Beyond Procedural Justice: Responding to intergroup-level authority decisions

  • Karolina Urbanska

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The present thesis builds on the relational models of procedural justice (RMPJ) put forward by Tyler and colleagues, which theorise about the importance of authorities being fair in the way they make their decisions. In this view, fair procedures symbolically inform people of their social standing in the society and through this, authorities can gain legitimacy. The present work expands on these models in two ways. First, it proposes that the analysis of authority-subordinate interactions should move beyond the individual-level research, to consider group and intergroup-level interactions. Secondly, it argues that identification with a social group in the first place can be a determinant of perceptions of fairness and the subsequent judgements of the decisions made by authorities. Eight experimental studies investigating group members’ responses to the intergroup-level authority decisions were conducted. The main findings suggest that (a) feelings of loyalty to one’s group increase preference for ingroup favouring decisions regardless of whether these decisions are fair or not, (b) culture and its underpinning values can shape perceptions of fairness in relation to authority decisions, and (c) people generally expect authorities to be fair to others regardless if they are of low or high social standing, but ideologies about the structure of the social hierarchy can inform these expectations of fairness. The findings are discussed in the light of the RMPJ and the implications for governing divided societies.
Date of AwardAug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorSam Pehrson (Supervisor), Rhiannon Turner (Supervisor) & Laura Taylor (Supervisor)

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