A behavior analysis of individuals' use of the fairness heuristic when interacting with groups and organizations

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In the present analysis the author utilizes the groups as patches model (Goltz, 2009 Goltz, S. M. 2009. Perceived “fairness” of groups and organizations: A human foraging rule? Presented at the Association for Behavior Analysis Meetings, Arizona: Phoenix., 2010) to extend fairness heuristic theory (Lind, 2001 Lind, E. A. 2001. “Fairness heuristic theory: Justice judgments as pivotal cognitions in organizational relations”. In Advances in Organizational Justice, Edited by: Greenberg, J. and Cropanzano, R. 56–88. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.) in which the concept of fairness is thought to be a heuristic that allows individuals to match responses to consequences they receive from groups. In this model, individuals who are reviewing possible groups to join use stimuli they associate with fairness as screens to select groups with whom they will initiate contact. During initial contact, as well as after individuals have joined the group, individuals look for confirmation or disconfirmation of initial impressions of fairness, consistent with tracking, in which rules are followed because of a history of correspondence between the rule and the natural contingencies. These modified fairness assessments then serve to match the individual's responses to the rate of reinforcement being obtained from the group. In the case of unfairness, these responses may include lowered rates of responding, threats of punishment for unfairness, or switching to alternative groups.

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© 2013 Taylor and Francis. Publisher’s version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01608061.2012.757993

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Journal of Organizational Behavior Management