ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (8): 958-968.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00958

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    



  1. 1 华东师范大学心理与认知科学学院, 上海200062
    2 西南大学心理学部, 重庆400715
  • 收稿日期:2019-01-01 出版日期:2019-08-25 发布日期:2019-06-24
  • 基金资助:
    * 国家社会科学基金重大项目(15ZDB121);教育部人文社会科学项目(18YJC190015)

Fairness or benefit? The effect of power on distributive fairness

SUN Qian1,LONG Changquan2,WANG Xiuxin1,LIU Yongfang1()   

  1. 1 School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062
    2 Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715
  • Received:2019-01-01 Online:2019-08-25 Published:2019-06-24


通过3个实验逐步考察了高、低权力个体对三种分配方案(公平/劣势不公平/优势不公平)的公平感。结果发现:(1)被试的公平评级从高到低依次为公平、优势不公平、劣势不公平, 做出评级的反应时则从快到慢依次为公平、劣势不公平、优势不公平; (2)相对于低权力被试, 高权力被试对劣势不公平分配的公平评级更低, 而对公平分配和优势不公平分配的公平评级更高, 且做出公平判断的反应时更短。基于这些结果, 作者提出了公平与利益权衡的公平优先效应及权力的自我增强假设, 以更好地理解权力和公平的本质及二者的关系。

关键词: 公平, 利益, 权力, 分配公平, 公平感


Distributive fairness is a basic behavioral norm and an important pursuit in our daily life, and it plays an important role in our social interactions. In studies of distributive fairness, individuals' fairness perception and the factors affecting it have gathered much research attention. Previous research shows that the degree of fairness allocation can affect individuals' fairness perception. Based on the equity theory of fairness, equal allocation can be perceived as fairness for individuals if they have equal ability and equal contribution to the allocation; less than equal allocation may be perceived as disadvantageous inequality, and more than equal allocation as advantageous inequality. Previous studies also suggest that social situations, such as social hierarchy and social distance, can affect individuals' fairness perception. In real life, resource allocation often involves power situations, in which individuals may have different levels of power. How power influence individuals' fairness perception? Is the fairness perception power-dependent? So far, few studies have explored the effect of power on fairness perception directly. The present study aims to address this question through three experiments.

Based on the approach-inhibition theory, the powerful usually expect themselves to be surrounded by rewards and lack of threats, while the powerless usually expect themselves to be surrounded by threats and lack of rewards. Previous research shows that individuals' cognition and behavior can be affected by their internal expectations, and they are often sensitive to outcomes that violate their own expectations. Equal allocation and advantageous inequality allocation mean reward, while disadvantageous inequality means threat. Thus, equal allocation and advantageous inequality allocation are the expectation of the powerful, and disadvantageous inequality allocation is the expectation of the powerless. Therefore, we hypothesize that the interaction between power and fairness degree can impact individuals' fairness perception.

Three experiments were designed to test the hypothesis. To provide objective basis for the definitions of fairness, disadvantage inequality, and advantage inequality, we measured individuals' fairness ratings on different allocations in both the powerful and the powerless situations, after situation priming that manipulated power perception, in Experiment 1. In Experiment 2, we further investigated individuals' fairness ratings on three different allocations (i.e., disadvantageous unequal allocation, equal allocation, advantageous unequal allocation) in both the powerful and the powerless situations. We also recorded individuals' reaction times of fairness rating in Experiment 2 to gather extra evidence for fairness perception. In Experiment 3, a different manipulation method, role playing, was used to prime power. Same as in Experiment 2, we also recorded the fairness ratings and reaction times of the powerful and the powerless in Experiment 3.

In terms of fairness rating scores, the powerful rated the fairness degree of equal allocation and advantageous unequal allocation higher than the powerless, and they rated the fairness degree of disadvantageous unequal allocation lower than the powerless. In reaction time, the powerful reacted faster than the powerless no matter what the allocation was. These results suggested that individuals' distributive fairness perception is power-dependent, supporting our hypothesis. The present findings provide experimental evidence for the approach-inhibition theory of power and the equity theory of fairness. They also improve our understanding of the relationship between power and fairness perception.

Key words: fairness, benefit, power, distributive fairness, fairness perception