Social Indicators Research

, Volume 136, Issue 2, pp 663–692 | Cite as

Measuring Attitudes Toward Distributive Justice: The Basic Social Justice Orientations Scale

  • Sebastian HülleEmail author
  • Stefan Liebig
  • Meike Janina May


Previous research on social inequalities relied primarily on objective indicators. According to recent studies, however, subjective indicators that reflect a person’s perceptions and evaluations of inequalities are also relevant. Such evaluations depend on an individual’s normative orientation, so respective attitudes toward distributive justice need to be accounted for appropriately. This article introduces a short scale for measuring such order-related justice attitudes. The introduced Basic Social Justice Orientations (BSJO) scale comprises current insights into the empirical justice research and measures individuals’ attitudes toward the following four basic distributive principles: equality, need, equity, and entitlement. The BSJO scale has four dimensions that measure support for these four justice principles on the basis of eight items. We assess the quality of the scale using data from three general population surveys conducted in Germany: the first wave of the panel “Legitimation of Inequality Over the Life Span” (LINOS-1), the Innovation Sample of the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP-IS 2012), and the German General Social Survey (ALLBUS 2014). The scale was found to be a valid instrument that can be used to measure order-related justice attitudes toward distributive justice. The BSJO scale is a short and therefore time-efficient instrument that can be implemented in general population surveys.


Social justice Justice attitudes Distributive justice Justice ideologies Attitude measurement Survey research 



The authors received funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG) for their Subproject A6 “The Legitimation of Inequalities—Structural Conditions of Justice Attitudes over the Life-span” of the DFG Research Center (SFB) 882 “From Heterogeneities to Inequalities”.

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of SociologyUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany

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