Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Distributive justice refers to the perceptions of fairness of outcomes received by individuals for their efforts in organizational settings. Punishment is frequently used to eliminate offensive or undesirable behavior in organizations. The present study was based on distributive justice theory and assessed the effects of severity of punishment and the application of distributive justice rules in a sports team setting. Eight scenarios were developed combining two levels of distribution of punishment (consistent or conditional), two levels of severity of misconduct (severe or moderate), and two levels of severity of punishment (severe or moderate). It was hypothesized that consistent punishment across all team members, including the star player, would be perceived as more fair than conditional punishment. It was also hypothesized that more severe punishment would act as a greater deterrent to future offenses than moderate punishment. Each participant responded to one scenario and was asked to rate the following: the fairness of the punishment to the player, the fairness of the punishment to the rest of the team, the likelihood that the punishment will deter the player from future misconduct, and the likelihood that the punishment will deter the other players from future misconduct. The results indicated full support for the first hypothesis and partial support for the second.


Psychology | Sports Sciences