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Reactions to others' mistakes: an empirical test of fairness theory.

Authors
  • Williams, Kevin J
  • Nicklin, Jessica M
Type
Published Article
Journal
The Journal of psychology
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2009
Volume
143
Issue
5
Pages
533–558
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3200/JRL.143.5.533-558
PMID: 19943403
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Drawing on fairness theory (R. Folger & R. Cropanzano, 1998, 2001), the authors examined undergraduates' reactions to advisor mistakes made in an academic advisement scenario. The authors hypothesized that perceived fairness, blame, and behavioral intentions to address wrongdoing would be influenced by outcome severity and the nature of the mistake (knowledgeable mistakes vs. ignorant mistakes; errors of commission vs. errors of omission). Results partially supported the hypotheses. Participants perceived scenarios as less fair and expressed higher intent to address the wrongdoing when the consequences were high in severity and when a knowledgeable person made the mistake. Participants attributed significantly more blame to the advisor in the high severity outcome conditions. Counterfactual thoughts mediated the effects of target knowledge but not outcome severity. The authors discuss theoretical and practical implications.

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