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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.

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

EmilyBianchi , JoelBrockner , KeesVan den Bos , MatthiasSeifert , HenryMoon , Mariusvan Diljke , and DavidDe 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.

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PeterEsaiasson , MikaelGilljam , and MikaelPersson . 2012. Which Decision-Making Arrangements Generate the Strongest Legitimacy Beliefs? Evidence from a Randomised Field Experiment. European Journal of Political Research 51:785808.

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MikaelGilljam , PeterEsaiasson , and TorunLindholm . 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.

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MargaretLevi , and LauraStoker . 2000. Political Trust and Trustworthiness. Annual Review of Political Science 3:475513.

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BernhardManin . 1997. The Principles of Representative Government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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LindaSkitka , and DavidHouston . 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

Esaiasson supplementary material
Appendix

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