, we turn our attention to the two forms of empathy, beginning with cognitive and moving later to affective. While we treat cognitive and affective empathy separately in order to facilitate our discussion of the brain regions reviewed, we emphasize that both these and the related psychological processes are highly interconnected.

Recognizing and Applying Justice Rules

Research on deontic justice suggests that individuals make their moral decisions by observing or becoming aware of a triggering event—e.g., a potential mistreatment by a work supervisor, and evaluating this event with respect to some justice rule. A ‘justice rule’ is a ‘self-based standard, or expectation, derived from individuals’ socialized or internalized values, regarding the moral obligations of individuals in a specific context’ (Lau and Wong 2009, p. 281). This rule is used as a sort of measuring device to evaluate the moral appropriateness of the event (Scott et al. 2008). Because this type of assessment is based on the use of moral principles, it has also been called ‘principlism’ (e.g., Batson 1999, p. 303; Blader and Tyler 2001, p. 235). These judgments are not ‘context free,’ and various elements of the decision environment can impact the evaluations (for empirical evidence, see Nicklin et al. 2011; for a review, see Cropanzano and Moliner 2013). While context effects are important, they are somewhat beyond the scope of the present article, which aims to understand the underlying intrapersonal processes of deontic justice.

Historically, justice rules have been organized into three families (Cropanzano et al. 2015): Distributive justice, which pertains to the outcome allocation; procedural justice, which relates to the decision-making process; and interactional justice, which concerns the interpersonal treatment received from another person. Some researchers have found it useful to further divide interactional justice into two sub-dimensions (e.g., Colquitt et al. 2001). In this approach, interpersonal justice relates to the dignity and respect that one receives, whereas informational justice pertains to keeping people informed, providing explanations, and so forth. Each of these types of justice has its own set of justice rules (cf. Colquitt and Rodell 2015).

While research is still ongoing (e.g., Hollensbe et al. 2008), we consider it a useful taxonomy (Colquitt 2001) to understand what ‘justice rule’ means. According to this categorization, there are at least three just ways to distribute outcomes. These are equity (to each according to contributions), equality (to each the same), and need (Deutsch 1975, 1985). Likewise, a just procedure should be bias-free, consistently applied, accurate, correctable, representative of all, and ethical (Leventhal 1980). Colquitt (2001) adds that interpersonally just treatment is polite, dignified, respectful, and contains no inappropriate remarks, while informationally just communication is candid, thorough, timely, and tailored to individual needs.

While future research may yield additional standards, Colquitt’s (2001) work provides a good sense of what is intended by a ‘justice rule.’ Overall, within deontic justice theory, justice rules are essentially seen as a type of moral norm (Folger 2001, 2011; Folger and Salvador 2008). As with other moral norms, these do not depend on the opinion of an authority figure (i.e., tend not to change due to third-party norm enforcement), and their violations warrant punishment (Smetana 1981, 1984, 1985, 1989).

Development of Moral Norms

Social and developmental psychology research has offered important insights to further understand this concept by suggesting that human beings recognize and apply moral standards from a very early age. For instance, in a study conducted by Hamlin and Wynn (2011), toddlers watched a puppet show in which the characters behaved either helpfully or unhelpfully toward other puppets. Children, as young as 5 months, preferred the kindly puppets to the disobliging ones (for a review, see Bloom 2013; Hamlin et al. 2010).

These childhood preferences reflect an ‘innate’ distinction that persists into adulthood—that between moral norms and social conventions (for a discussion on innateness and morality, see Haidt and Joseph 2007; Suhler and Churchland 2011). A social convention is a rule of behavior that, while making community life potentially more efficient, is not seen as correct for its own sake (Nucci and Nucci 1982). To at least some degree, children as young as three or four can distinguish social conventions (e.g., eating with fingers, standing during nap-time) from moral transgressions (e.g., pushing, stealing, hitting), and by age five they are quite good at telling the two apart (Smetana et al. 1993).

Moral Norms and Neuroscience

We will now turn our attention to neuroscience evidence that elucidates how our brain applies moral norms. We begin with a focus on the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and review studies of moral decision-making that highlight its involvement in two different types of moral violations. We then cover additional brain regions, such as the insulae, which are involved in emotional responses and in the application of justice rules.

The Trolley Problem, the Prefrontal Cortex, and Two Types of Moral Violations

Greene et al. (2001) conducted a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) study inspired by moral dilemmas that are often used in ethics research. One of the most remarkable dilemmas that influenced this research is the trolley problem (Thomson 1986). Usually, researchers present participants a scenario showing a runaway trolley with five people on it, which are tied and unable to move. If the trolley were to proceed on its path it would kill its occupants. The only way to save them is to activate a control that would switch the trolley’s path. When people are asked whether they are ought to press the button to save five people at the expense of one, most say yes. Yet, when people are posed with a different scenario their decisions are likely to be opposite. In this case, the participants are told that they are standing next to a stranger on a bridge obstructing the trolley’s path. The only way to save the five people is to push this stranger off the bridge causing his or her death. Although the ultimate result, from a rational perspective, is the same in both scenarios, people are less willing to save the five others by pushing the stranger.

Research on the trolley problem suggests that business ethics should attend more closely to a distinction between two different types of moral breaches—personal and impersonal. According to Greene and Haidt (2002), violations of moral norms are especially salient when the misbehavior is personal. These are behaviors that do relatively serious harm to a specific individual and that do so through the direct agency of the transgressor. In contrast, impersonal violations lack the aforementioned criteria. Moreover, Greene and colleagues (Greene et al. 2001, 2004) showed that personal transgressions are processed in areas of the brain pertaining to emotions, while those that are impersonal are processed in brain regions that pertain more strongly to cognition. Specifically, brain regions associated to emotions, like medial frontal gyrus, posterior cingulate gyrus, and angular gyrus, were more activated in the personal condition rather than in impersonal and even non-moral scenarios; parietal lobes, among other regions associated to cognition, were instead significantly less active in the personal condition than in the other paradigms (Greene et al. 2001).

Interestingly, Greene et al.’s (2001) findings closely parallel long standing observations by organizational justice researchers that interpersonal justice violations tend to generate greater outrage than do other types of injustices (Folger and Cropanzano 1998; Skarlicki and Folger 2004). Individuals with strong moral identities are especially likely to retaliate when observing interpersonal injustice (Skarlicki and Rupp 2010; O’Reilly et al. 2016). Likewise, interpersonal injustice, as opposed to other types, is more strongly related to workplace deviance (Colquitt et al. 2001; Judge et al. 2006). Research based on the trolley problem suggests that the importance of interpersonal justice may be ‘hard wired’ into our brain functioning.

This research (Greene et al. 2001) also revealed that reaction times were longer when participants judged personal violations as morally appropriate, as compared to when subjects judged them to be wrong, suggesting a key role for ‘executive control’ brain regions. Thus, in a follow-up study, Greene et al. (2004) focused on brain activity in the subjects’ prefrontal cortex (PFC), while deliberating over similar scenarios. The PFC is the anterior part of the frontal lobes of the brain—an area crucial for integrative, executive, and goal-directed functions (Fuster 2001). Research has often focused on the subdivisions of the PFC, in particular the ventromedial or vmPFC (Damasio 1996), orbitofrontal (Rolls 1996), and dorsolateral (Goldman-Rakic 1987) (for a more extensive review, see Christoff and Gabrieli 2000). While these regions have a vast network of connections and intertwined functions, speaking generally, the dorsolateral PFC is more critical for cognitive control (e.g., attention), while the orbitofrontal and vmPFC are largely associated to emotional processes and affective decision-making (Damasio et al. 1990; Gray et al. 2002; Rolls and Grabenhorst 2008).

In the trolley problem just described (Greene et al. 2001), researchers found increased ventromedial and decreased dorsolateral PFC activity in response to personal (i.e., bridge scenario) as opposed to impersonal (i.e., switching the trolley’s path) moral choices; the difference between these two situations also related to the salience of the victim. Moreover, in Greene et al. (2004) the dorsolateral PFC showed increased activity for difficult, as compared to easy personal dilemmas. Further, Luo et al. (2006) showed increased vmPFC activity in response to more critical moral transgressions compared to less severe (see, Blair 2007). What is more, lesions to the PFC create impairments for these types of moral decisions, supporting its essential role in applying moral rules (Ciaramelli et al. 2007; Koenigs et al. 2007).

Additional Brain Regions Involved and Justice Rules

Moll et al. (2002) provided additional insights into the relationship between human moral rules and emotions. They asked subjects to read short statements and judge them as being either right or wrong. In this way Moll and his colleagues forced participants to take a stand irrespectively of the content of the sentences. Some of the statements described either emotional situations provoking moral responses, others were emotionally negative scenarios with no moral substance, and others were non-emotional situations. These researchers found that moral judgments associated with negative emotions prompted activation in the antero-medial orbitofrontal cortex (OFC)—whose activation correlates with subjective emotional experiences. In support of this finding, injury to this part of the OFC impairs emotional behavior (for a review, see Rolls and Grabenhorst 2008). Non-moral judgments associated with unpleasant emotions induced activation of the lateral OFC and the amygdalae. The amygdalae have traditionally been associated with processing emotionally arousing stimuli and with sharing others’ emotions (Adolphs et al. 1994). In the study of Moll and colleagues, somewhat surprisingly, the amygdala did not show increased activation in the moral judgment condition. The researchers suggested that this is because the medial OFC ‘controls’ the amygdala’s activity (see also Baxter et al. 2000). Thus, the OFC could be critical for integrating our moral knowledge with emotions that reinforce moral actions.

Another brain region particularly salient to ‘justice rules’ is the anterior part of the insulae. This region is highly engaged in our emotional life, in particular when we experience disgust (Krolak-Salmon et al. 2003) and when we observe other people feeling disgust (Wicker et al. 2003). This basic emotion, which seems to have benefited our ancestors by helping them avoid unhealthy experiences, might have been co-opted by evolution to serve a moral purpose (Haidt 2003, 2006). In fact, it is common for people to respond to certain moral violations, especially those involving a perception of impure contamination, with a sense of disgust (e.g., Schnall et al. 2008, 2009; Skarlicki et al. 2013). Given such indication, one would expect involvement of the insulae when people make moral assessments on unfair events. Indeed, this seems to occur.

Sanfey et al. (2003) offered support to this claim by employing the Ultimatum Game in an fMRI study. In this game, a proposer gets an amount of money by the researchers and suggests how to divide the sum with another player. The receiver chooses to either accept or reject the proposal. If the second player accepts, then the money is divided accordingly. Otherwise, neither party gets any money. According to a rational choice perspective (e.g., Tversky and Kahneman 1986), the second player should accept any offer given, since this would always provide more money than what they originally had; however, in practice, divisions seen as unfair are often rejected. In Sanfey and colleagues’ experiment (2003), those offers judged as unfair elicited activity both in participants’ brain ‘cognitive’ areas (e.g., the dorsolateral PFC), as well as in the ‘emotional’ areas, such as the  anterior insulae (and in particular the right insula). Of interest here, this region showed higher activity on rejected unfair offers compared with fair offers, thereby suggesting, once again, a key role for emotional involvement in judgements of what is fair and what is not.

Finally, neuroscience research focusing on empathy and on Theory of Mind has also investigated how people make judgments about others’ actions (see e.g., Van Overwalle and Baetens 2009). For one, Singer and colleagues (2006) investigated how brain empathic responses are modulated by the affective link between individuals. These researchers measured brain activity of people observing confederates receiving pain when the accomplices had participated in a previous fairness game. Singer et al. (2006) found that subjects showed activation in fronto-insular and anterior cingulate cortices toward fair players who were allegedly being hurt. However, these responses were significantly reduced when people observed an unfair confederate receiving pain. In contrast, for unfair accomplishes the participants showed an increased activation in brain areas associated to reward. This evidence resonates with the idea of altruistic punishment, which, as we shall see later in more detail, is consistent with our theoretical model of deontic justice.

