The equality rule is an important coordination rule in symmetric public good dilemmas. Although prior research emphasized that people use the equality rule out of efficiency concerns (as it helps to obtain the public good in the most efficient manner among group members), it may also reflect a true preference for fairness. More precisely, research examining emotional and retributive reactions as a result of a violation of the equality rule by a fellow group member showed that equality indeed is related to people’s personal values and what they consider to be fair. The present paper suggests that a violation of the equality rule results in emotional reactions, and these emotional experiences encourage further retributive actions. The different reactions following an equality violation are described as a function of three features: (1) the motives to use equality, (2) attributions for explaining the violation, and (3) the honesty of the given explanation.

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Keywords distributive justice, emotions, equality, retribution, social dilemmas
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Series ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Journal Social Justice Research
Stouten, J, de Cremer, D, & van Dijk, E. (2007). Managing equality in social dilemmas: Emotional and retributive implications. Social Justice Research, 20(1), 53–67. doi:10.1007/s11211-007-0032-1