Social Conflict and Social Justice:

Lessons from the social psychology of justice judgments


E. Allan Lind


ã E. Allan Lind


Inaugural oration for the Leiden University Fund Chair in Social Conflict. Presented to the Faculty of the University, Leiden, the Netherlands, June, 1995.


Rector Magnificus,

Members of the Board of Governors of the Leiden University Fund,

Curators of this chair,

Colleagues in the University

Ladies and gentlemen:

Mindful of the honor that I have received in being named to this Special Professorship in Social Conflict, I offer the following remarks on the topic of social conflict. I will speak of our current understanding of some key psychological processes associated with social conflict. Specifically, I will speak today of our growing knowledge of the social psychology of justice and of the implications of justice judgments for social conflict and for its reduction.

Certainly our era, like others before it, is plagued by social conflict. As I wrote this lecture, I could be certain, sadly, that when the time came to deliver it there would be no need for proof beyond the week's news to demonstrate just how serious a problem social conflict is. No social or behavioral scientist could help but wonder why we humans seem to leap into argument, dispute, and war at least provocation. In my discipline of social psychology many eminent scholars have dedicated their careers to trying to understand why our species is so prone to conflict. In fact it was with just such a goal that I myself entered the study of social psychology. I hold to that goal, but as I have studied how people think about and behave toward those with whom they have disputes, I have come to believe that there is value in a particular, somewhat indirect route to understanding social conflict. Today I would like describe that approach to the study of social conflict. I will argue that one can understand many of the psychological factors involved in conflict by studying not just conflict behavior, but also its opposite, cooperative behavior. Like other researchers engaged in the study of social justice, I think that if we can understand how people avoid conflict in settings in which conflict might occur, we should be able to apply those lessons to settings in which conflict not only might occur, but does.

If one considers some of the most influential theoretical perspectives on conflict in the behavioral, social, and economic sciences-perspectives such as those represented by game theoretic analyses of the structure of conflict, analyses of interest group politics in political science, or the psychological theory of social categorization-one might wonder not why we humans dispute so much but how we manage to ever cooperate. To note just a few specific examples, Kenneth Arrow's analysis of the likelihood of disagreements in even small groups of individuals, Mancur Olson's analysis of interest group politics, social psychological studies of the escalation of laboratory conflicts by Harold Kelley and others, and Henri Tajfel's work on social categorization and intergroup discrimination; all of these bodies of work, if followed to their logical conclusion, suggest that conflict is inevitable and perhaps intractable. All these lines of research and theory point to the conclusion that conflict is a ubiquitous feature of human existence, either because unavoidable conflicts of interests among people will nearly always escalate or because our most basic social perceptions are geared to differentiate ourselves from others and to seek relative advantage over them.

Many theories of social conflict suggest that whenever people try to divide scarce resources, their egoistic inclinations will push them toward competitive actions that ultimately result in mutual harm. The temptation to act competitively will prompt one person to make choices that benefit his or her individual interests but that harm others in the social group or society. Those harmed by the selfish actions then have all the more reason to behave competitively themselves, and the conflict will escalate with catastrophic consequences for collective interests. Worse still, Tajfel's work suggests that this pattern of competition and retaliation can occur even without initial conflicts of interest. Apparently just the existence of some difference in social categories between people is enough to prompt conflict.

But set against the pessimistic view of conflict posed by these traditions of research and theory is the undeniable fact that people routinely solve many of the social problems that these and other scholars describe. People manage to find ways around conflict in a great many potential disputes. Our societies, business organizations, and political institutions certainly have a great deal more conflict than we would wish, but they just as surely have a good deal less conflict than they might have. It is interesting to ask how we avoid or resolve the disputes we do master.

At least part of the answer to this question, I would argue, lies in ideas of justice and fairness. I would like to describe briefly something of what we know about how people generate and use judgments of fairness. I would like also to describe briefly a theory I have developed to describe how and why justice judgments are closely linked to social conflict.

