Not all fairness is created equal: A study of employee attributions of supervisor justice motives. Conference Paper uri icon


  • A large body of research demonstrates that employee perceptions of fair treatment matter. The overwhelming focus of these investigations has been on how employees react to whether or not they perceive their supervisor behaved in a fair manner. We contend, however, that employees not only question and react to whether they are treated fairly, but also to why they believe their supervisor acted fairly in the first place. To do so, we consider how employee attributions of supervisor motives for fair treatment influence the cognitive and affective mechanisms by which fair treatment influences employee reactions to fairness. Drawing from the justice actor model, we focus on both cognitive (establishing fairness, identity maintenance, and effecting compliance) and affective (positive affect) motives underlying supervisors' fair treatment. Relying on theory and research on motive attribution and leader affect, we develop predictions for how employees' perceptions of these motives as a result of short-term exchanges over time influence supervisor-directed citizenship behavior through both cognitive (trust in the supervisor) and affective (positive affect) mechanisms. Our experience sampling study of 613 weekly fair events (from 171 employees) largely supported our predictions, demonstrating that attribution of supervisor motives is a meaningful component of an employee's justice experience. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

published proceedings

  • J Appl Psychol

author list (cited authors)

  • Matta, F. K., Sabey, T. B., Scott, B. A., Lin, S., & Koopman, J

citation count

  • 14

complete list of authors

  • Matta, Fadel K||Sabey, Tyler B||Scott, Brent A||Lin, Szu-Han Joanna||Koopman, Joel

publication date

  • March 2020