Psychology of justice

Mario Gollwitzer*, Jan Willem van Prooijen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The present chapter describes the current state of affairs regarding the psychology of justice. We will give an overview of the most influential psychological theories of (in)justice, describe a representative set of studies and empirical findings from justice research in psychology, and discuss how these theories and findings can be used (a) to better understand justice-related perceptions, cognitions, emotions, and behaviors, and (b) to contribute to peaceful solutions to justice conflicts in our daily lives. This chapter is hierarchically, “vertically” organized. It describes psychological justice research on three different levels. The first, individual level focuses on justice “within” the individual and discusses individual needs, concerns, and motives that may be able to explain whether, why, and under what circumstances people care about justice and when they do not. The second, interpersonal level focuses on justice between individuals and discusses distributive, procedural, interactional, and retributive justice. The third, intergroup level focuses on justice-related conflicts between social groups or social “categories” such as companies, nations, or cultures. In this section, we will discuss what leads people to commit injustices to members of other groups and how group members-even those who were originally uninvolved in the events that originally sparked a conflict-respond to perceived group-based injustices.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Social Justice Theory and Research
EditorsC. Sabbagh, M. Schmitt
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherSpringer New York LLC
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781493932160
ISBN (Print)9781493932153
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Justice
  • Justice-related motives
  • Levels of justice
  • Psychology of justice
  • related personality traits
  • Social conflicts


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