Hungry for Respect: The Moderating Roles of Status and Justice Orientation on Relationships between Interpersonal Justice and Emotions



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Affective reactions to unfair treatment date back to the earliest work on organizational justice. Seminal research on inequity identifies anger and guilt as primary responses to judgments of low justice. More recently, interpersonal justice has been linked to emotions such as anger and hostility. In fact, interpersonal justice is arguably the most emotionally charged of all the justice types. Yet, despite the strong theoretical support and empirical evidence linking interpersonal justice to negative emotions, we are unsure whether dignity and respect from a supervisor may also influence positive emotions.

Justice scholars have also begun to investigate the moderating influence of status on to the effects of interpersonal justice. It has been suggested, and empirically demonstrated, that people of lower objective status (hierarchical position, race) react more strongly to fairness relative to those higher in status. However, we do not yet know how the effects of interpersonal justice may be moderated by employees? perceptions of personal status, workgroup status, or supervisor status. Furthermore, scholars have yet to examine the moderating influence of status on emotional reactions to interpersonal justice.

In this dissertation, I answer recent calls for further investigation into the relationships between interpersonal justice and emotions and between interpersonal justice and status. Specifically, I draw from affective events theory and self-enhancement theory to develop a model of interpersonal justice, status, and emotions. In this model, I hypothesize a mediating effect of emotions on the relationships between interpersonal justice and a number of distal attitudes and behaviors. I further predict a moderating influence of justice orientation and three types of status?personal (self) status, workgroup status, and supervisor status?on the interpersonal justice to emotions relationships. A sample of 427 university-based military cadets provided partial support for my model. As expected, interpersonal justice predicted a number of important distal outcomes indirectly through both positive and negative emotions. Personal status, supervisor status, and justice orientation moderated several of the relationships between interpersonal justice and emotions. Implications for practice and theory are discussed.