Conclusions and Research Needs

Overall, the studies described above provide a good example, not only of how recent neuroscience research has investigated neural correlates of justice paradigms, but also of how these insights advance business ethics by revealing that neural systems involved in both emotional and cognitive processes are relevant in the appraisal of moral rules. Moreover, this evidence suggests that ethical behavior involves an alignment between cognition and affect. Interestingly, the observation that ethics involves the right thoughts for the right reasons has long been observed by virtue ethicists (e.g., Annas 2011). This suggests that affect should play a larger role in business ethics, an idea that is consistent with theories of deontic justice (Folger et al. 2005).

Business ethicists should also take into account the implications of the trolley problem because there are different patterns of neural activation sustaining two distinct types of moral breaches—personal and impersonal (Greene et al. 2001). This has implications for a number of ethical problems. For example, consider the problem of white collar crime. Though white collar crime is far more costly to society than so-called ‘street crime,’ citizens persist in viewing white collar offenses as less problematic (Friedrichs 2010). In particular, the impersonal nature of white collar corruption may make it seem less troublesome than face-to-face misconduct. Subsequently, this could pose a challenge for ethical training and even law enforcement.

Closing Thoughts on Justice Rules

Organizational and psychological research suggests that justice rules are a type of moral norms: They are often deeply held universal standards, which emerge early in life (Smetana 1985, 1989). However, consideration of the experiments exploring the neural substrates of moral rules allows us to disentangle their meaning because it suggests that justice rules involve key brain regions that are relevant both to discriminating between personal and impersonal scenarios and to cognitive and affective experiences (Greene 2013). The latter evidence is particularly important for deontic justice theory for another reason relevant to the organizational life. Indeed, while justice rules can be seen as internalized standards for assessing the fairness of events, workers (and humans more generally) often fail to make use of them (Folger and Cropanzano 1998; Cropanzano et al. 2015). It is important to understand why this is the case.

As we shall see, we argue that this relationship is moderated by an individual’s empathy for others. When people feel empathy for others, they are more likely to treat them justly and respond to their unjust treatment by others (Blader and Tyler 2001; Hoffman 1994; Lerner and Goldberg 1999). If workers are not able to appreciate, internalize, and share others’ feelings, it becomes difficult to judge whether they are being treated justly and thereby to act accordingly. What is more, empathy relies on a dissociable cognitive and emotional neural system, which can moderate and also directly promote deontic justice.

Deontic Justice as an Empathic Process

Empathy, as the term is used here, refers to the set of processes that allows a person to share the psychological experience, both thoughts and feelings, of another individual (Batson 1999; Hoffman 1994). A rich body of research suggests that, when individuals feel empathy for others, they become more altruistic and cooperative toward them (e.g., Batson 2006; Batson and Ahmad 2001). Hoffman (2000, p. 3) has this sort of evidence in mind when he remarks that empathy is ‘the spark of human concern for others, the glue that makes social life possible.’ Additional evidence supporting the role of empathy in human morality has been explored by social psychologists (Batson 2009; Eisenberg and Fabes 1990; Tyler et al. 1997; Wispé 1986), philosophers (Churchland 2011; D’Arms 1998), and natural scientists (Decety and Lamm 2006; de Waal 2008; Preston and de Waal 2002). Likewise, Aderman et al. (1974) found that individuals are less prone to blame victims for their own moral adversity when they empathize with them.

While this work is impressive, research suggesting that empathy makes us behave more justly toward other people is even more relevant to business ethics and deontic justice theory. Patient and Skarlicki (2010) investigated the impact of empathy on justice judgments in the workplace, arguing that workers care more about justice when they share the other person’s emotions. In their first experiment, managers completed a role-playing scenario taking the perspective of someone who was downsizing an employee. Those who scored higher in empathy reported that they would behave more justly than did those who scored lower. In their second study with undergraduate participants, the authors also found that empathy induction increased the justice with which subjects behaved.

Empathy: Some General Remarks

In psychological research, the term empathy has been defined in various ways, some of which are not entirely consistent with one another (Batson 1995). Some scholars, for example, appear to treat empathy as a specific emotional state, which involves mindfulness of, and responsiveness to, another individual’s concerns (cf., Bagozzi and Moore 1994; Batson et al. 1995). However, it is more common to view empathy as a ‘vicarious emotion,’ which is associated with particular types of motivated behavior (Batson et al. 1987, p. 19). For example, people who feel empathy are more likely to assist a distressed individual, even if they are provided with an opportunity to exit the situation (Batson 1995). Other definitions of empathy are somewhat more rational, referring to understanding another person’s thoughts and feelings, rather than the sharing of their affect (Cohen and Strayer 1996).

These are important conceptual matters, but it is beyond our scope to thoroughly discuss all of empathy’s definitions here (for a comprehensive review, see Batson 2009). For the purposes of our model, and without gainsaying other approaches, we are primarily concerned with empathy as the sharing of other people’s feelings (Batson 1995), including the comprehension of their psychological contents (Cohen and Strayer 1996). In this way, we also incorporate the recognized distinction between cognitive empathy and affective empathy (e.g., Ang and Goh 2010; Hogan 1969). The former refers to understanding the contents of another person’s thinking and feeling (Pecukonis 1990). The latter refers to sharing the affective experiences of another individual (Hoffman 1994, 2000).

Consistent with this distinction, the neuroscience literature provides further evidence for disentangling these two types of empathy (e.g., Shamay-Tsoory 2011; Walter 2012; Zaki and Ochsner 2012). According to recent research with imaging and lesion studies (i.e., studies that enable the association of impaired brain areas to specific functions; Massaro 2015), there are two dissociable neural systems for empathy: One cognitive and the other emotional (Shamay-Tsoory et al. 2009). The two are highly related and both are important. A fully empathic experience involves (at least) components of affective sharing, cognitive self-awareness, and self-other distinction (Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright 2004; Blair 2005).

Remarkably, business ethics has not generally made this distinction explicit. For example, references to Batson’s (2009) definition of empathy appear to be more closely associated with cognitive empathy; Patient and Skarlicki’s work (2010) instead investigates affective empathy. To address this important concern for deontic justice theory, here we refer to cognitive empathy as the deliberate psychological process of recognizing and understanding another person’s thoughts and feelings. On the other side, affective empathy captures the similarity of feelings between one person and another, the so-called ‘experience sharing,’ which is more automatic and non-reflective (Walter 2012; Zaki and Ochsner 2012). We argue here that both types of empathy are critical for deontic justice.

Cognitive Empathy: Understanding the Victim’s Psychological Experience

As discussed earlier, deontic justice hinges on the way a person has been disadvantaged due to a violation of a social norm (Folger and Cropanzano 1998, 2001). In many situations, we gain such information through our evaluation of what the victim is thinking and feeling. Cognitive empathy provides the mechanism by which we evaluate another person’s psychological point of view (Frith and Singer 2008). Notice that the adjective ‘cognitive’ may be a bit misleading here, since it refers to how the observer understands the contents of another individual’s mind and feelings, not the accuracy of that understanding. Accordingly, our representation of other persons’ cognitions and emotions allow us to make inferences regarding their reactions to events. Relative to deontic justice, if we witness another person who is angry or frustrated by unfair treatment, cognitive empathy provides our appraisal of their feelings and the appropriateness of those feelings. However, it does not extend to sharing those feelings: Cognitive empathy, per se, maintains a sort of emotional distance between the victim and the third-party observer (e.g., Walter 2012).

As we shall show, current neuroscience research has begun to reveal key brain regions involved in cognitive empathy: the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), the posteromedial cortex (PMC), the prefrontal cortex (PFC), and the cingulate cortex. Next, we review evidence for each of these regions.

Temporoparietal Junction (TPJ)

The TPJ is that area of the brain where the parietal lobe meets the temporal lobe. Several studies indicate that the right TPJ (rTPJ) in particular is involved in our representations of other people’s cognitions and meta-cognition (Decety and Lamm 2007; Saxe 2006) and that the responses in this area peak just at the time when someone’s thoughts are described (Saxe et al. 2009; Young et al. 2007). For instance, Saxe and Wexler (2005) asked research participants to consider their feelings when evaluating two different types of information. First, they considered socially relevant information, which was presented as a scenario involving another person. Second, they considered a description of what that person ‘wanted’ or ‘believed.’ Their results showed that the rTPJ response was low when subjects were reading descriptions of the social background and rose when the psychological state of the protagonist was described. Moreover, the response in the rTPJ was higher when the protagonist’s background and the psychological state were incongruent, as compared to when they were consistent (Saxe and Wexler 2005).

While rTPJ activation seems to be aligned with the cognitive empathic idea that ‘people’s feelings have to be predicted from their own subjective desires’ (Terwogt and Rieffe 2003, p. 74), recent research indicates that fairness is also strongly related to activation of the rTPJ. Specifically, the hemodynamic response (i.e., a parameter employed to measure brain activation in fMRI research) in rTPJ shows a differentiation between morally good and bad actions before such response arises in other regions, such as the dorsolateral PFC (Yoder and Decety 2014). This supports the overall insight that rTPJ likely plays an anticipatory role in the cognitive empathic processes involved in deontic justice.

Posteromedial Cortex (PMC)

Another relevant brain area involved in cognitive empathy is the posteromedial cortex. This is an architectonically discrete region, which has been often understudied because of its anatomical location (Cavanna and Trimble 2006). Interestingly, this complex area has been just recently identified as the most active brain region during the so-called ‘resting state’ (Cauda et al. 2010)—that state when brain activity is measured in the absence of a task or experimental stimuli (Mastrovito 2013). Positron Emission Tomography (PET) studies, which are able to couple functional analyses with metabolic ones (for a methodological overview, see Massaro 2015), showed that PMC consumes about 40 % more glucose than the hemispheric mean, providing support for this view (Raichle et al. 2001).

While the resting state typically represented a control condition in early fMRI experiments, this view changed drastically with the discovery of functionally relevant information from resting-state activity (Biswal et al. 1995). Specifically, the Default Mode Network (DMN), a network of regions active during resting state has been identified using an array of recording techniques (Shulman et al. 1997; Mazoyer et al. 2001; Raichle et al. 2001). The DMN includes areas of the PMC, the inferior parietal cortices, as well as the dorsal and ventral areas of the medial frontal cortex (Uddin et al. 2009). A core characteristic of the DMN is that it consistently exhibits increased activity at rest, and decreased activity during task performance. The reliability of this observation, together with those on the brain’s metabolism, suggest that deactivation may be a way for the brain to sustain self-oriented psychological processes (Fransson 2005).

Of particular interest for our aims is the flexibility of the DMN. Indeed, the literature has revealed that tasks that activate the DMN share core processes, but differ across content and goals. For instance, Greene et al. (2001) observed that certain forms of moral judgment—the personal cognitive moral dilemmas—activate brain regions involved in the default network. Hence, deciphering moral dilemmas seems to be a situation where people cognitively empathize by a psychological understanding of events occurring to others (for related discussion, see Moll et al. 2005). The DMN as a whole likely plays an important role in forming a cognitive judgment of how fairly others are treated.

Prefrontal Cortex (PFC)

As discussed earlier, the prefrontal cortex is important for justice. Because it provides executive and goal-directed functions (Fuster 2001), this region is also be heavily involved in cognitive empathy (Shamay-Tsoory et al. 2003). Both the dorsolateral and ventromedial regions of the PFC have been related to morally just behavior (Carrington and Bailey 2009; Moll et al. 2005). vmPFC is particularly relevant to empathic processes according to evidence from neuroscience experiments involving pathological subjects. Shamay-Tsoory and Aharon-Peretz (2007) studied individuals with lesions in the ventromedial PFC and found that the ability to cognitively represent other people’s emotions was impaired. Yet, brain damage did not have the same disruptive effects when an individual was thinking about another person’s cognitions. Speaking more generally, damage to the vmPFC tends to impair decision-making by disrupting emotional processing (Bechara et al. 1997, 2000). These neurological subjects cognitively understand the situations they face, but lose the ‘affective signal’ that helps healthy brains to make ‘good’ choices (Damasio et al. 1990). These findings suggest that the vmPFC mediates the process of affective, though not cognitive, empathy.

