This research addresses system justification tendencies in the United States and Hungary and their potential to shape reactions to equity–equality tradeoffs in the workplace.
Participants in both nations were asked to rate the fairness of, their satisfaction with, and the typicality of four hypothetical work situations. These scenarios differed in terms of which distributive justice principle was violated (equity or equality) and whether the violation favored the participant or the co-worker (self or other). While the mean level of system justification was lower in Hungary than in the U.S., multilevel models revealed that in both societal contexts the motivation to justify the system was associated with participants’ perceptions of justice in the workplace.
Based on the characteristics of the two social systems, however, these tendencies played out differently. Specifically, for the U.S. participants system justification was associated with more favorable views of work situations that emphasized equity over equality and that rewarded the self over others, whereas for Hungarian participants system justification was associated with more favorable views of work situations that emphasized equality over equity and that rewarded others over the self.
Results also revealed that Americans (but not Hungarians) who scored higher on system justification perceived as fairer that which they perceived as more typical of their society. Taken as a whole, the evidence suggests that the psychological transfer of legitimacy from socialism to capitalism in Hungary remains incomplete.
Download the paper: Van der Toorn, J., Berkics, M., & Jost, J. T. (2010). System justification, satisfaction, and perceptions of fairness and typicality at work: A cross-system comparison involving the U.S. and Hungary. Social Justice Research, 23,189-210.