Journal Article | Journal of Applied Social Psychology | 2009

The Performer's Reactions to Procedural Injustice: When Prosocial Identity Reduces Prosocial Behavior

by Adam M. Grant, Andrew Molinsky, Joshua D. Margolis, Melissa Kamin and William Schiano

Abstract

Considerable research has examined how procedural injustice affects victims and witnesses of unfavorable outcomes, with little attention to the “performers” who deliver these outcomes. Drawing on dissonance theory, we hypothesized that performers' reactions to procedural injustice in delivering unfavorable outcomes are moderated by prosocial identity—a helping-focused self-concept. Across two experiments, individuals communicated unfavorable outcomes decided by a superior. Consistent with justice research, when prosocial identities were not primed, performers experienced greater negative affect and behaved more prosocially toward victims when a superior's decision-making procedures were unjust. Subtly activating performers' prosocial identities reversed these reactions. Results highlight how roles and identities shape the experience and delivery of unfavorable outcomes; when procedures are unjust, prosocial identity can reduce prosocial behavior.

Keywords: Interpersonal Communication; Judgments; Fairness; Outcome or Result; Behavior; Identity; Power and Influence;

Citation:

Grant, Adam M., Andrew Molinsky, Joshua D. Margolis, Melissa Kamin, and William Schiano. "The Performer's Reactions to Procedural Injustice: When Prosocial Identity Reduces Prosocial Behavior." Journal of Applied Social Psychology 39, no. 2 (2009): 319–349.