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Reconsidering the Role of Procedures for Decision Acceptance

Abstract

Procedural fairness theory posits that the way in which authoritative decisions are made strongly impacts people’s willingness to accept them. This article challenges this claim by contending that democratic governments can achieve little in terms of acceptance of policy decisions by the procedural means at their disposal. Instead, outcome favorability is the dominant determinant of decision acceptance. The article explicates that while central parts of procedural fairness theory are true, outcome favorability is still overwhelmingly the strongest determinant of individuals’ willingness to accept authoritative decisions. It improves on previous research by locating all key variables into one causal model and testing this model using appropriate data. Findings from a large number of experiments (both vignette and field) reproduce the expected relationships from previous research and support the additional predictions.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden (email: peter.esaiasson@pol.gu.se); Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg (email: mikael.persson@pol.gu.se); Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg (email: mikael.gilljam@pol.gu.se); Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Sweden (email: torun.lindholm@psychology.su.se). Data replication sets are available at http://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataverse/BJPolS and online appendices are available at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123416000508.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Maureen Ambrose . 2002. Contemporary Justice Research: A New Look at Familiar Questions. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 89:803812.

Emily Bianchi , Joel Brockner , Kees Van den Bos , Matthias Seifert , Henry Moon , Marius van Diljke , and David De Cremer . 2015. Trust in Decision-Making Authorities Dictates the Form of the Interactive Relationship Between Outcome Fairness and Procedural Fairness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 41:1934.

Jason Colquitt , and Jerome Chertkoff . 2002. Explaining Injustice: The Interactive Effect of Explanation and Outcome on Fairness Perceptions and Task Motivation. Journal of Management 28:591610.

David De Cremer , and Tom Tyler . 2007. The Effects of Trust and Procedural Justice on Cooperation. Journal of Applied Psychology 92:639649.

David Doherty , and Jennifer Wolak . 2012. When Do the Ends Justify the Means? Evaluating Procedural Fairness. Political Behavior 34:301323.

Peter Esaiasson , Mikael Gilljam , and Mikael Persson . 2012. Which Decision-Making Arrangements Generate the Strongest Legitimacy Beliefs? Evidence from a Randomised Field Experiment. European Journal of Political Research 51:785808.

Robert Folger . 1984. Emerging Issues in the Social Psychology of Justice. In The Sense of Injustice: Social Psychological Perspectives, edited by Roger Folger, 324. New York: Plenum.

Mikael Gilljam , Peter Esaiasson , and Torun Lindholm . 2009. The Voice of the Pupils: An Experimental Comparison of Decisions Made by Elected Pupil Councils, Pupils in Referenda, and Teaching Staff. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability 22:7388.

Charles Helwig , Mary Louise Arnold , Dingliang Tan , and Dwight Boyd . 2007. Mainland Chinese and Canadian Adolescents’ Judgments and Reasoning About the Fairness of Democratic and Other Forms of Government. Cognitive Development 22:96109.

Margaret Levi , and Laura Stoker . 2000. Political Trust and Trustworthiness. Annual Review of Political Science 3:475513.

Robert MacCoun . 2005. Voice, Control and Belonging: The Double-Edged Sword of Procedural Fairness. Annual Review of Law and Social Science 1:171201.

Bernhard Manin . 1997. The Principles of Representative Government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Patrick Shrout , and Niall Bolger . 2002. Mediation in Experimental and Non-Experimental Studies: New Procedures and Recommendations. Psychological Methods 7:422445.

Linda Skitka , and David Houston . 2001. When Due Process Is of No Consequence: Moral Mandates and Presumed Defendant Guilt or Innocence. Social Justice Research 14:305326.

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
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Supplementary Materials

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Appendix

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