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Do those who allocate resources know how much fairness will matter to those who receive them? Across seven studies, allocators used either a fair or unfair procedure to determine which of two receivers would receive the most money. Allocators consistently overestimated the impact that the fairness of the allocation procedure would have on the happiness of receivers (Studies 1-3). This happened because the differential fairness of allocation procedures is more salient before an allocation is made than it is afterwards (Studies 4 and 5). Contrary to allocators’ predictions, the average receiver was happier when allocated more money by an unfair procedure than when allocated less money by a fair procedure (Studies 6 and 7). These studies suggest that when allocators are unable to overcome their own pre-allocation perspectives and adopt the receivers’ post-allocation perspectives, they may allocate resources in ways that do not maximize the net happiness of receivers.
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