Moreover, Greene et al. (2004) showed engagement of the dorsolateral PFC in moral cognitive control, and damage to the orbitofrontal PFC has been associated with misinterpretation of social situations and socially inappropriate behavior (Rolls 1996), supporting the PFC's overarching empathic role in deontic justice evaluations. This feature of the PFC is supported further by a recent study investigating brain activity during empathy for social exclusion, which showed how individuals who have more empathy for others experiencing negative social treatment will make greater efforts to help and support the victims in these situations (Masten et al. 2011).

Cingulate Cortex or Cingulum

Another important region for cognitive empathy is the cingulate cortex. This area integrates inputs from different sources and influences activity in other brain regions by modulating motor, endocrine, and visceral responses (Bush et al. 2000). It is subdivided into three regions: anterior, posterior, and medial. While, the anterior cingulate cortex (aCC), a large region around the rostrum of the corpus callosum, is generally involved in emotional awareness (Devinsky et al. 1995), a recent meta-analysis of neuroimaging research on empathy found that the left dorsal anterior mid-cingulate cortex is specifically pertinent to cognitive empathy (Fan et al. 2011). Similarly, the posterior cingulate cortex (pCC) appears to be engaged when individuals infer others’ feelings. For example, Maddock et al. (2003) found in an fMRI study that the pCC showed increased activation when research participants considered words (hence, understood) related to emotion.

A Complex Outlook

While the regions described above are ‘key players’ in cognitive empathy, other brain areas appear to be also relevant. For instance, the superior temporal sulcus has shown activation peaks in tasks evaluating our understanding of the intentions and goals of other people’s actions (Lee et al. 2014; Pelphrey et al. 2004). People are concerned with intentionality attributions (Lyons et al. 2006) when assigning moral blame to others. Individuals are less likely to be held responsible for a potential injustice if their alleged transgression was made with no intention to harm (Hewitt 1975; Karniol 1978; Miller and McCann 1979; Umphress et al. Umphress et al. 2013).

Thus, it is important to note that other brain areas and psychological processes may be crucial for our overall deontic justice experience, including outcome prediction, associative learning, and flexible evaluation of contingencies (Moll and de Oliveira-Souza 2007; Rolls 1996). However, while the interaction of these complex cognitive abilities with justice is surely a novel and fascinating area of research, evidence to support a more multifaceted framework in this respect is just beginning to appear (Moll and de Oliveira-Souza 2007), thus inevitably falling beyond the scope of the current work.

Affective Empathy: Sharing the Victim’s Psychological Experience

While cognitive empathy refers to the understanding of other people’s responses to injustice, this does not necessarily mean that we internalize these emotions in our moral behavior. In order to truly partake in another person’s plight, it is therefore essential for us to share their feelings. Affective or emotional empathy promotes such response (Davis 1994) and is often believed to be a largely involuntary, vicarious response to affective cues from another person (Decety and Jackson 2006; Hoffman 1994). As such, it is an affective state, elicited by the emotive non-verbal cues of the other(s), oriented toward such person(s), and similar (or isomorphic) to his or her state (Walter 2012).1 Moreover, it includes some sort of meta-knowledge about both the self and the other. As explained below, four brain areas appear to be particularly relevant to affective empathy in relation to deontic justice: the anterior insulae, the amygdalae, the somatosensory cortices, and the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG).

Anterior Insula

In each brain hemisphere, the insula is located at the interface of the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes; it is densely connected with several regions including the dorsolateral PFC, amygdala, and cingulate cortex (Augustine 1996; Mesulam and Mufson 1982). Neuroscience research has widely shown that several emotions—including anger, disgust, fear, sadness, and also happiness, a positive emotion (Phan et al. 2002)—are associated with insular cortex's activation, supporting the understanding that this region, and in particular the right insula, has a key role in affective empathy (Bernhardt and Singer 2012; Fan et al. 2011; Singer 2006).

Moreover, connectivity data support the idea that the insula plays an important integrative role in affect: Patterns of connectivity in resting-state functional neuroimaging studies suggest a key function of its anterior part in combining interoceptive and affective information (Critchley et al. 2004). These models propose that the anterior insula enables a subjective affective experience and global ‘feeling state’ (Cauda et al. 2011; Craig 2009). This is consistent with studies showing its role in sensitivity to moral justice, such as social exclusions (Masten et al. 2011; Robertson et al. 2007).


In each brain hemisphere, the amygdala is located near the temporal pole and has traditionally been associated with fear, among other emotions (Fanselow and Gale 2003; Phillips and LeDoux 1992). Fear, in our case, is relevant in relation to normative conformity because the fear of retribution can promote compliance toward others (Pfaff 2007). Adolphs et al. (1996) found that damage to the amygdala made it more difficult for individuals to correctly feel fear and other negative emotions, like anger and sadness. Interestingly, however, the ability to feel happiness was not harmed (Adolphs et al. 1994). As Gazzaniga (2008) points out, if damage to the amygdala makes us less able to feel an emotion, then we are correspondingly less able to share it with others. Indeed, the amygdala has also been found to be central in fairness and emotionally weighted moral decision-making (Blair 2007; Greene and Haidt 2002; Moll et al. 2002). Along these lines, there is increasing evidence from both neuroimaging and genetics studies that impairment of the amygdala may be involved in the etiology of antisocial (and even criminal) behavior (DeLisi et al. 2009).

Somatosensory Cortices

The human somatosensory cortices may also play an important role in our emotionally shared responses to deontic justice. These insights emerge from studies on pain. Indeed, our ability to experience another’s pain is a key characteristic of affective empathy (Singer et al. 2004). Singer et al. (2004) assessed brain activity while research subjects underwent a painful stimulus, and compared this activity to that elicited when the same subjects observed their beloved partners (who were present during the experiment) receiving similar pain stimuli. While the first-hand experience of pain resulted in the activation of the subjects’ somatosensory cortices, these regions showed no significant activation in response to the observation of the partners experiencing pain. The authors concluded that the aCC and bilateral anterior insula were affective mediators of empathy for pain, while the somatosensory cortices were not. In another fMRI study (Morrison et al. 2004), participants were presented images of hands and feet in painful or neutral situations and asked to envisage the level of pain that these conditions would produce. Once again, no signal change was detected in the somatosensory cortices, while there were significant activations in the cingulate cortex and in the insula.

However, at odds with these findings is a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) study in which individuals observed needles penetrating hands or feet of a human model and in objects. Avenanti et al. (2005) reported that the observation of pain does involve sensorimotor representation. Specifically, the results showed empathic inference about the sensory qualities of others’ pain together with an embodiment in the research subjects’ motor systems. This evidence is noteworthy because the TMS method is more sensitive to detection of subtle changes in cortical activity than fMRI techniques (Decety and Lamm 2006). Thus, this evidence suggests that observing another individual in a painful situation may yield ‘empathic responses’ in the somatosensory cortices. Moreover, overlaps between first-hand experiences of pain and perception of pain in others seem to reveal some degree of correspondence between self and others’ experiences (Decety and Lamm 2006).

There is more to add to this. The brain network involved in the perception of pain in others is also implicated in disgust and in situations involving risk. These are occurrences that spark visceral and somatosensory responses. Similarly, activation in the somatosensory cortex is not necessarily exclusive to the emotional appraisal of pain. Hence, it seems likely that neural responses in these areas are coupled with broader behavioral mechanisms, such as aversion and retraction (e.g., Decety and Lamm 2006; Singer and Lamm 2009), which are also typical of deontic justice. In support of this view, aversive representations similar to those observed in anticipation of, and response to, negative outcomes trigger activation in the somatosensory cortices (Bechara and Damasio 2005; Knutson and Greer 2008; Shenhav and Greene 2010). Overall, these cortical areas may play an important role in our sharing of others’ feelings following a ‘painful’ and unfair situation.

Inferior Frontal Gyrus (IFG)

Finally, one other brain region deserves our attention when discussing affective empathy. Neuroimaging studies of empathizing with people suffering serious threat or harm (Nummenmaa et al. 2008) reported the involvement of the Inferior Frontal Gyrus (IFG) in affective empathy (Shamay-Tsoory 2011). In particular, research has shown evidence for the existence of mirror neurons in the human IFG (Kilner et al. 2009). Mirror neurons are a class of visuomotor neurons, originally discovered in an area of the monkey premotor cortex, that are electrophysiologically responsive when an individual observes another individual performing a particular action and then does a similar behavior (for a thorough review, see Rizzolatti and Craighero 2004).

Despite the intense debate on this topic (for a primer, see Keysers 2009), a growing number of neuroimaging studies show that the IFG has activation peaks when a person sees another person experiencing an emotion. This supports the idea that this area could also be a principal neural site for empathy. Specifically, IGF activation has been reported in negative emotional responses and decision-making in conditions of justice dilemmas (Majdandžić et al. 2012), suggesting its relevance for deontic justice.

Cognitive and Affective Empathy Working Together

In normal healthy adults, cognitive and affective empathy, whose main supporting neural systems are summarized in Table 1, tend to work in concert (Pessoa 2014).
Table 1

Summary of main neural systems involved in cognitive and affective empathy

Cognitive empathy

Affective empathy

Temporoparietal junction

Anterior insulae

Posteromedial cortex


Prefrontal cortex

Somatosensory cortices

Cingulate cortex

Inferior frontal gyrus

Both are engaged in moral behavior (Zaki and Ochsner 2012), with each playing important and complimentary roles. In short, cognitive empathy allows us to appreciate other people’s minds, including both their thoughts and their emotions, while affective empathy allows us to share their emotional experiences, softening the boundaries that separate individuals (Pfaff 2007). We can illustrate this idea further by considering evidence from clinical and neuropsychological research. Koeings et al. (2007), for instance, found that individuals with a damage to their vmPFC, which prevented the normal processing of affective information, tended to make moral decisions in a ‘cold’ logical way, which these authors term ‘utilitarian.’

Similarly, psychopaths have reasonably sound abilities to make cognitive inferences (Brüne and Brüne-Cohrs 2006), but appear to be emotionally disinterested in the suffering of others (Baron-Cohen 2011). Thus, in psychopathy only affective empathy is impaired, while cognitive empathy is maintained and possibly heightened (Blair 2005; Shamay-Tsoory et al. 2010). Autistic patients instead seem to have deficiencies in both their cognitive and affective empathy (Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright 2004). Notice that the moral comportment is impaired in both psychopathy and autism, though the resulting patterns of behavior are different for each condition. In any case, moral thinking can be impeded if either type of empathy is diminished (Moll et al. 2005). This suggests that the two types of empathy help people to behave justly. This is important for deontic justice in organizations because a wide variety of organizational contexts (culture, training, leadership, etc.) can influence the manifestation of each type of empathy.

This said, when making fairness judgments regarding others, cognitive and affective empathy work closely in a ‘bi-directional fashion’ (see Fig. 1). Neuroscience research has suggested that a dual-path—‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’—system may be relevant in processing human morality and empathy (Table 2) (Walter 2012; Zhan et al. 2013).
Table 2

Possible role of the PFC in the ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ processing of justice and empathy


Role of PFC


The frontal cortex ‘represents’ moral goals that control the information flow in other cortical and subcortical areas when an automatic response needs to be overcome (see e.g., Miller and Cohen 2001)


vmPFC stores links of subcortical ‘somatic markers’ and action knowledge in posterior brain areas. This would explain problems with decision-making after brain lesions (see e.g., Bechara et al. 2000)

This remark resonates with other neuroscience and psychological perspectives on dual processing systems. For instance, much debate has focused on how emotions arise (Lazarus 1984; Zajonc 1984) via low-level processes—that provide quick, bottom-up affective considerations of stimuli—or via high-level—top-down cognitive appraisal processes that draw upon stored knowledge. Speaking generally, dual process mechanisms are believed to be recurrent ways of processing information in the brain.