Fairness as a device for resolving conflict

The research literature on the impact of fairness norms and on related justice judgment processes suggests that few people expect to see their interests or beliefs always prevail over those of others. Instead most of us are willing to accept compromise, as long as outcomes are distributed fairly and as long as the clash of people, groups, and ideas is governed by rules and procedures that are just and evenhanded. People are willing much of the time to subordinate their own desires to the greater good, as long as they have faith in some fundamental fairness in the way that greater good is achieved. Along with other social psychologists, including some of our own faculty here in Leiden, I have been investigating what people actually mean by fairness and how the belief that one has been treated fairly affects social behaviors of various sorts, including the reduction of social conflict.

As the research literature on the psychology of justice has grown, and as theory has developed to account for the phenomena we have observed in the laboratory and in field studies, we have seen several findings that point to the social importance of justice judgments. First, it has become increasingly obvious that justice judgments are what might be termed "pivotal" cognitions-that the belief that one is being treated fairly or unfairly has quite substantial effects on important behaviors and attitudes. Studies have shown that the belief that one has been treated unfairly can exacerbate social conflict, render disputes less tractable to mediation or adjudication, and undermine organizational or political authority. At the other pole, the belief that one has been treated fairly has been found to make people more likely to accept proposed resolutions of conflict and more likely to accept a structure of authority that can regulate and govern individual interests for the greater good of all.

Let me give you an example of the impact of justice judgments from one of my own recent studies. Working with several of my former students, I examined the link between disputants' judgments of the fairness of a mediation procedure used in U.S. federal courts and the disputants' acceptance of proposed case resolutions produced by the mediation procedure. Some nuances of American constitutional law dictated that the mediation could offer suggested resolutions of the case; whether or not to accept the proposed resolution remained entirely at the discretion of the disputing parties. The courts were very interested in what factors predisposed people to accept or reject the proposed case dispositions, and we social psychologists were very interested in studying the impact of justice judgments on decisions to accept or reject the mediated outcome of the dispute. We wanted, in particular, to compare the impact of justice judgments to that of other factors, including the actual economic value of the proposed case outcomes. We were seeking to understand the relative importance of fairness versus self-interest in guiding conflict resolution behavior.

What we found, across nine different federal courts, was that people tended to accept the proposed resolution if they felt that their case had been fairly heard and that they themselves had been fairly treated in the course of the mediation. Remarkably, justice judgments were three to six times more powerful than were economic considerations in determining whether a proposed resolution was accepted. No other factor even approached the power of justice judgments in predicting which resolutions would be accepted and which would be rejected. Furthermore, this "fair process effect" was seen across a variety of case types, it was seen whether the case involved individual or corporate litigants, and it occurred whether the amount in dispute was relatively modest or involved millions of dollars.

A finding like this is all the more striking because we social psychologists have long known that the links between cognitions and behaviors are generally weak. It may seem logical at first consideration to think that attitudes and beliefs guide behavior, but in the real world of social research strong links between what we feel and what we do are rarely seen. To have found such a strong link between beliefs and behavior in the case of justice judgments, and to have found it in a context where the conventional wisdom was that actions are guided by expectations concerning the financial costs and benefits of the conflict made the fair process effect all the more interesting. The finding is supported by other studies showing a strong connection between justice judgments and the acceptance of authoritative decisions. The "pivotal" nature of justice judgments seen in this study is seen also in other studies, which have shown that justice judgments affect other types of behaviors, such as obedience to law and performance in work settings, and that justice judgments affect other cognitions, such as self-esteem and loyalty to groups, organizations and authorities. In short, justice judgments have profound affects on behavior and attitudes in a wide variety of situations. When justice judgments are positive, the scale tips toward acceptance of rules, acceptance of compromises, obedience to authority, and cooperative performance in the interest of the group as a whole. When the judgment is that one's treatment has been unfair, the scale tips toward more selfish, less socially responsible behavior and toward more negative attitudes and beliefs.

This connection between justice judgments and subsequent cooperative behavior is one of the reasons justice judgments are good candidates to help us understand how and why people can so often manage to avoid conflict. Another reason for suspecting that justice judgments are important to understanding social behavior, including conflict behavior, is found the way that people form justice judgments. People seem to always have a justice judgment handy when we ask them about how fairly they have been treated, how fair an outcome is, or whether procedures are fair. Even when they have very little objective information to go on, people are remarkably ready to judge social procedures and social outcomes as fair or unfair. If people are so ready to arrive at judgments of the fairness of outcomes and procedures, it might be because they intend to use these judgments to guide social behavior across a variety of situations.

