Retaliation as a Response to Procedural Unfairness: A Self-Regulatory Approach

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Abstract

When does procedural unfairness result in retaliation, and why do recipients of unfair treatment sometimes pursue and other times inhibit retaliation? Five studies addressed these questions. The authors proposed and found that regulatory focus moderates retaliation against an unfairness-enacting authority: Promotion-focus participants were more likely to retaliate than prevention-focus participants. Promotion focus was associated with, and also heightened the accessibility of, the individual self. In turn, individual-self accessibility influenced retaliation. In fact, prevention-focus participants were as retaliatory as promotion-focus participants under conditions of high individual-self accessibility. Implications for the procedural fairness and regulatory focus literatures are discussed, and suggestions for future research are offered.

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