Similarly, cognitive empathy may act as the ‘high road’ or ‘top-down’ processing, while affective empathy as ‘low road’ or ‘bottom-up’ processing of deontic justice. The ‘low road’ path essentially means that some basic features of an individual, representing strong affective states or suffering conditions (i.e., facial expressions, body movements, or obvious features like injuries), trigger an automatic response. Conversely, the ‘high road’ to empathy suggests that it also relies on higher cognitive mechanisms, like reasoning based on logical and contextual relations and situations, that cascade in a top-down process.

Specifically, we argue that cognitive and affective empathy are reinforcing mechanisms for each other, which can differently elicit evaluations of justice rules. Thus, the ‘high road’ processing implies that workers are consciously evaluating the mistreatment of others. By doing so, they will consequently engage affective empathy. On the other side, when empathy takes the ‘low road’ employees may first experience affective empathy. This intuitive and automatic process can then powerfully engage their cognitive empathy.

Conclusions and Research Needs

While the two forms of empathy are experimentally dissociable, we shall stress that they normally work in concert. Moreover, neuroscience insights are gradually yielding toward a merged perspective holding that both top-down and bottom-up processes are involved and important for our information processing (for affective processing, see Ochsner et al. 2009; for justice processing, see Moll et al. 2005). In this way, knowledge of sequences of social actions or events would be ‘filtered’ in brain regions like the PFC and the cingulate cortex, in turn enabling emergence of just behavior (Moll et al. 2005; Zhan et al. 2013). Folger and Salvador (2008) and Folger and Glerum (2015) have argued that researchers have paid insufficient attention to the role of intuitive, bottom-up ethical judgments. These researchers appear to be making an important argument that is consistent with the neuroscience evidence we have reviewed. This would seem to be an important direction for future business ethics research. In addition, the distinction between cognitive and affective empathy is important for deontic justice research in organizations because a wide variety of organizational contexts (culture, training, leadership, etc.) can influence the manifestation of each type of empathy. Future research can draw on insights and methods from neuroscience to investigate the unique effects further.

Empathy’s Direct Effects on Behavior: Too Much of a Good Thing?

We have thus far emphasized empathy as a complex moderator of the relationship between an event and the application of a justice rule. As we have discussed, empathizing with others tends to make workers behave more fairly (Patient and Skarlicki 2005). However, there is more to the matter. When others are in distress, we are also more likely to render empathic altruistic assistance (Batson 1995, 2006; Masten et al. 2011). We have represented this effect in Fig. 1 by the inclusion of a direct link from empathy to fairness. We explore this possibility below.

Empathy and the Potential for Preferential Treatment

To better illustrate this case let us consider the work of Batson et al. (1995). In their initial experiment, these scholars had undergraduate research participants work with two other students. In the critical conditions, research subjects were read a note from one of the other individuals in the experiment. The note came from a ‘Participant C.’ The experimenter instructed them to either ‘imagine how this [Participant C] student feels,’ whereas others were told to ‘take an objective perspective.’ The former instructors promoted empathy, while the latter did not. The subject was then given the opportunity to assign the other students—either Participant C or Participant B—to a task with positive consequences or else to a task with negative consequences. When empathy had been induced for Participant C, then the subject was more likely to assign that individual to the positive task, at the expense of leaving the negative task for the other student. These findings were replicated in a second experiment. Thus, empathy directly caused decision-makers to show unfair preferential treatment. That is, while empathy (both cognitive and affective) will often motivate us to behave altruistically (Batson 1995), it will not motivate us to treat everyone consistently.

Empathy-Induced Preferential Treatment and Justice

Thus far, our account of empathy-induced preferential treatment would suggest that employees who feel empathic concern for another person would ignore issues of justice. However, that does not seem to be the case—at least not from the perspective of the individual enacting the behavior. In an important contribution, Blader and Rothman (2014) present four studies which replicate the relationship between empathic concern and preferential treatment. However, these authors offer two additional insights.

First, they found that if a decision-maker was held accountable by a third party, then he or she would not tend to show preferential behavior when empathy was high. Second, Blader and Rothman (2014) measured fairness perceptions. They found that fairness mediated the effects of empathy. That is, high-empathy participants believe that they made fair choices, both when they exhibited preferential treatment (in the low accountability conditions) and when they did not (in the high accountability conditions).

These findings are very important to our model (see also Blader and Tyler 2001). Individuals who empathize believe that they are behaving fairly, even when they show preferential treatment. Or, one might say, even when they violate rules of even-handed justice (e.g., consistent treatment, equity). While this could be a significant problem for organizations, Blader and Rothman (2014) offer a solution. The disinterested perspective of an informed third party may serve to counterbalance the biased viewpoint of an empathic individual. Organizations may wish to design interventions that include active third parties that monitor decisions where their might be conflicts of interest created by empathy (Bazerman and Tenbrunsel 2011).


Historically, most theories of justice in business ethics have argued that workers want to be fairly treated because it benefits them, either through long-term instrumental control or else through enhancing their social status (Cropanzano et al. 2003; Folger and Butz 2004). In contrast to these earlier models, deontic justice emphasizes the notion of ‘oughts’ (Folger and Glerum 2015). Other people should be treated in a way that they deserve, in accordance with standards of fairness (Folger 2001, 2011). While evidence favoring a deontic model of justice has been steadily increasing (e.g., Colquitt et al. 2006; Folger et al. 2013; Reb et al. 2006; Turillo et al. 2002), skepticism remains (e.g., Colquitt and Greenberg 2001; Gillespie and Greenberg 2005; Greenberg 2001).

We argue that this skepticism could be better addressed, at least in part, by articulating a model of deontic justice, supported by current neuroscience evidence, to explain how a worker can transcend self-interest by being concerned with the plight and needs of others (Folger and Salvador 2008). To address this theoretical need we have focused on three interrelated psychological processes and reviewed supporting neural systems:
  • Justice rules People sometimes interpret events in ethical terms. As such, individuals distinguish between practical, but somewhat arbitrary social conventions (e.g., drive on the left side of the road in the United Kingdom, but the right side in the United States), and moral principles (i.e., Thou shalt not kill!). When compared to social conventions, justice rules (a) tend not to be based on social authority, and (b) their violations warrant punishment (Smetana 1985, 1989).

  • Cognitive empathy This implies that individuals understand and recognize the contents of others’ minds. That is, they shall ‘cognitively comprehend’ what others are thinking and feeling when victims of injustice.

  • Affective empathy ‘Knowing’ is not the same as ‘caring.’ Individuals also emotionally connect and share the affective state of potential victims of injustice. When they experience the pain that other people feel due to unfair treatment, it becomes more substantive and important to them.

According to our model, we argue that deontic thinking involves using a justice rule to make sense out of an unfortunate situation for others. If the rule was violated, then the worker is apt to conclude that unfairness occurred. This rule is most likely to be applied when one experiences cognitive and affective empathy toward the victim. Though, at times, when empathy is strong, an individual may bypass the justice rule and preferentially intervene to help a colleague.

Theoretical and Practical Implications

In this paper we have outlined a novel theoretical model for business ethics suggesting that deontic justice—our concern with other people’s just treatment—arises from a set of psychological processes which, to speak loosely, are ‘hard wired’ into our brains (Tancredi 2005). This also suggests that justice—or its absence—could impact employees on a more fundamental level than is often recognized. As alluded to earlier, workers who feel that they have been unjustly treated experience poorer health (Cropanzano and Wright 2011) and are likely to seek revenge even when doing so is personally costly (Fehr and Gächter 2000). This is not surprising, given the robust processing and salience of fairness-related information.

A related insight for deontic justice theory is that, while human beings are concerned with their self-interest, they are also concerned with their moral principles (Folger 2001, 2011). The research evidence we have reviewed here supports these contentions. Justice, as well as ethics more generally, is a central concern in human existence (Cropanzano et al. 2007). For this reason, justice matters beyond particular individuals. Third parties often care about how others are treated even when they are not directly impacted (Skarlicki and Kulik 2005). Given this, the pernicious effects of injustice are likely to be spread rapidly through an organization, as some employees become displeased with the treatment and experiences of their coworkers (Skarlicki et al. 2015). Indeed, justice in its deontic form appears to be relevant beyond focal employee-manager interactions: It may push employees to exhibit negative behaviors and attitudes toward the organization if they witness their peers encountering moral adversity (Skarlicki et al. 1998). Hence, proactive organizations should account for deontic justice as a part of the organization’s overall culture, rather than through a piecemeal series of one-on-one interventions (Monin et al. 2013). To achieve this goal, organizations could begin by designing management systems that conform to justice rules (Fortin and Fellenz 2008), such as providing voice and respectful interpersonal treatment (Cugueró-Escofet and Rosanas 2013). In this way, valuable behaviors, such as organizational citizenship or whistleblowing will be more likely to occur (Umphress et al. 2010).

As explained throughout, incorporating neuroscience evidence into accounts of organizational justice strongly suggests that ethical decisions are often influenced by intuition and affect, as well as by moral reasoning (e.g., Greene 2013). This observation has a somewhat different emphasis than most traditional accounts of business ethics, which focus on moral reasoning as opposed to more intuitive and affective processes (cf. Salvador and Folger 2009). The present model suggests that these two views of business ethics should be re-balanced, because incorporating an organizational neuroscience perspective reveals that implicit empathic processes play a significant role in shaping the observed behaviors in response to the unfair treatment of others (Becker et al. 2011). For example, Masten et al. (2011) showed that witnessing social mistreatment of others required both forms of empathy to produce action. What is more, the present model explains that empathy should be considered as a dual construct rather than a single concept, showing relevance of our model, not just for ethical thinking, but also to organizational research at large. Previous research has sometimes considered empathy as either one type (e.g., affective sharing) or another (e.g., cognitive understanding). Supported by neuroscience research, we maintain that this ‘either/or’ approach should be replaced with ‘this and that.’ That is, there are two types of empathy and both are important.

Thus, from a practical perspective, our conceptualization may explain why training and other interventions to influence organizational justice, which are often based on rational ‘cold’ approaches, sometimes produce disappointing results (Ludwig and Longenecker 1993). Among other possibilities, our present model suggests that ethical conduct at work could be enhanced by training people in empathy (Pecukonis 1990). For instance, among health care professionals, there have been promising findings with these types of programs (e.g., LaMonica et al. 1976; Riess et al. 2012), and we would recommend that they be considered more broadly. It also reinforces the value of compassionate organizational culture (Barsade and O’Neill 2014; Karakas and Sarigollu 2013).

Along these lines, neuroscience research itself provides practical information on how deontic justice can be ‘manipulated’ in our brain. For one, Knoch et al. (2006) employed Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a non-invasive method used to inhibit small regions of the brain by low-frequency stimulation (O’Shea and Walsh 2007) while subjects were playing the Ultimatum Game. They found that one third of the participants whose right dorsolateral PFC was inhibited, accepted all the offers, even those clearly unfair. Similarly, the ‘manipulation’ of socio-moral behavior has been explored with neuro-pharmacological approaches, like those involving intranasal administration of oxytocin (Kosfeld et al. 2005). Oxytocin-treated subjects increased trust while performing a trust game (i.e., they assigned more money to the trustees) if compared to the control group. While the application of these approaches has not yet been employed in the workplace, their potential use will necessarily require a priori and shared ethical guidelines ensuring real benefits for workers.

Finally, we readily recognize that each of the different neuroscience methods we have mentioned in our paper will hold specific informative power in future testing of our model. For one, if neuro-pharmacological approaches may promote empathy and fairness, fMRI will be able to further inform on the neural substrates activated during justice-related experimental tasks or games. Yet, we hope that the cross-disciplinary nature of our framework will not only promote novel investigations on the highlighted brain regions of interest, but will also encourage the integration of this neuroscience information with more traditional business research methods as a means to comprehensively advance future research on deontic justice.

