Justice in Performance Situations: Compromise Between Equity and Equality

  • Hans-Werner Bierhoff
  • Elke Rohmann


Fairness gives social relationships structure and meaning. Individuals attach crucial importance to the perceived fairness of relationship partners which serves as a signal as to whether the relationship is viable or not. At the same time, fairness issues are sometimes controversial. For example, how do contradictory fairness rules influence reward allocation? Such contradictions of rules constitute a problem both in philosophical treatments of moral action and in the social psychology of fairness. In the context of performance, the application of one of two fairness rules appears reasonable: equity and equality. Either the allocators focus on only one of these normative rules or they attempt to generate a compromise between both rules. The reward expectation hypothesis which is part of expectation states theory offers a solution to this problem: It delineates a formula which allows an estimation of the impact of equity and equality for a given reward allocation among a known number of group members whose relative performances are quantified. The use of the formula is explained on the basis of empirical data obtained in a scenario study in which the performances of group members were depicted as unequal. Results indicate that the formula generates valid estimates of weights which represent the relative impact of equity and equality on reward allocation. In addition, the reward expectation hypothesis offers a new interpretation of the reconstruction of performance distributions on the basis of a known reward distribution.


Distributive Justice Equity Norm Relationship Partner Equality Rule Performance Distribution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social PsychologyRuhr-University BochumBochumGermany

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