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The Illusion of Unfairness

Presenters Name: 
Hyokyung (Jenny) Lim
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Rémy Furrer
Secondary Research Mentor: 
2:00 - 3:15
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 2:00pm to 3:15pm
Newcomb Hall Ballroom
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: 
Double Hoo Research Grant

Fairness is a moral value which people strive to uphold for the purpose of maintaining cooperation following the distribution of resources. We explore the notion that people are so attuned to maintaining fairness that they may see unfairness in outcomes where there is objectively none. We propose this illusion of unfairness occurs when people receive a negative outcome as the result of an uncontrollable process that has the appearance of being controllable, even if the procedure used was objectively fair. To test our hypothesis, we designed a paradigm to induce an illusory sense of control within an objectively fair procedure. The paradigm places a participant (P) and a confederate (C) in a setting in which one will receive a negative outcome and the other a positive outcome. Either P, C, or the experimenter (E) flips a coin to determine who (P or C) gets which outcome – an objectively fair procedure. Based on the illusion of unfairness hypothesis, we predict that when P gets the negative outcome, he/she will feel most displeased and find the process to be least fair when the other person (C) flipped the coin, compared to when he/she or E flipped the coin. Finally, we explore the behavioral consequences of this illusion and hypothesize that P will ascribe blame for the negative outcome onto the agent perceived as having had control (C) and will view him or her negatively.