Limitations and Further Research Avenues

We should remark that in this work we have sought to advance current theory on deontic justice by proposing an interdisciplinary framework, rather than suggesting replacement of existing accounts of organizational justice exclusively with neuroscience research. Indeed, despite the promises of neuroscience to advance organizational justice research, we must point out a number of related limitations and cautions. Neuroscience research in these areas is still in its relative infancy (Zhan et al. 2013). As such, business ethics scholars need to be wary of placing too much weight on any single study or on a unique methodological approach. Several methodological avenues will likely contribute to advance the understanding of the neural substrates and psychological processes involved in deontic justice. For instance, Electroencephalography (EEG) has the potential to add ecological validity to deontic justice research. For one, Stikic et al. (2013) have already assessed engagement and leadership at both the individual and team levels in a social responsibility scenario.

Other research has also shown that EEG investigations can inform decision-making strategies (Jacobs et al. 2006) and help to disentangle affective and cognitive processes (Knyazev and Slobodskaya 2003; Pfurtscheller and Da Silva 1999). Moreover, coherence analysis—a measure of the degree to which EEG signals at two distinct scalp locations are linearly related to one another—is often associated with studies on individual traits (Harmon-Jones et al. 2010), thus suggesting promising avenues to appreciate individual differences in deontic justice.

Overall, the employment of interdisciplinary approaches will provide a viable opportunity for researchers to move the field forward. In parallel, we also recommend that organizational neuroscience should attempt to offer further meta-analytical evidence and ensure reproducibility of existing findings. Only then will nuanced theoretical business propositions and ecologically comprehensive paradigms match a multidisciplinary effort to further refine theoretical frameworks, such as the one presented here.

In concluding, our model suggests that there are at least two broad paradigms for future research. The first of these concerns issues regarding individual differences. It is a point of everyday experience to recognize that some people care more about morality than others (Shao et al. 2008). Our review suggests that these differences can be reflected in neural differences among people (Baron-Cohen 2011; Kiehl 2006). Moreover, as deontic justice is heavily moderated by both cognitive and affective constructs, individuals’ impairments in any link of this chain will reduce deontic justice in predictable ways. However, neuroscience evidence suggests that situational context and conditions are also important. For example, the cognitive empathy system may ‘fail’ due to strong out-group attributions (Haney et al. 1973), the framing of an ethical problem (Bazerman and Tenbrunsel 2011), or the type of violation (Greene et al. 2001). Future theoretical and empirical extensions of our model shall explicitly take these cues into account. In this regard, our present framework will serve as a helpful opening roadmap.

Finally, while future research may yield novel findings in this area, we suggest that organizations should always attend closely to the work environment, designing it so that organizational justice, as a whole, is not inadvertently restrained by structural or procedural flaws. In this regard, our model might also help inform future interventions. For example, as much of the information that influences ethical behavior is also processed outside of workers’ cognitive awareness (i.e., affective empathy), organizations should build cues into the environment that reinforce empathy while avoiding signals that unfair behavior is acceptable (Bazerman and Tenbrunsel 2011).


Our moral lapses (Batson 2006; Batson et al. 1997) and self-deceptions (Batson et al. 1999) notwithstanding, deontic justice suggests that justice is important for its own sake, even when it does not directly serve our self-interest. This appears to involve at least three psychological mechanisms: Cognitive empathy, affective empathy, and our ability to evaluate and apply moral rules. As seen, these processes are associated with neural systems working together to form and direct an internalized sense of deontic justice.


  1. 1.

    Interestingly, scholars have debated whether or not affective empathy involves emotional contagion. Some researchers have argued that emotional contagion is a distinct construct because it indicates the lack of awareness as to whether the source of the experienced state is the self or another person (e.g., Fan et al. 2011; Walter 2012). Other scholars have instead supported the view that affective empathy holds characteristics similar to those of emotional contagion (e.g., Zaki and Ochsner 2012). Such debates may result from the different definitions that researchers give to empathy and its forms (Batson 2009). We cannot resolve this issue here, but it illustrates the sort of interesting research questions still remaining.


