Justice and deservingness judgments - refuting the interchangeability assumption

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Included in many discussions in psychology and its related domains is the assumption that deservingness and justice judgments are interchangeable. This paper tries to refute this assumption, while offering a general framework for the understanding of these judgments. My framework suggests that both of these judgments rely on a comparison mechanism that seeks an equilibrium. However, while justice is mainly concerned with a global equilibrium, which focuses on intra-situational aspects, deservingness typically searches for a restricted, local equilibrium, focusing on inter-situational concerns. This framework enables us to understand that justice and deservingness not only differ from each other but also at times may contradict each other. The differences between these judgments are not restricted to conceptual considerations only, but may also have implications for the behavior, as well as other reactions, of those who make these judgments. Considering this rationale, it is suggested that these terms not be used interchangeably unless there is clearly cause to do so.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-193
Number of pages11
JournalNew Ideas in Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1999


  • Deservingness
  • Equilibrium
  • Judgment
  • Justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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