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Comparing Direct and Indirect Measures of Just Rewards

Barry Markovsky and Kimmo Eriksson
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Barry Markovsky: University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA

Sociological Methods & Research, 2012, vol. 41, issue 1, 199-216

Abstract: We offer the first comparison between “direct†and “indirect†methods for measuring perceptions of distributive justice in reward allocations. The direct method simply asks respondents what they would consider to be a fair salary for a particular person in a given set of circumstances. In contrast, the indirect method infers fair salaries from respondents’ judgments about the relative unfairness of hypothetical salaries. The particular indirect method that we will assess is a vignette survey technique pioneered by Jasso and Rossi (1977) and used in a number of more recent publications. The vignettes describe characteristics of a hypothetical employee, with the objective of deriving what respondents believe to be the just reward for that employee. Our experimental test suggests that the two methods yield incompatible results and that neither is immune to bias. The indirect method also suffers from a type of specification error that leads to untenable results. We conclude by suggesting directions for new research to gain a better understanding of these problems and, ultimately, to circumvent them.

Keywords: justice; fairness; judgment; anchoring (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012
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