Work performance and wages: Distributive justice and emotional reactions
Abstract: People often encounter situations where they evaluate outcomes that they and other persons receive. Part of this evaluation concerns how fair the distribution is. Whether people are treated fairly or unfairly give rise to different emotional reactions. In Study I work performance in relation to outcome in fair or unfair distributions (i.e., distributive justice) and discrete emotional reactions was examined. In the first study participants read one of five possible work-related vignettes after which they rated emotions toward their boss, a co-worker and self. Variations in the vignettes were made with regard to own performance compared to the co-worker’s performance and own outcome in comparison with the co-worker’s outcome (i.e., salary). The results showed that participants in the most positive and fair situations reported happiness-related emotions toward oneself. In contrast, in the most negative and unfair situation participants reported sadness-related emotions toward oneself, envy toward the co-worker and anger-related emotions toward the boss. Besides considerations about justice, different aspects of culture have consequences for everyday life (Fiske, 2002). In Study II it was examined if discrete emotional reactions to work performance in relation to outcome in fair or unfair distributions were regulated differently in different cultural settings. In the second study participants read one of two possible work-related vignettes after which they rated emotions toward their boss, a co-worker and self. In line with Fiske (1992), emotions were regulated differently by participants in Indonesia (with authority ranking likely to be the predominant relational model) than in Sweden (with market pricing being the predominant model). Emotions which can be directed outward (as anger and envy) and have negative consequences in a relation were avoided by participants from Java in Indonesia. In contrast, emotions that can be directed inwards (as shame and uneasiness) and have negative consequences on the self, but not the relation, were experienced to a higher degree by the participants from Java in comparison with their Swedish counterparts.
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