Again let me illustrate with examples from recent studies. Not long ago, some colleagues and I extended our study of court-sponsored mediation to include a look at another common judicial mediation process in the U.S., a procedure termed the "settlement conference". Settlement conferences involve the use of a judge as a mediator in civil lawsuits, and it is not uncommon for the disputants themselves to be excluded from the conference. The disputants are represented in the conferences by their lawyers, and many settlement conference judges feel that the lawyers are more willing to try hard to arrive at a settlement of the dispute if their clients are not present.

When we asked the disputants about the fairness of the settlement conference process and its outcomes we found that the disputants were convinced that the procedures and outcomes were unfair, notwithstanding the fact that the disputants had little or no direct knowledge about what actually took place in the conferences. It was enough, apparently, for the litigants to know that they were not wanted at the conferences to convince them that the whole enterprise was unfair. This perception of unfair treatment had the effect that one would expect from the research I described earlier: the disputants were generally unwilling to accept the outcome of the settlement conference, even when it was objectively quite favorable to their side of the case.

People make justice judgments on very little information in other contexts as well. Some researchers have asked Americans about the fairness of the procedures used by the United States Congress or our Supreme Court, seeking to discover how these justice judgments are related to the acceptance of controversial decisions. One of the interesting findings of this research is that people have ready answers to questions about the fairness of the decision-making process in these institutions, even though it is quite likely they have little or no real knowledge about the process. I suspect that not one American in three could tell you how cases are selected for hearing by the Supreme Court, anything about the rules governing either the submission of written briefs or oral argument before the Court, or anything about how Congressional committees really work. But this doesn't stop people from forming judgments about the fairness of the Court's and the Congress' procedures and using these judgments to decide whether or not to accept the laws that govern issues like abortion or affirmative action. Apparently people use what little they know, or what they think they know, to generate a justice judgment, and then they use this judgment to decide whether or not they will go along with what the Court-or the Congress-decides.

In less abstract, more personal situations, studies show a similar rush to judgment when it comes to deciding whether one is being treated fairly or unfairly. In laboratory experiments, people form impressions about the fairness of procedures or outcomes in just a few minutes and then use these judgments to guide their behavior either toward cooperation or toward self-interest. Very brief encounters with the police can provoke quite strong justice judgments, and these judgments can influence whether people later obey the law in everyday decisions about the rules and regulations that govern our lives. Further, once made, justice judgments tend to be difficult to change: an initial judgment that procedures or outcomes are fair renders people very tolerant of later encounters with unfavorable outcomes or procedures.

Given findings like these, the next logical questions are "Why are people so quick to generate justice judgments and why do people place such importance on these judgments in deciding how to behave and in forming other attitudes and beliefs?" I have developed a theoretical explanation of these findings that makes some predictions about how and when justice will matter to people. The theory begins by noting that people face throughout their lives the problem of balancing their individual identity and interest with the demands and interests of various groups to which they belong. With respect to social and monetary outcomes, we all face from time to time what are termed "social dilemmas," situations in which the unbridled pursuit of one's own individual self-interest would be harmful for the larger organization, institution, or society within which we exist. The dilemma in a social dilemma lies in the difficulty of choosing between a selfish course action, which yields short-term benefits and allows one to avoid the possibility of exploitation by others, and a collectively responsible course of action which yields long-term benefits, but only if others also decide to behave unselfishly.

Social dilemmas are interesting in their own right, and they have engaged and continue to engage the interests of many scholars, but the outcome conflicts that lie at the heart of social dilemmas are only one aspect of the troubled relationship between individuals and the groups to which they belong. There is a more basic conflict between people and their groups, I would argue, a conflict so basic that it might be labeled "the fundamental social dilemma." This most fundamental dilemma has to do with just how much of our individual identity we are willing to sacrifice to groups, to the families, organizations, and nations to which we belong. The choices involved in the fundamental social dilemma are similar to those which we investigate in social psychological experiments on traditional social dilemmas: In many group contexts we can act in a way that protects our individuality but that diminishes the collective, or we can act in a way that enhances the collective but that might place our individual identity in some jeopardy. In most instances, the implications of identity dilemmas are at once less concrete and far more powerful than the material outcomes that define traditional social dilemmas.

