Judgement day
Original Published Date: 
Thursday, September 30, 2021

Full article in The Conversation.

New research supported by an ARC Discovery Projects grant led by researchers at The University of Melbourne has found that people’s ideas about fairness may stem from their personality traits.

Psychologists have observed that in many disputes over what is fair, disagreements are caused by the absence of a single universal moral solution that decides how to share a resource. Instead, there may be several acceptable moral stances, or 'norms'. Previous research has found that when such a multiplicity of norms are involved in decision making, individuals tend to gravitate toward the ones that best serve their economic interests.

The research team, led by PhD candidate Milan Andrejević, has explored these issues in two new studies. In the first, they developed a new way to measure the relative importance individuals give to different fairness norms. In the second, they related these measures to personality traits.

They found that being 'agreeable' predicted a higher adherence to 'fairness' norms, which suggests that a polite and compassionate person would be highly sensitive to perceived unfairness, and thus judge the perpetrator of the unfairness more harshly.

The researchers say that these findings  that people who scored highly on the traits of conscientiousness, openness and extraversion also made harsher judgements  were somewhat surprising. They are now considering future studies to further investigate why this is the case.

 

Photo credit: 

Image: Pxhere (Public Domain).