The present research aims to elucidate to what extent the motive to ensure equality in outcomes is general and to what extent it interacts with other important motives such as maximizing own or collective gains. Because individuals may have different considerations and motivations in decision-making situations, it is likely that people with a different social value orientation will respond differently to an unequal distribution of outcomes. Contrary to expectations, not only prosocials care about equality in outcomes. In Study 1, the authors found that individualists choose to forego personal gains, despite obvious selfish reasons to cooperate, when outcomes were distributed unequally. In a second experiment, this finding was replicated and shows that individualists, just as prosocials, demand equality in outcomes in interdependent situations. The studies suggest that typifying individualists as solely being concerned about enhancing personal outcomes is too limited and that fairness norms may trump social value orientation.

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ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

van den Bergh, B., Dewitte, S., & de Cremer, D. (2006). Are prosocials unique in their egalitarianism? The pursuit of equality in outcomes among individualists. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(9), 1219–1231. doi:10.1177/0146167206289346