  1. Aderman, D., Brehm, S. S., & Katz, L. B. (1974). Empathic observation of an innocent victim: The just world revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29, 342–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adolphs, R., Damasio, H., Tranel, D., & Damasio, A. R. (1996). Cortical systems for the recognition of emotion in facial expressions. Journal of Neuroscience, 16, 7678–7687.Google Scholar
  3. Adolphs, R., Tranel, D., Damasio, H., & Damasio, A. R. (1994). Impaired recognition of emotion in facial expressions following bilateral damage to the human amygdala. Nature, 372, 669–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ambrose, M. L., Harland, L. K., & Kulik, C. T. (1991). Influence of social comparisons on perceptions of organizational fairness. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76, 239–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ang, R. P., & Goh, D. H. (2010). Cyberbullying among adolescents: The role of affective and cognitive empathy, and gender. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 41, 387–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Annas, J. (2011). Intelligent virtue. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Aryee, S., & Chay, Y. W. (2001). Workplace justice, citizenship behavior, and turnover intentions in a union context: Examining the mediating role of perceived union support and union instrumentality. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 154–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Augustine, J. R. (1996). Circuitry and functional aspects of the insular lobe in primates including humans. Brain Research Reviews, 22, 229–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Avenanti, A., Bueti, D., Galati, G., & Aglioti, S. M. (2005). Transcranial magnetic stimulation highlights the sensorimotor side of empathy for pain. Nature Neuroscience, 8, 955–960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bagozzi, R. P., & Moore, D. J. (1994). Public service advertisements: Emotions and empathy guide prosocial behavior. Journal of Marketing, 58, 56–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Baron-Cohen, S. (2011). The science of evil: On empathy and the origins of cruelty. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  12. Baron-Cohen, S., & Wheelwright, S. (2004). The empathy quotient: an investigation of adults with Asperger syndrome or high functioning autism, and normal sex differences. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34, 163–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Barsade, S. G., & O’Neill, O. A. (2014). What’s love got to do with it? A longitudinal study of the culture of companionate love and employee and client outcomes in the longterm care setting. Administrative Science Quarterly, 59, 551–598. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Batson, C. D. (1995). Pro-social motivation: Why do we help others? In A. Tesser (Ed.), Advanced social psychology (pp. 332–381). Boston: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  15. Batson, C. D. (1999). Altruism and pro-social behavior. In D. T. Gilbert, S. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 282–316). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  16. Batson, C. D. (2006). “Not all self-interest after all”: Economics of empathy-induced altruism. In D. De Cremer, M. Zeelenberg, & J. K. Murnighan (Eds.), Social psychology and economics (pp. 281–299). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  17. Batson, C. D. (2009). These things called empathy: Eight related but distinct phenomena. In J. Decety & I. William (Eds.), The social neuroscience of empathy (pp. 3–15). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Batson, C. D., & Ahmad, N. (2001). Empathy-induced altruism in a prisoner’s dilemma II: What if the target of empathy has defected? European Journal of Social Psychology, 31, 25–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Batson, C. D., Batson, J. G., Todd, R. M., Brummett, B. H., Shaw, L. L., & Aldeguer, C. M. R. (1995a). Empathy and the collective good: Caring for one of the others in a social dilemma. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 619–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Batson, C. D., Fultz, J., & Schoenrade, P. A. (1987). Distress and empathy: Two qualitatively distinct vicarious emotions with different motivational consequences. Journal of Personality, 55, 19–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Batson, C. D., Klein, T. R., Highberger, K., & Shaw, L. L. (1995b). Immorality from empathy-induced altruism: When compassion and justice conflict. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 1042–1054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Batson, C. D., Kobrynowicy, D., Dinnerstein, J. L., Kampf, H. C., & Wilson, A. D. (1997). In a very different voice: Unmasking moral hypocrisy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 1335–1348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Batson, C. D., Tompson, E. R., Seuferling, G., Whitney, E., & Strongman, J. A. (1999). Moral hypocrisy: Appealing moral to oneself without being so. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 525–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Baxter, M. G., Parker, A., Lindner, C. C., Izquierdo, A. D., & Murray, E. A. (2000). Control of response selection by reinforcer value requires interaction of amygdala and orbital prefrontal cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 20, 4311–4319. Google Scholar
  25. Bazerman, M. H., & Tenbrunsel, A. E. (2011). Blind spots: Why we fail to do what’s right and what to do about it. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Bechara, A., & Damasio, A. R. (2005). The somatic marker hypothesis: A neural theory of economic decision. Games and Economic Behavior, 52, 336–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Bechara, A., Damasio, H., Tranel, D., & Damasio, A. R. (1997). Deciding advantageously before knowing the advantageous strategy. Science, 275, 1293–1295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Bechara, A., Tranel, D., & Damasio, H. (2000). Characterization of the decision-making deficit of patients with ventromedial prefrontal cortex lesions. Brain, 123, 2189–2202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Becker, W. J., Cropanzano, R., & Sanfey, A. G. (2011). Organizational Neuroscience: Taking Organizational Theory Inside the Neural Black Box. Journal of Management, 37, 933–961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Bernhardt, B. C., & Singer, T. (2012). The neural basis of empathy. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 35, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Beugré, C. D. (2009). Exploring the neural basis of fairness: A model of neuro-organizational justice. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 110, 129–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Biswal, B., Zerrin Yetkin, F., Haughton, V. M., & Hyde, J. S. (1995). Functional connectivity in the motor cortex of resting human brain using echo-planar MRI. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 34, 537–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Blader, S. L., & Rothman, N. B. (2014). Paving the road to preferential treatment with good intentions: Empathy, accountability, and fairness. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 50, 65–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Blader, S. L., & Tyler, T. R. (2001). Justice and empathy: What motivates people to help others? In M. Ross & D. T. Miller (Eds.), The justice motive in everyday life (pp. 226–250). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Blader, S. L., & Tyler, T. R. (2015). Relational models of procedural justice. In R. S. Cropanzano & M. Ambrose (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of justice in work organizations (pp. 351–370). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Blair, R. J. R. (2005). Responding to the emotions of others: Dissociating forms of empathy through the study of typical and psychiatric populations. Consciousness and Cognition, 14, 698–718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Blair, R. J. R. (2007). The amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex in morality and psychopathy. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11, 387–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Bloom, P. (2013). Just babies: The origin of good and evil. New York: Crowne Publishing.Google Scholar
  39. Brüne, M., & Brüne-Cohrs, U. (2006). Theory of mind—evolution, ontogeny, brain mechanisms and psychopathology. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 30, 437–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Bush, G., Luu, P., & Posner, M. I. (2000). Cognitive and emotional influences in anterior cingulate cortex. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 215–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Carrington, S. J., & Bailey, A. J. (2009). Are there theory of mind regions in the brain? A review of the neuroimaging literature. Human Brain Mapping, 30, 2313–2335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Casebeer, W. D. (2003). Moral cognition and its neural constituents. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 4, 840–847.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Cauda, F., D’Agata, F., Sacco, K., Duca, S., Geminiani, G., & Vercelli, A. (2011). Functional connectivity of the insula in the resting brain. Neuroimage, 55, 8–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Cauda, F., Geminiani, G., D’Agata, F., Sacco, K., Duca, S., Bagshaw, A. P., & Cavanna, A. E. (2010). Functional connectivity of the posteromedial cortex. PLoS ONE, 5, e13107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Cavanna, A. E., & Trimble, M. R. (2006). The precuneus: a review of its functional anatomy and behavioural correlates. Brain, 129, 564–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Christoff, K., & Gabrieli, J. D. (2000). The frontopolar cortex and human cognition: Evidence for a rostrocaudal hierarchical organization within the human prefrontal cortex. Psychobiology, 28, 168–186.Google Scholar
  47. Churchland, P. S. (2011). Braintrust: What neuroscience tells us about morality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ciaramelli, E., Muccioli, M., Làdavas, E., & di Pellegrino, G. (2007). Selective deficit in personal moral judgment following damage to ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, 9, 84–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Clayton, S., & Opotow, S. (2003). Justice and identity: Changing perspectives on what is fair. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 7, 298–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Cohen, D., & Strayer, J. (1996). Empathy in conduct-disordered and comparison youth. Developmental Psychology, 32, 988–998.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Cohen-Charash, Y., & Spector, P. E. (2001). The role of justice in organizations: A meta-analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 86, 278–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Colquitt, J. A. (2001). On the dimensionality of organizational justice: A construct validation of a measure. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 386–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Colquitt, J. A., Conlon, D. E., Wesson, M. J., Porter, C. O., & Ng, K. Y. (2001). Justice at the millennium: A meta-analytic review of 25 years of organizational justice research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 425–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Colquitt, J. A., & Greenberg, J. (2001). Doing justice to organizational justice: Forming and applying fairness judgments. In S. Gilliland, D. Steiner, & D. Skarlicki (Eds.), Theoretical and cultural perspectives on organizational justice (pp. 217–242). Greenwich, CT: JAI.Google Scholar
  55. Colquitt, J. A., & Rodell, J. B. (2015). Measuring justice and fairness. In R. Cropanzano & M. A. Ambrose (Eds.), Oxford handbook of justice in work organizations (pp. 187–202). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Colquitt, J. A., Scott, B. A., Judge, T. A., & Shaw, J. C. (2006). Justice and personality: Using integrative theories to derive moderators of justice effects. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 100, 110–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Craig, A. D. (2009). How do you feel—now? The anterior insula and human awareness. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 10, 59–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Critchley, H. D., Wiens, S., Rotshtein, P., Öhman, A., & Dolan, R. J. (2004). Neural systems supporting interoceptive awareness. Nature Neuroscience, 7, 189–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Cropanzano, R., Byrne, Z. S., Bobocel, D. R., & Rupp, D. R. (2001). Moral virtues, fairness heuristics, social entities, and other denizens of organizational justice. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 58, 164–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Cropanzano, R., Fortin, M., & Kirk, J. (2015). How do we know when we are treated fairly? Justice rules and fairness judgments. In J. R. B. Halbeslesben, A. Wheeler, & M. R. Buckley (Eds.), Research in personnel and human resources management (Vol. 33, pp. 279–350). Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Cropanzano, R., Goldman, B., & Folger, R. (2003). Deontic justice: The role of moral principles in workplace fairness. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24, 1019–1024.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Cropanzano, R., & Moliner, C. (2013). Hazards of justice: Egocentric bias, moral judgments, and revenge-seeking. In S. M. Elias (Ed.), Deviant and criminal behavior in the workplace (pp. 155–177). New York: New York University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Cropanzano, R., Stein, J., & Goldman, B. M. (2007). Self-interest. In E. H. Kessler & J. R. Bailey (Eds.), Handbook of organizational and managerial wisdom (pp. 181–221). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  64. Cropanzano, R., & Wright, T. A. (2011). The impact of organizational justice on occupational health. In J. C. Quick & L. E. Tetrick (Eds.), Handbook of occupational health psychology (pp. 205–219). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  65. Cugueró-Escofet, N., & Fortin, M. (2014). One justice or two? A model of reconciliation of normative justice theories and empirical research on organizational justice. Journal of Business Ethics, 124, 435–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Cugueró-Escofet, N., & Rosanas, J. M. (2013). The just design and use of management control systems as requirements for goal congruence. Management Accounting Review, 24, 23–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. DaGloria, J., & DeRidder, R. (1977). Aggression in dyadic interaction. European Journal of Social Psychology, 7, 189–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. DaGloria, J., & DeRidder, R. (1979). Sex differences in aggression: Are current notions misleading? European Journal of Social Psychology, 9, 49–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Damasio, A. R. (1996). The somatic marker hypothesis and the possible functions of the prefrontal cortex. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, 351, 1413–1420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Damasio, A. R., Tranel, D., & Damasio, H. (1990). Individuals with sociopathic behavior caused by frontal damage fail to respond autonomically to social stimuli. Behavioral Brain Research, 41, 81–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. D’Arms, J. (1998). Empathy and evaluative inquiry. Chicago-Kent Law Review, 74, 4.Google Scholar
  72. Davis, M. H. (1994). Empathy: A social psychological approach. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  73. De Waal, F. B. (2008). Putting the altruism back into altruism: The evolution of empathy. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 279–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Decety, J., & Jackson, P. L. (2006). A social-neuroscience perspective on empathy. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15, 54–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Decety, J., & Lamm, C. (2006). Human empathy through the lens of social neuroscience. The Scientific World Journal, 6, 1146–1163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Decety, J., & Lamm, C. (2007). The role of the right temporoparietal junction in social interaction: how low-level computational processes contribute to meta-cognition. The Neuroscientist, 13, 580–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. DeLisi, M., Umphress, Z. R., & Vaughn, M. G. (2009). The criminology of the amygdala. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 36, 1241–1252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. DeRidder, R. (1985). Normative considerations in the labeling of harmful behavior as aggressive. Journal of Social Psychology, 125, 659–666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Deutsch, M. (1975). Equity, equality, and need: What determines which value will be used as the basis of distributive justice? Journal of Social Issues, 31, 137–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Deutsch, M. (1985). Distributive justice. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  81. Devinsky, O., Morrell, M. J., & Vogt, B. A. (1995). Contributions of anterior cingulate cortex to behaviour. Brain, 18, 279–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Dulebohn, J. H., Conlon, D. E., Sarinopoulos, I., Davison, R. B., & McNamara, G. (2009). The biological bases of unfairness: Neuroimaging evidence for the distinctiveness of procedural and distributive justice. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 110, 140–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Eisenberg, N., & Fabes, R. A. (1990). Empathy: Conceptualization, measurement, and relation to prosocial behavior. Motivation and Emotion, 14, 131–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Fan, Y., Duncan, N. W., de Greck, M., & Northoff, G. (2011). Is there a core neural network in empathy? An fMRI based quantitative meta-analysis. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 35, 903–911.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Fanselow, M. S., & Gale, G. D. (2003). The amygdala, fear, and memory. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 985, 125–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Fassina, N. E., Jones, D. A., & Uggerslev, K. L. (2008). Meta-analytic tests of relationships between organizational justice and citizenship behavior: Testing agent-system and shared-variance models. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29, 805–828.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Fehr, E., & Fishbacher, U. (2004). Third party punishment and social norms. Evolution and Human Behavior, 25, 63–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Fehr, E., Fishbacher, U., & Gächter, S. (2002). Strong reciprocity, human cooperation and the enforcement of social norms. Human Nature, 13, 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Fehr, E., & Gächter, S. (2000). Cooperation and punishment in public goods experiments. American Economic Review, 90, 980–994.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Fehr, E., & Gächter, S. (2002). Altruistic punishment in humans. Nature, 415, 137–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Folger, R. (2001). Fairness as deonance. In S. W. Gilliland, D. D. Steiner, & D. P. Skarlicki (Eds.), Research in social issues in management: Theoretical and cultural perspectives on organizational justice (Vol. 1, pp. 3–31). Charlotte: Information Age.Google Scholar
