Factors affecting the evaluation of improvement: The role of normative standards and allocator resources

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In a simulated industrial setting, 108 undergraduates performed a clerical task while believing that their pay was being determined by a (fictitious) peer allocator. After being treated inequitably, Ss were able to request a (fictitious) 3rd party to review these allocations. The 3rd party established 1 of 2 “normative” standards to govern a 2nd series of allocations: either “fairness from now on” or “fairness now, plus compensation for the initial discrimination.” Ss subsequently received increased outcomes that matched one or the other of these standards. Concurrently, the resources available to the allocator either remained constant, increased, or decreased. Results indicate dissatisfaction despite the improvement in outcome level when the increase was felt to be inadequate relative to a normative standard and to the “social” standard formed by the allocator's own outcomes. Related hypotheses based on a relative deprivation interpretation of discontent with improvement are presented. (18 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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