Social Justice Research

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 25–42

When Citizens Fight Back: Justice Sensitivity and Resistance to Political Reform

  • Eva Traut-Mattausch
  • Stephanie Guter
  • Mark P. Zanna
  • Eva Jonas
  • Dieter Frey
Article

Abstract

A considerable number of individuals show resistance to reform, whereas others, although similarly affected, do not react in a resistant way at all. Based on research showing that people differ concerning how sensitive they are toward being a victim of injustice (victim justice sensitivity), we argued that people high in victim justice sensitivity perceive a reform more as an illegitimate limitation to their freedom resulting in more reactance. Consequently, people high in victim justice sensitivity should show more resistance to reform. We conducted three studies to test these assumptions. Our studies revealed that physicians (healthcare reform, Study 1) and students (introduction of tuition fees, Studies 2 and 3) with higher victim justice sensitivity experienced more reactance and thus showed more resistance to reform. The implications of these results for the implementation of political reforms are discussed.

Keywords

Justice sensitivity Resistance to reform Reactance Victim Beneficiary 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva Traut-Mattausch
    • 1
  • Stephanie Guter
    • 2
  • Mark P. Zanna
    • 3
  • Eva Jonas
    • 1
  • Dieter Frey
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SalzburgSalzburgAustria
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MunichMunichGermany
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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