  92. Folger, R. (2011). Deonanace: Behavioral ethics and moral obligation. In D. DeCremer & A. E. Tenbrunsel (Eds.), Series in organization and management: Behavioral business ethics: shaping an emerging field (pp. 123–142). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  93. Folger, R., & Butz, R. (2004). Relational models, “deonance”, and moral antipathy toward the powerfully unjust. In N. Haslam (Ed.), Relational models theory: A contemporary overview (pp. 217–242). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  94. Folger, R., & Cropanzano, R. (1998). Organizational justice and human resource management. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  95. Folger, R., & Cropanzano, R. (2001). Fairness theory: Justice as accountability. In J. Greenberg & R. Cropanzano (Eds.), Advances in organizational justice (pp. 1–55). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  96. Folger, R., Cropanzano, R., & Goldman, B. (2005). Justice, accountability, and moral sentiment: The deontic response to “foul play” at work. In J. Greenberg & J. Colquitt (Eds.), Handbook of organizational justice (pp. 215–245). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  97. Folger, R., Ganegoda, D. B., Rice, D. B., Taylor, R., & Wo, D. X. (2013). Bounded autonomy and behavioral ethics: Deonance and reactance as competing motives. Human Relations, 66, 905–924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Folger, R., & Glerum, D. R. (2015). Justice and deonance: “You ought to be fair”. In R. Cropanzano & M. A. Ambrose (Eds.), Oxford handbook of justice in work organizations (pp. 331–350). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  99. Folger, R., & Salvador, R. (2008). Is management theory too “self-ish”? Journal of Management, 34, 1127–1151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Fortin, M., & Fellenz, M. R. (2008). Hypocrisies of fairness: Towards a more reflexive ethical base in organizational justice research and practice. Journal of Business Ethics, 78, 415–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Fransson, P. (2005). Spontaneous low-frequency BOLD signal fluctuations: an fMRI investigation of the resting-state default mode of brain function hypothesis. Human Brain Mapping, 26, 15–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Friedrichs, D. O. (2010). Trusted criminals: White collar crime in contemporary society. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  103. Frith, C. D., & Singer, T. (2008). The role of social cognition in decision making. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 363, 3875–3886.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Fuster, J. M. (2001). The prefrontal cortex—An update: Time is of the essence. Neuron, 30, 319–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. Gazzaniga, M. S. (2008). Human: The science behind what makes us unique. New York: Ecco.Google Scholar
  106. Gillespie, J. Z., & Greenberg, J. (2005). Are the goals of organizational justice self-interested? In J. Greenberg & J. A. Colquitt (Eds.), Handbook of organizational justice (pp. 179–213). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  107. Goldman-Rakic, P. S. (1987). Circuitry of primate prefrontal cortex and regulation of behavior by representational memory. In F. Plum &V. B. Mountcastle (Eds.), Handbook of physiology: Section 1. The nervous system: Vol. 5. Higher functions of the brain (pp. 373–417). Bethesda, MD: American Physiological Society.Google Scholar
  108. Gray, J. R., Braver, T. S., & Raichle, M. E. (2002). Integration of emotion and cognition in the lateral prefrontal cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 99, 4115–4120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  109. Greenberg, J. (1990). Organizational justice: Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Journal of Management, 16, 399–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  110. Greenberg, J. (2001). Setting the justice agenda: Seven unanswered questions about “what, why, and how.”. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 58, 210–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  111. Greene, J. D. (2013). Moral tribes: Emotion, reason, and the gap between us and them. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  112. Greene, J. D., & Haidt, J. (2002). How (and where) does moral judgment work? Trends in Cognitive Science, 6, 517–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  113. Greene, J. D., Nystrom, L. E., Engell, A. D., Darley, J. M., & Cohen, J. D. (2004). The neural bases of cognitive conflict and control in moral judgment. Neuron, 44, 389–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  114. Greene, J. D., Sommerville, R. B., Nystrom, L. E., Darley, J. M., & Cohen, J. D. (2001). An fMRI investigation of emotional engagement in moral judgment. Science, 293, 2105–2108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  115. Haidt, J. (2003). The moral emotions. In R. J. Davidson, K. R. Scherer, & H. H. Goldsmith (Eds.), Handbook of affective sciences (pp. 852–870). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  116. Haidt, J. (2006). The happiness hypothesis: Finding modern trust in ancient wisdom. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  117. Haidt, J., & Joseph, C. (2007). The moral mind: How five sets of innate intuitions guide the development of many culture-specific virtues, and perhaps even modules. In P. Carruthers, S. Laurence, & S. Stich (Eds.), The innate mind (Vol. 3, pp. 367–392). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  118. Hamlin, J. K., & Wynn, K. (2011). Five- and 9-month olds prefer pro-social to antisocial others. Cognitive Development, 26, 30–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  119. Hamlin, J. K., Wynn, K., & Bloom, P. (2010). 3-month olds show a negativity bias in social evaluation. Developmental Science, 13, 923–939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  120. Haney, C., Banks, W. C., & Zimbardo, P. G. (1973). Study of prisoners and guards in a simulated prison. Naval Research Reviews, 9, 1–17.Google Scholar
  121. Hannah, S. T., Jennings, P. L., Bluhm, D., Peng, A. C., & Schaubroeck, J. M. (2014). Duty orientation: Theoretical development and preliminary construct testing. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 123, 220–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  122. Harmon-Jones, E., Gable, P. A., & Peterson, C. K. (2010). The role of asymmetric frontal cortical activity in emotion-related phenomena: A review and update. Biological Psychology, 84, 451–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  123. Hatfield, E., Walster, G. W., & Piliavvin, J. A. (1978). Equity theory and helping relationships. In L. Wispe (Ed.), Altruism, sympathy, and helping: Psychological and sociological perspectives (pp. 115–139). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  124. Hein, G., Silani, G., Preuschoff, K., Batson, C. D., & Singer, T. (2010). Neural responses to ingroup and outgroup members’ suffering predict individual differences in costly helping. Neuron, 68, 149–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  125. Hewitt, L. S. (1975). The effects of provocation, intentions and consequences on children’s moral judgments. Child Development, 46, 540–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  126. Hoffman, M. L. (1994). The contribution of empathy to justice and moral judgment. In B. Puka (Ed.), Reaching out: Caring, altruism, and prosocial behavior (Vol. 7, pp. 161–195). New York: Garland.Google Scholar
  127. Hoffman, M. L. (2000). Empathy and moral development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  128. Hogan, R. (1969). Development of an empathy scale. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 33, 307–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  129. Hollensbe, E. C., Khazanchi, S., & Masterson, S. S. (2008). How do I assess if my supervisor and organization are fair? Identifying the rules underlying the entity-based justice perceptions. Academy of Management Journal, 51, 1099–1116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  130. Jacobs, J., Hwang, G., Curran, T., & Kahana, M. J. (2006). EEG oscillations and recognition memory: theta correlates of memory retrieval and decision making. Neuroimage, 32, 978–987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  131. Judge, T. A., Scott, B. A., & Ilies, R. (2006). Hostility, job attitudes, and workplace deviance: Test of a multilevel model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 126–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  132. Karakas, F., & Sarigollu, E. (2013). The role of leadership in creating virtuous and compassionate organizations: Narratives of benevolent leadership in an Anatolian tiger. Journal of Business Ethics, 113(4), 663–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  133. Karniol, R. (1978). Children’s use of intention cues in evaluating behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 85, 76–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  134. Keysers, C. (2009). Mirror neurons. Current Biology, 19, R971–R973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  135. Kiehl, K. A. (2006). A cognitive neuroscience perspective on psychopathy: evidence for paralimbic system dysfunction. Psychiatry Research, 142, 107–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  136. Kilner, J. M., Neal, A., Weiskopf, N., Friston, K. J., & Frith, C. D. (2009). Evidence of mirror neurons in human inferior frontal gyrus. Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 10153–10159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  137. Knoch, D., Pascual-Leone, A., Meyer, K., Treyer, V., & Fehr, E. (2006). Diminishing reciprocal fairness by disrupting the right prefrontal cortex. Science, 314(5800), 829–832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  138. Knutson, B., & Greer, S. M. (2008). Anticipatory affect: neural correlates and consequences for choice. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 363, 3771–3786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  139. Knyazev, G. G., & Slobodskaya, H. R. (2003). Personality trait of behavioral inhibition is associated with oscillatory systems reciprocal relationships. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 48, 247–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  140. Koenigs, M., Young, L., Adolphs, R., Tranel, D., Cushman, F., Hauser, M., & Damasio, A. (2007). Damage to the prefrontal cortex increases utilitarian moral judgments. Nature, 446, 908–911.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  141. Kosfeld, M., Heinrichs, M., Zak, P. J., Fischbacher, U., & Fehr, E. (2005). Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature, 435(7042), 673–676.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  142. Krolak-Salmon, P., Henaff, M. A., Isnard, J., Tallon-Baudry, C., Guenot, M., Vighetto, A., et al. (2003). An attention modulated response to disgust in human ventral anterior insula. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 53, 446–453.Google Scholar
  143. Lamm, C., Batson, C. D., & Decety, J. (2007). The neural substrate of human empathy: effects of perspective-taking and cognitive appraisal. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 42–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  144. LaMonica, E. L., Carew, D. K., Winder, A. E., Haase, A. M. B., & Blanchard, K. (1976). Empathy training as a major thrust of a staff development program. Nursing Research, 25, 403–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  145. Lau, V., & Wong, Y. (2009). Direct and multiplicative effects of ethical dispositions and ethical climates on personal justice norms: A virtue ethics perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 90, 279–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  146. Lazarus, R. S. (1984). On the primacy of cognition. American Psychologist, 39, 124–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  147. Lee, S. M., Gao, T., & McCarthy, G. (2014). Attributing intentions to random motion engages the posterior superior temporal sulcus. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9, 81–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  148. Lerner, M. J., & Goldberg, J. H. (1999). When do decent people blame victims? In S. Chaiken & Y. Trope (Eds.), Dual process theories in social psychology (pp. 627–640). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  149. Leventhal, G. S. (1980). What should be done with equity theory?: New approaches to the study of fairness in social relationships. In K. J. Gergen, M. S. Greenberg, & R. H. Willis (Eds.), Social exchange: Advances in theory and practice (pp. 27–55). New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  150. Lind, E. A., & Tyler, T. R. (1988). The social psychology of procedural justice. New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  151. Ludwig, D. C., & Longenecker, C. O. (1993). The Bathsheba syndrome: The ethical failure of successful leaders. Journal of Business Ethics, 12, 265–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  152. Luo, Q., Nakic, M., Wheatley, T., Richell, R., Martin, A., & Blair, R. J. R. (2006). The neural basis of implicit moral attitude—an IAT study using event-related fMRI. Neuroimage, 30, 1449–1457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  153. Lyons, D. E., Santos, L. R., & Keil, F. C. (2006). Reflections of other minds: how primate social cognition can inform the function of mirror neurons. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 16, 230–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  154. Maddock, R. J., Garrett, A. S., & Bounocore, M. H. (2003). Posterior cingulate cortex activation by emotional words: fMRI evidence from a valance decision task. Human Brain Mapping, 18, 30–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  155. Majdandžić, J., Bauer, H., Windischberger, C., Moser, E., Engl, E., & Lamm, C. (2012). The human factor: Behavioral and neural correlates of humanized perception in moral decision making. PLoS ONE, 7, e47698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  156. Massaro, S. (2015). Neuroscientific Methods Applications in Strategic Management. In G. Dagnino & C. Cinci (Eds.), Strategic management: A research method handbook (pp. 253–282). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  157. Massaro, S., & Becker, W. J. (2015). Organizational Justice through the Window of Neuroscience. In D. A. Waldman, & P. A. Balthazar (Eds.), Organizational Neuroscience (Monographs in Leadership and Management, Volume 7) (pp. 257–276). Bradford, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  158. Masten, C. L., Morelli, S. A., & Eisenberger, N. I. (2011). An fMRI investigation of empathy for ‘social pain’ and subsequent prosocial behavior. Neuroimage, 55, 381–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  159. Mastrovito, D. (2013). Interactions between resting-state and task-evoked brain activity suggest a different approach to fMRI analysis. The Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 12912–12914.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  160. Mazoyer, B., Zago, L., Mellet, E., Bricogne, S., Etard, O., Houde, O., & Tzourio-Mazoyer, N. (2001). Cortical networks for working memory and executive functions sustain the conscious resting state in man. Brain Research Bulletin, 54, 287–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  161. Mesulam, M., & Mufson, E. J. (1982). Insula of the old world monkey. Architectonics in the insulo-orbito-temporal component of the paralimbic brain. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 212, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  162. Miller, E. K., & Cohen, J. D. (2001). An integrative theory of prefrontal cortex function. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 24, 167–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  163. Miller, D. T., & McCann, C. D. (1979). Children’s reactions to the perpetrators and victims of injustices. Child Development, 50, 861–868.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  164. Moll, J., & de Oliveira-Souza, R. (2007). Moral judgments, emotions and the utilitarian brain. Trends in cognitive sciences, 11, 319–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  165. Moll, J., de Oliveira-Souza, R., Bramati, I. E., & Grafman, J. (2002). Functional networks in emotional moral and nonmoral social judgments. Neuroimage, 16, 696–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  166. Moll, J., Zahn, R., de Oliveira-Souza, R., Krueger, F., & Grafman, J. (2005). The neural basis of human moral cognition. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 6, 799–809.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  167. Monin, P., Noorderhaven, N., Vaara, E., & Kroon, D. (2013). Giving sense to and making sense of justice in post-merger integration. Academy of Management Journal, 56, 256–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  168. Morrison, I., Lloyd, D., di Pellegrino, G., & Roberts, N. (2004). Vicarious responses to pain in anterior cingulate cortex: Is empathy a multisensory issue? Cognitive and Affective Behavioral Neuroscience, 4, 270–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  169. Nicklin, J. M., Greenbaum, R., McNail, L. A., Folger, R., & Williams, J. K. (2011). The importance of contextual variables when judging fairness: An examination of counterfactual thoughts and fairness theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 114, 127–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  170. Nucci, L. P., & Nucci, M. S. (1982). Children’s responses to moral and social-conventional transgressions in free-play settings. Child Development, 53, 1337–1342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  171. Nummenmaa, L., Hirvonen, J., Parkkola, R., & Hietanen, J. K. (2008). Is emotional contagion special? An fMRI study on neural systems for affective and cognitive empathy. Neuroimage, 43, 571–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  172. O’Reilly, J., & Aquino, K. (2011). A model of third parties’ morally motivated responses to mistreatment in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 36, 526–543.Google Scholar
