Authority fairness for all? Intergroup status and expectations of procedural justice and resource distribution

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Description: Authorities such as the police and the government play a vital function in maintaining order in the social systems that groups exist in. Relational models of procedural justice (PJ) state that fair treatment from authority affirms the social standing of those identifying with the authority, communicating inclusion and respect. Previous research suggests that social identity may also inform expectations of authority fairness. Focusing on intergroup context of authority decision-making, the present research tests a novel hypothesis whether intergroup social status may also inform expectations of authority fairness in terms of fair treatment and favourable outcomes. Operationalising PJ as the extent to which people are provided voice by authorities, three experimental studies showed no effect of intergroup status on expected PJ from authority. A sample weighed internal meta-analysis (N = 704) provided no support for the hypothesis that relative outgroup status shapes expectations of voice from authority (d = -.02). Intergroup status did, however, influence the extent to which people expected authorities to distribute resources favourably towards the outgroups. Lower status outgroups were expected to receive less favourable outcomes from authorities than equal status outgroups (d = -.23). Thus, outgroup status affects people’s judgements of the resources that outgroups deserve from authority. The present research is among the first to consider how intergroup relations may drive expectations of how authorities are to act towards other social groups. Implications for wielding authority and the role of perceived intergroup threat in intergroup settings are discussed.

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