Procedural justice effects on self-esteem under certainty versus uncertainty emotions

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Abstract

Building upon the idea that procedural justice effects are more pronounced when uncertainty is high, we proposed that recall of an uncertainty-eliciting emotion (fear) will render people more responsive to variations in procedural justice than will recall of a certainty-eliciting emotion (disgust). Results from Study 1, (n = 79 undergraduate students) confirmed that a fair procedure (voice condition) enhanced self-esteem relative to an unfair procedure (no voice condition) to a greater extent when people recalled fear than when they recalled disgust. Results from Study 2 (n = 147 undergraduate students) also showed that a fair, relative to an unfair, procedure enhanced self-esteem more strongly when recalling the emotion of fear rather than disgust, but only when these emotions were recalled from a self-immersed than a self-distanced perspective. These findings confirm that discrete emotions that orient people to interpret situations in uncertain versus certain ways are important antecedents of procedural justice effects.

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