The consequences attached to various choices in the fundamental social dilemmas that I have in mind go to how we define ourselves and how much of our self-identity we are willing to put in the hands of others. As we move away from dilemmas of concrete outcomes and toward dilemmas of identity, I would argue, the stakes become much more important than any material outcome. On the one hand, acceptance by those we admire, love, and respect gives each of us a special, greater identity than we could ever hope to achieve as an unaffiliated individual. If we believe ourselves to be respected and secure in the larger community, our self-esteem is enhanced because our social identity has received an important confirmation. Social psychological studies have shown that the world defines us in large part by the groups-the family, business, profession, nation-to which we belong, and we tend to see ourselves in social terms as well. What we are, psychologically, is largely the collection of our social identities.

This investment of self in one's social identity has its dangers, just as cooperative choices in traditional outcome-focused social dilemmas have dangers. We can gain identity from the groups to which we belong, but we can also lose identity if those groups reject us. To suffer outright rejection or even reduction of status in the social entities in which we have invested our identity goes to the core of our understanding of ourselves. We build our public selves in terms of those with whom we affiliate, and we tend to accept this public self to a remarkable extent in our private constructions of who we are. But all of this leaves us open to the most devastating personal consequences if we lose the positive connection to the groups upon which we base our identity. One need look no further than the powerful psychological consequences of divorce or layoffs to see how vulnerable we are to the removal of social connections.

This analysis of the fundamental social dilemma might be just one more discouraging theoretical perspective for those of us who would like to understand how people come to affiliate and cooperate, did the theory not contain also an explanation of how the dilemma is resolved. Specifically, there is good reason to believe that people are, at some level, very much aware of the simultaneous danger and benefit of belonging to social groups, and that we all have a rough and ready way of determining whether or not to invest ourselves in a given group, organization, or state. The answer lies, I suggest, in justice judgments. People look to how fairly they are treated in order to see whether they can trust the groups with which they identify. If a person feels that he or she is fairly treated, that person will decide that his or her status within the group is secure, and the he or she will cooperate with others in the group more or less automatically, without giving too much thought to the possibility of exploitation or rejection. If, on the other hand, a person decides that he or she has been unfairly treated, the person will worry about his or her status in the group and will pay close attention to short-term outcomes and individual self-interest in deciding how to behave. Solving the fundamental social dilemma by referring to the fairness of one's treatment makes solving traditional, concrete-outcome social dilemmas rather easy: one cooperates in groups that treat one fairly and one competes in those that treat one unfairly.

As can be seen from the convergence of these predictions with the findings of justice judgment research, this theoretical account fits well with what we know about how people generate and use justice judgments. It fits well also with our current knowledge of how people tend to generate and use social cognitions. Social cognition research has shown us, for example, that people often form judgments quickly and then use these judgments as heuristics across a wide variety of settings. Cognitively, the advantage of using justice judgments in the way I have described is that it allows people to get around the logical problems associated with cooperation; socially the advantage is that these processes allow groups to behave in a unified fashion. Using a "fairness heuristic" lets people get on with the business of social life, once they have decided that they are being treated fairly. They can construct their social identities and contribute to the common good without fearing too much that they will be exploited or rejected. Gone is the need to calculate all of the potential consequences of cooperative actions and to attempt to guess the probability of others' favorable or unfavorable behaviors. It is enough to decide that the relationship is fair.

This account explains why people rush to form justice judgments-they need the justice judgments to use as a heuristic to decide whether to behave cooperatively and to invest themselves in the group-and this explains why justice judgments are so pivotal in many areas of social behavior. The theory also makes some predictions that can be compared to what we know about justice judgments and their consequences. In general the theory has fared well in these tests. There are also some predictions from the theory about problems and strengths that are inherent in the use of justice judgments in this way, problems and strengths that tell us something about how social conflict can be moderated. In the next few minutes, I like to outline briefly some of the ways that fairness heuristic theory is borne out in existing research, then I will discuss some of the implications of the theory for how conflict should and should not be managed.

