Role Differences in the Perception of Injustice
Gosse, Leanne L.
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The current dissertation examined role differences in the perception of injustice; specifically, differences in how victims and offenders respond to a situation that they both agree is unfair. Past research has demonstrated that role affects reactions to transgressions and injustice, including recall of transgressions, and attributions of blame and responsibility (e.g., Baumeister, Stillwell, & Wotman, 1990; Mikula, Athenstaedt, Heschgl, & Heimgartner, 1998). However, to date, little work has examined role differences in perceptions of why an event is perceived as unfair (i.e., how an injustice is framed) or how justice should be restored. These were the perceptions I focused on in the present thesis. I also examined potential concerns that may motivate victims' and offenders' justice reactions, as well as the potential interaction between role and relationship quality in predicting justice reactions. In Studies 1 and 2, several of the predicted role differences in concerns were found; however, these did not lead to the expected differences in framing and restoration. In Study 1, using a vignette methodology, I found differences primarily in how victims and offenders believed justice should be restored. Overall, the significant role effects showed an accommodating response pattern (e.g., offenders proposed punishment more than did victims and neutral observers, whereas victims recommended minimal compensation more than did offenders and neutral observers), inconsistent with previous research and my hypotheses. Study 2, which employed a sample of romantic couples, substantiated the accommodating pattern found in Study 1. Study 3, which sampled a broader range of relationships, also showed i \ examples of accommodating reactions. In addition, Study 3 provided some support for the hypothesized interaction between role and relationship quality, such that responses were more accommodating as relationship quality increased. For example, offenders more strongly endorsed methods of restoration such as offender apology and recognition of the relationship with increasing relationship quality. Overall, the results from this dissertation support the general notion that victims and offenders respond to injustice differently, and, in-line with previous research on other justice-related responses (e.g., Mikula et at, 1998), suggest that victims and offenders show an other-serving, accommodating tendency in justice reactions when relationship quality is high.