  173. O’Reilly, J., Aquino, K., & Skarlicki, D. (2016). The lives of others: Third parties’ responses t others’ injustice. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101, 171–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  174. Ochsner, K. N., Ray, R. R., Hughes, B., McRae, K., Cooper, J. C., Weber, J., … & Gross, J. J. (2009). Bottom-up and top-down processes in emotion generation common and distinct neural mechanisms. Psychological Science, 20, 1322–1331.Google Scholar
  175. O’Shea, J., & Walsh, V. (2007). Transcranial magnetic stimulation. Current Biology, 17(6), R196–R199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  176. Patient, D. L., & Skarlicki, D. P. (2005). Why managers don’t always do the right thing when delivering bad news: The roles of empathy, self-esteem, and moral development in interactional fairness. In S. W. Gilliland, D. D. Steiner, D. P. Skarlicki, & K. van den Bos (Eds.), What motivates fairness in organizations?. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  177. Patient, D. L., & Skarlicki, D. P. (2010). Increasing interpersonal and informational justice when communicating negative news: The role of the manager’s empathic concern and moral development. Journal of Management, 36, 555–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  178. Pecukonis, E. V. (1990). A cognitive/affective empathy training program as a function of ego development. Adolescence, 25, 59–76.Google Scholar
  179. Pelphrey, K. A., Morris, J. P., & McCarthy, G. (2004). Grasping the intentions of others: The perceived intentionality of an action influences activity in the superior temporal sulcus during social perception. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 16, 1706–1716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  180. Pessoa, L. (2014). Précis of the cognitive-emotional brain. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 18, 1–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  181. Pfaff, D. W. (2007). The neuroscience of fair play: Why we (usually) follow the golden rule. New York: Dana Press.Google Scholar
  182. Pfurtscheller, G., & Da Silva, F. L. (1999). Event-related EEG/MEG synchronization and desynchronization: basic principles. Clinical Neurophysiology, 110, 1842–1857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  183. Phan, K. L., Wager, T., Taylor, S. F., & Liberzon, I. (2002). Functional neuroanatomy of emotion: a meta-analysis of emotion activation studies in PET and fMRI. Neuroimage, 16, 331–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  184. Phillips, R. G., & LeDoux, J. E. (1992). Differential contribution of amygdala and hippocampus to cued and contextual fear conditioning. Behavioral Neuroscience, 106, 274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  185. Preston, S. D., & De Waal, F. (2002). Empathy: Its ultimate and proximate bases. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 25, 1–20.Google Scholar
  186. Raichle, M. E., MacLeod, A. M., Snyder, A. Z., Powers, W. J., Gusnard, D. A., & Shulman, G. L. (2001). A default mode of brain function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 98, 676–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  187. Reb, J., Goldman, B. M., Kray, L. J., & Cropanzano, R. (2006). Different wrongs, different remedies? Reactions to organizational remedies after procedural and interactional injustice. Personnel Psychology, 59, 31–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  188. Riess, H., Kelly, J. M., Bailey, R. W., Dunn, E. J., & Phillips, M. (2012). Empathy training for resident physicians: A randomized controlled trail of a neuroscience-informed curriculum. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 27, 1280–1286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  189. Rizzolatti, G., & Craighero, L. (2004). The mirror-neuron system. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 27, 169–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  190. Robertson, D., Snarey, J., Ousley, O., Harenski, K., Bowman, F. D., Gilkey, R., & Kilts, C. (2007). The neural processing of moral sensitivity to issues of justice and care. Neuropsychologia, 45, 755–766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  191. Rolls, E. T. (1996). The orbitofrontal cortex. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, 351, 1433–1443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  192. Rolls, E. T., & Grabenhorst, F. (2008). The orbitofrontal cortex and beyond: from affect to decision-making. Progress in Neurobiology, 86, 216–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  193. Rupp, D. E., & Paddock, E. L. (2010). From justice events to justice climate: A multilevel temporal model of information aggregation and judgment. Research on Managing Group and Teams, 13, 239–267.Google Scholar
  194. Salvador, R., & Folger, R. G. (2009). Business ethics and the brain. Business Ethics Quarterly, 19, 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  195. Sanfey, A. G., Rilling, J. K., Aronson, J. A., Nystrom, L. E., & Cohen, J. D. (2003). The neural basis of economic decision-making in the ultimatum game. Science, 300, 1755–1758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  196. Saxe, R. (2006). Uniquely human social cognition. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 16, 235–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  197. Saxe, R., & Wexler, A. (2005). Making sense of another mind: The role of the right temporo-parietal junction. Neuropsychologia, 43, 1391–1399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  198. Saxe, R., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., Scholz, J., & Pelphrey, K. A. (2009). Brain Regions for Perceiving and Reasoning About Other People in School-Aged Children. Child Development, 80, 1197–1209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  199. Schnall, S., Benton, J., & Harvey, S. (2008). With a clean conscience: Cleanliness reduces the severity of moral judgments. Psychological Science, 19, 1219–1222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  200. Schnall, S., Haidt, J., Clore, G. L., & Jordan, A. H. (2009). Disgust as embodied moral judgment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 1096–1109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  201. Scott, B. A., Colquitt, J. A., & Paddock, E. L. (2008). An actor-focused model of justice rule adherence and violation: The role of managerial motives and discretion. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 756–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  202. Shamay-Tsoory, S. G. (2011). The neural bases for empathy. The Neuroscientist, 17, 18–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  203. Shamay-Tsoory, S. G., & Aharon-Peretz, J. (2007). Dissociable prefrontal networks for cognitive and affective theory of mind: A lesion study. Neuropsychologia, 45, 3054–3067.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  204. Shamay-Tsoory, S. G., Aharon-Peretz, J., & Perry, D. (2009). Two systems for empathy: a double dissociation between emotional and cognitive empathy in inferior frontal gyrus versus ventromedial prefrontal lesions. Brain, 132, 617–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  205. Shamay-Tsoory, S. G., Harari, H., Aharon-Peretz, J., & Levkovitz, Y. (2010). The role of the orbitofrontal cortex in affective theory of mind deficits in criminal offenders with psychopathic tendencies. Cortex, 46, 668–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  206. Shamay-Tsoory, S. G., Tomer, R., Berger, B. D., & Aharon-Peretz, J. (2003). Characterization of empathy deficits following prefrontal brain damage: the role of the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 15, 324–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  207. Shao, R., Aquino, K., & Freeman, D. (2008). Beyond moral reasoning: A review of moral identity research and its implications for business ethics. Business Ethics Quarterly, 18, 513–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  208. Shenhav, A., & Greene, J. D. (2010). Moral judgments recruit domain-general valuation mechanisms to integrate representations of probability and magnitude. Neuron, 67, 667–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  209. Shulman, G. L., Fiez, J. A., Corbetta, M., Buckner, R. L., Miezin, F. M., Raichle, M. E., & Petersen, S. E. (1997). Common blood flow changes across visual tasks: II. Decreases in cerebral cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 9, 648–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  210. Singer, T. (2006). The neuronal basis and ontogeny of empathy and mind reading: Review of literature and implications for future research. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 30, 855–863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  211. Singer, T., & Lamm, C. (2009). The social neuroscience of empathy. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1156, 81–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  212. Singer, T., Seymour, B., O’Doherty, J., Kaube, H., Dolan, R. J., & Frith, C. D. (2004). Empathy for pain involves the affective but not sensory components of pain. Science, 303, 1157–1162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  213. Singer, T., Seymour, B., O’Doherty, J. P., Stephan, K. E., Dolan, R. J., & Frith, C. D. (2006). Empathic neural responses are modulated by the perceived fairness of others. Nature, 439, 466–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  214. Skarlicki, D. P., Ellard, J. H., & Kelln, B. R. C. (1998). Third party perceptions of a layoff: Procedural, derogation, and retributive aspects of justice. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 119–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  215. Skarlicki, D. P., & Folger, R. (2004). Broadening our understanding of organizational retaliatory behaviors. In R. W. Griffin & A. M. O’Leary-Kelly (Eds.), The dark side of organizational behavior (pp. 373–402). New York: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  216. Skarlicki, D. P., Hoegg, J., Aguino, K., & Nadisic, T. (2013). Does injustice affect your taste and smell? The mediating role of moral disgust. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 852–859.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  217. Skarlicki, D. P., & Kulik, C. (2005). Third party reactions to employee mistreatment: A justice perspective. In B. Staw & R. Kramer (Eds.), Research in organizational behavior (Vol. 26, pp. 183–230). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  218. Skarlicki, D. P., O’Reilly, J., & Kulik, C. T. (2015). The third party perspective on (in)justice. In R. Cropanzano & M. A. Ambrose (Eds.), Oxford handbook of justice in work organizations (pp. 235–255). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  219. Skarlicki, D. P., & Rupp, D. E. (2010). Dual processing and organizational justice: The role of rational versus experiential processing in third-party reactions to workplace mistreatment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95, 944–952.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  220. Skarlicki, D. P., van Jaarsveld, D. D., & Walker, D. D. (2008). Getting even for customer mistreatment: The role of moral identity in the relationship between customer interpersonal justice and employee sabotage. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 1335–1347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  221. Smetana, J. G. (1981). Preschool children’s conceptions of moral and social rules. Child Development, 52, 1333–1336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  222. Smetana, J. G. (1984). Toddlers’ social interactions regarding moral and conventional transgressions. Child Development, 55, 1767–1776.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  223. Smetana, J. G. (1985). Preschool children’s conceptions of transgressions: The effects of varying moral and conventional domain-related attributes. Developmental Psychology, 21, 18–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  224. Smetana, J. G. (1989). Toddlers’ social interactions in the context of moral and conventional transgressions in the home. Developmental Psychology, 25, 499–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  225. Smetana, J. G., Schlagman, N., & Adams, P. W. (1993). Preschool children’s judgments about hypothetical and actual transgressions. Child Development, 64, 202–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  226. Stikic, M., Berka, C., Waldman, D., Balthazard, P., Pless, N., & Maak, T. (2013). Neurophysiological estimation of team psychological metrics. In Foundations of augmented cognition (pp. 209–218). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  227. Suhler, C. L., & Churchland, P. (2011). Can innate, modular “foundations” explain morality? Challenges for Haidt's moral foundations theory. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23, 2103–2116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  228. Tancredi, L. (2005). Hardwired behavior: What neuroscience reveals about morality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  229. Terwogt, M. M., & Rieffe, C. (2003). Stereotyped beliefs about desirability: implications for characterizing the child’s theory of mind. New Ideas in Psychology, 21, 69–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  230. Thomson, J. J. (1986). Rights, restitution and risk (pp. 94–116). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  231. Turillo, C. J., Folger, R., Lavelle, J. J., Umphress, E., & Gee, J. (2002). Is virtue its own reward? Self-sacrificial decisions for the sake of fairness. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 89, 839–865.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  232. Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1986). Rational choice and the framing of decisions. Journal of business, 59, S251–S278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  233. Tyler, T. R. (1997). The psychology of legitimacy: A relational perspective on voluntary deference to authorities. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 1, 323–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  234. Tyler, T. R. (2006). Why people open the law. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  235. Tyler, T. R., & Blader, S. (2000). Cooperation in groups: Procedural justice, social identity, and behavioral engagement. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  236. Tyler, T. R., Boeckmann, R. J., Smith, H. J., & Huo, Y. J. (1997). Social justice in a diverse society. Boulder, CO: Westview.Google Scholar
  237. Uddin, L. Q., Clare Kelly, A. M., Biswal, B. B., Xavier Castellanos, F., & Milham, M. P. (2009). Functional connectivity of default mode network components: correlation, anticorrelation, and causality. Human Brain Mapping, 30, 625–637.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  238. Umphress, E. E., Campbell, J. T., & Bingham, J. B. (2010). Paved with good intentions: Unethical behavior conducted to benefit the organization, coworkers, and customers. In M. Schminke (Ed.), Managerial ethics: Managing the psychology of morality (pp. 127–152). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  239. Umpress, E. E., Simmons, A. L., Folger, R., Ren, R., & Bobocel, R. (2013). Observer reactions to interpersonal injustice: The role of perpetrator intent and victim perception. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34, 327–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  240. Van Overwalle, F., & Baetens, K. (2009). Understanding others’ actions and goals by mirror and mentalizing systems: a meta-analysis. Neuroimage, 48, 564–584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  241. Walter, H. (2012). Social cognitive neuroscience of empathy: Concepts, circuits, and genes. Emotion Review, 4, 9–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  242. Wicker, B., Keysers, C., Plailly, J., Royet, J.-P., Gallese, V., & Rizzolatti, G. (2003). Both of us disgusted in my insula: The common neural basis of seeing and feeling disgust. Neuron, 40, 654–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  243. Wispé, L. (1986). The distinction between sympathy and empathy: To call forth a concept, a word is needed. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 314–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  244. Yoder, K. J., & Decety, J. (2014). The Good, the Bad, and the Just: Justice Sensitivity Predicts Neural Response during Moral Evaluation of Actions Performed by Others. Journal of Neuroscience, 34, 4161–4166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  245. Young, L., Cushman, F., Hauser, M., & Saxe, R. (2007). The neural basis of the interaction between theory of mind and moral judgment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 8235–8240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  246. Zajonc, R. B. (1984). On the primacy of affect. American Psychologist, 39, 117–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  247. Zaki, J., & Ochsner, E. (2012). The neuroscience of empathy: Progress, pitfalls, and promise. Nature Neuroscience, 15, 675–680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  248. Zhan, R., de Olivera-Souza, R., & Moll, J. J. (2013). Moral Emotions. In J. Armony & P. Vuilleumier (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of human affective neuroscience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Russell S. Cropanzano
    • 1
  • Sebastiano Massaro
    • 2
    Email author
  • William J. Becker
    • 3
  1. 1.Leeds School of BusinessUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Warwick Business School - Behavioural ScienceUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  3. 3.Department of ManagementTexas Christian UniversityFt. WorthUSA

Personalised recommendations