The fairness heuristic and research on social justice

One prediction of the theory I have just described is that justice will be construed largely in terms of one's personal relationships to salient groups. If people generate justice judgments in order to have a standard to use in deciding whether they will be rejected or exploited, then it would make sense for the standard to be primarily concerned with the individual's own personal relationship with the group. Justice judgments should be very sensitive to indications that one is favorably or unfavorably positioned vis-à-vis one's group. This prediction is consistent with the results of recent research on what people mean by justice or fairness in a variety of real-world settings. Studies have shown that justice judgments are strongly relational: they tend to be tied very strongly to aspects of outcomes and procedures that carry an explicit or symbolic message about how one is regarded by groups and authorities.

One example of this is seen in some recent research I conducted with colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, on what makes people feel fairly treated in their work environments. We asked university staff employees whether they felt they were fairly treated, and we measured their perceptions of their work situation along numerous dimensions. What we have found is that, with one exception which I will address later, feelings of justice in the workplace are tied strongly to such things as the employees' perceptions that they receive respectful and polite treatment by supervisors, to perceptions that their treatment by the organization is dignified, and to the perception that supervisors can be trusted to consider the employee's views and needs. These relational factors accounted for much more of the variation in fairness judgments than did such "market fairness" issues as competitive wages. Similarly, our work in the courts has shown that what makes a legal procedure fair in the eyes of a litigant has little to do with legalistic conceptions of bias avoidance or legal rights and a great deal to do with whether the entire experience of litigation seems dignified and whether ideas are heard and evidence weighed by an impartial decision maker. In laboratory experiments we have found that decision making procedures are thought to be more fair if those subject to the decision are given an opportunity to comment, even if the comment is known to have no impact on the decision. What matters most to the judgment that one has been treated fairly, it seems, is information that the group has positive regard for the person's ideas, their dignity, and, above all, for the person's status as a full member of the group.

Note that the prediction that justice will be defined in relational terms applies only to within-group justice. The use of the relation-based fairness heuristic is relevant only to social settings where the issue in question is whether one can trust a group to which one belongs. We would expect from the theory that intergroup justice might be considerably more outcome-oriented and less sensitive to relational concerns. The workplace study conducted at the University of California at Berkeley show that this is indeed the case. We studied people who were disputing either within their own ethnic or cultural group or across cultural or ethnic boundaries. We found that when people are disputing within ethnic group boundaries, relational factors like respect and consideration count for a great deal in determining whether treatment is seen is fair. When people are disputing across group boundaries, they tend to define fairness much more hedonistically-fairness is that which yields favorable outcomes.

Another implication of this theory of justice judgments is that justice judgments should show what we psychologists term a strong primacy effect, especially if the justice judgment is favorable. In less technical terms, what this means is that once people arrive at the conclusion that they are being fairly treated, they cease to look for, or even attend to, additional information that might cause them to revise that impression. After all, the benefit of using justice judgments as a heuristic is that one can stop worrying about issues of inclusion and exploitation and get on with social life. Only if one sees evidence of unfair treatment will one seek more information about fairness.

There is some very recent support for this prediction in a series of experiments conducted by some of my colleagues in the Workgroup on Social and Organizational Psychology here at Leiden University. The experiments showed that once people received information that suggested that they were being treated fairly, they showed little negative reaction to later unfair outcomes or process. Justice judgments, once set, are not easily altered. The research also showed, as predicted, that people who had received information that suggested that they had been unfairly treated continued to process new information about fairness.

Thus, the account of how justice judgments are generated and how they are used finds a good deal of support in the existing research literature and in some recent experiments. The processes posited by the theory are also congruent with our general understanding of how social cognition processes and group dynamics work. If, as all of this suggests, the theory provides an accurate picture of how justice judgments are developed and how they affect behavior, what lessons can be taken back to our original concerns about how to deal with social conflict?

My initial position in this oration was that social justice research can help us understand the psychology of social conflict and give us some clues about how conflict can be reduced. Let me now return to this assertion and see if I can offer some evidence, in light of the material I have described, in its favor.

Social justice lessons for conflict and conflict reduction

First, there is good reason to believe that impressions of fair treatment can do a great deal to alleviate conflict and to dispose people to accept cooperative solutions to their disputes. We have now many, many studies that show that fair procedures can engage the fairness heuristic process and can induce people with quite divergent outcome interests to agree to a resolution of their dispute. Once engaged, the fairness heuristic can lead disputants to focus on constructive resolutions of disputes instead of attending too closely to the immediate personal gains and losses associated with specific actions.

