Social Justice Research

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 23–40 | Cite as

Recalling an Unfair Experience Reduces Adolescents’ Dishonest Behavioral Intentions: The Mediating Role of Justice Sensitivity

  • Ilaria Giovannelli
  • Maria Giuseppina Pacilli
  • Stefano Pagliaro
  • Carlo Tomasetto
  • Manuela Barreto


Injustice experiences are likely to have a strong impact on—adolescents' life. However, individuals differ in how they perceive and respond to injustice depending on their justice sensitivity. Whereas several studies analyzed the relationships between justice sensitivity and antisocial behaviors in adult samples, little is known about this relationship among adolescents. The aim of the present experimental study is to expand knowledge on the antecedents and effects of justice sensitivity from the Victim (i.e., JS-Victim) and Others (i.e., JS-Observer, Perpetrator, and Beneficiary) perspective, particularly with regard to its relationship to willingness to act in dishonest behavioral intentions (e.g., stealing money or objects from classmates, teachers, or strangers). The study involved 369 Italian students (52% males; M age = 16.64, SD = 1.78). We examined the role of justice sensitivity in the relationship between the recall of unfair, fair, or neutral episodes, and the consequent willingness to perform dishonest behaviors. Results demonstrate that recalling unfair (vs. fair or neutral) episodes leads to an increase in JS-Others, which in turn decreased willingness to behave dishonestly. Conversely, JS-Victim did not mediate the relationship between the recall of unfair episodes and intentions to behave dishonestly. The present findings suggest that during adolescence JS-Others might act as a protective factor against dishonest behaviors.


Injustice-related experiences Justice sensitivity Dishonest behavioral intentions Adolescent 



This study was made possible due a FIRB 2012 grant from the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR; Grant Number RBFR128CR6).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional committee (Ethical Committee of the University of Perugia) and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Scienze PoliticheUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  2. 2.University of ChietiChietiItaly
  3. 3.University of BolognaCesena (FC)Italy
  4. 4.University of ExeterExeterUK

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