Appearances do count:  The effects of outcomes and explanations on disputant fairness judgments and supervisory evaluations. 

By Donald E. Conlon and William H. Ross

The International Journal of Conflict Management, 8, (No. 1, January, 1997), pp. 5-31.


In a simulated three-issue organizational dispute, subjects were interrupted by a third party (their supervisor) who recommended -- and eventually imposed -- one of five different outcomes.  Each outcome provided subjects with the same overall payoff, though the arrangement of payoffs across each of the three issues varied.  The design allowed us to evaluate four different perspectives regarding negotiators' perceptions of their outcomes.  In addition, third parties provided justifications, apologies, or excuses for their actions.  Fairness judgments and supervisory evaluations were most favorable when negotiators received an outcome reflecting favorable settlements on the majority of the issues, or the midpoint compromise; the least favorable reactions occurred when subjects received favorable outcomes on only their most important issue.  Third parties who offered a justification for their actions were seen as fairer than those offering apologies or excuses.  The findings reiterate the importance of considering both the symbolic characteristics of outcomes and the interactional justice inherent in different types of explanations.


Abstract and cover image Copyright (c) 1997 by the International Journal of Conflict Management and the journal's current owners.