It is clear, in light of the strong primacy effects seen in studies of justice judgments, that the time to establish a favorable fairness impression is early in the resolution of a dispute. It is arguable that primacy effects in justice judgments are one reason that the research literature shows such strong effects for procedural, as opposed to outcome, fairness. In most dispute resolution settings, we encounter information about procedures before we encounter information about outcomes, and we probably use this early procedural information as the basis of our initial justice judgments. If these initial judgments are positive, the theory and research suggest, they become "set" and have massive beneficial effects on subsequent cooperative behavior.

Because it is natural to phrase our discussion of justice judgments in positive terms, we sometimes forget to consider the negative side of the fairness dimension. Just as the belief that one has been treated fairly can do a great deal to reduce conflict, the belief that one has been treated unfairly can exacerbate conflict. The rather pessimistic picture of disputing that I mentioned earlier in the oration assumes a focus on one's own outcomes, and this is exactly the orientation that judgments of unfair treatment seem to provoke. In fact, if procedures and outcomes seem to be very unfair, the implication of rejection and exploitation can add an extra sting and make people ignore even their own interest as they seek to harm those whom they believe have treated them unfairly.

The theory and the research I described above also tell us what should go into a fair conflict resolution process. To engage the conflict resolving properties of the fairness heuristic to the fullest extent, what is needed is a substantial degree of superordinate identification and a strong sense of relational justice.

The question of whether those involved in a dispute view themselves as members of some superordinate group may well be the most difficult criterion for using justice processes to promote the resolution of serious social conflicts. I have noted examples of how relational justice processes work to help resolve legal, organizational, and political disputes, but some of the most troubling social conflicts are those that have at their heart confrontations between people of different ethnicities or races. Because the dynamics of the fairness heuristic are tied so strongly to questions of overarching group identification, one might despair of finding any answers for ethnic and racial conflict in the material I have been reviewing. As I contemplate, for example, whether social justice research has much to tell us about how we Americans might try to resolve the racial tensions that threaten our society, I have to face the question of whether there is enough common group feeling to engage the social justice solutions I have been suggesting.

But even in these most difficult of social conflict contexts the theory and research can suggest a way out. The answer, fairness heuristic theory suggests, lies in the psychological nature of social categorization effects and in the identity-enhancing properties of factors linked to relational justice. In plainer language, what the theory and research tell us is that there is nothing absolute about the group boundaries that separate people-they are, after all, only the construction of our own thought processes. We are only different, insofar as justice judgment processes are concerned, to the extent we believe we are different. Consider the Berkeley workplace study I described a few moments ago. As we explored those data, we found that relational justice processes were sharply attenuated when the person in question did not identify with the overarching group. This is not to say, however, that those who identified strongly with their own ethnic group rejected relational justice. In the final analysis the key variable was not what ethnic group the employee belonged to or how strongly the employee identified with being an African-, Asian-, or Hispanic American, but rather how the employee viewed his or her personal relationship to the organization. It didn't matter if the employee held high levels of identification with his or her ethnic group. As long as the employee also identified with the organization, relational justice processes still exerted powerful effects on cooperative behavior.

This suggests that the question in intergroup conflicts is not how to get people to abandon their original group identifications in favor of identification with another group. What is needed instead is a high level of overarching identification regardless of subgroup identification. And how might this be achieved? I would argue that the answer is in the very psychological process that has led us to pose the question. If we expect people to identify with overarching social entities, we must satisfy the concerns that are inherent in the fundamental social dilemma. To do this, the superordinate group must take care, from the very outset of contact with those whose identification it invites, to treat them with dignity, to grant their needs and their views full consideration, and to avoid any appearance of discrimination.

Just as social justice research and theory can tell us something about which procedures and approaches are likely to be successful in resolving conflicts, the justice judgment literature can also tell us something about approaches that are unlikely to help much. One of the strongest implications of social justice research is that simply providing people with incentives to abandon their disputes generally will do little to truly resolve the conflict and even less to enhance positive identification with the group that is attempting dispute resolution. An example of this sort of unproductive approach to dispute resolution is seen in a common practice in the U.S. courts to try to resolve lawsuits by simply making it more expensive and more difficult to sue. Social justice research and theory would predict, and empirical studies have shown, that this approach might result in fewer lawsuits, but it seldom resolves the underlying conflict and it lessens acceptance of the authority of the courts.

