Justice As a Precondition for Cooperation in Modern Societies

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Stefan LIEBIG, German Institute for Economic Research, Germany
Meike MAY, Okanagan College, Canada
Within evolutionary psychology human’s sense of justice plays a key role in the explanation of cooperative behavior. Justice – i.e. norms of justice - is seen as a means to identify situations of exploitation and to avoid losses in cooperative relationships. This paper aims to test these assumptions. First, we suppose that individuals bound in close cooperative relationships at the workplace will view justice as more important. Second, we assume that individuals react on perceived injustice with a termination of cooperation, i.e. they will be less motivated to obey to formal and informal norms at the workplace. We test these hypotheses using survey data from a representative dataset of the German workforce (LINOS-1 doi:10.4119/unibi/sfb882.2014.9, N=3.565). We use subjective measures of perceived procedural and interactional justice as well as norm following behavior at the workplace, and apply structural equation modeling. The results support our hypotheses: Employees who work in highly cooperative environments value justice more than employees in less cooperative workplaces, and employees who perceive injustice at their workplace trust their employers less and report less motivation for work-related efforts. We also test if there are any spill-over effects from injustice experiences at the workplace and find that those who perceive more injustice at the workplace show also less trust in societal institutions and comply less towards social norms. Our study adds to the research from empirical justice research that justice is a precondition of cooperation on different societal levels.