I should add, because by this time it may seem that I am advocating attention to justice judgment processes as something of a panacea, that like any scientific knowledge, knowledge of the psychology of justice can be used for negative as well as positive purposes. The central idea that I have been expounding is that people often attend not to their own outcomes but instead to social information and symbols that reassure them that others can be trusted. Unfortunately, this information and these symbols can be manipulated for deceitful purposes. Because the whole process depends on a person's assessment-and a hurried assessment at that-of his or her social situation, there is the possibility of abuse by those whose intuition or experience has taught them how to induce undeserved trust. The justice judgment process, like most other psychological processes, can sometimes be used against those who rely upon it.

Concluding Remarks

Over the past decade, Leiden University has become one of the preeminent centers for the experimental study of justice judgment processes. Over the next few years I look forward to working with some of you to test the theoretical notions I have presented here, to investigate new justice judgment phenomena, to develop new theories, and to find new applications of this knowledge. If together we can make some progress toward understanding the psychology of social conflict, I think we will all count our time to be very well spent indeed.

In closing, I would like to express my appreciation to the Leiden University Fund, for establishing the special professorship that supports my continuing connection with your university and that provides the means by which I can work with and, hopefully, contribute to our joint efforts to explore important and interesting issues.

I would like to thank Professor Henk Wilke, who has been instrumental both in encouraging me to come to Leiden and in making the special professorship already a productive experience for me and, I hope, for the University. His own work and his encouragement of the work of others contributes greatly to the standing and stature of social psychological research here.

I owe special thanks to Dr. Riël Vermunt, with whom I worked even before coming here, and who has been over the years a true friend and valuable coworker, a guide and advisor for a stranger in a kind, but unfamiliar land, and often my liaison with the faculty and students here. Many thanks are due also to my other colleagues here in the faculty of social science, who have provided many interesting conversations, and who have welcomed a foreigner with tolerance and good will. I look forward to continuing to work with you and to getting to know you better.

I want to recognize also my many positive discussions and my productive research in association with students of the faculty of social sciences and with other members of the university community.

The Executive Director of the American Bar Foundation, Dr. Bryant Garth, made it possible for me to accept the special professorship. He has encouraged me in all aspects of my joint work with Leiden University faculty, and he has welcomed a connection between the University and my home institution. He has also helped me to work out schedules and find additional support for my work here. I also want to give special recognition to the Board of Directors of the American Bar Foundation, who have shown again their support for the research staff of the Foundation and their breadth of vision in allowing me to accept the special professorship.

Two fellow scholars deserve my special thanks for working with me through the years and for helping me accumulate a record that made me a candidate for the special professorship. My mentor, Professor John Thibaut, taught me much of what I know about how to be an experimental and theoretical social psychologist. Even in the years since his death, his influence on my career has continued as I have tried to pursue the course and follow the model he set during my student days and during our later years of working together. Professor Thibaut also provided me with the best possible model of a truly international scholar. He was always interested in the development of our discipline as a world-wide intellectual enterprise, and it was he who first encouraged me to begin working with European social psychologists.

Professor Tom Tyler has worked with me over the past decade and a half. We have forged theory and designed research together, and his work serves as a constant source of ideas and inspiration for my own efforts. Much of the theory I have presented today builds in the most direct fashion on the one hand on the work of John Thibaut and on the other hand on the work of Tom Tyler.

And I would like to acknowledge especially, with great appreciation and affection, the contributions of three of my loved ones-my wife and my two sons-to my work here as well as to my work at home. My sons, Aidan and Peregrine, have endured, always with tolerance and frequently with positive joy, the long airplane trips and the new sights, sounds, and experiences that our trips to Holland have brought their way. My wife, Gina Ke, has always been a major contributor to whatever I have accomplished; she is at once my intellectual companion, my kindest but most thoughtful critic, and the source of many of my best ideas. Her support has extended to matters more practical but also essential to my acceptance of this professorship: she has accepted the intercontinental travel that has been necessary for me to fill the position, and it is she who has borne the brunt of many of the problems that accompany family travels. To these three, and to all the others I have mentioned, I am deeply grateful.



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 ã E. Allan Lind