Beyond Mean Entity Fairness : The Role of the Zone of Tolerance in Responding to Fairness Treatment

We propose that a zone of tolerance of fairness (ZOT) construct, which encompasses a boundary model, provides a deeper understanding of fairness processes. In two field experimental studies using scenario techniques, we manipulated fairness treatment in personnel selection settings and examined the role of a new ZOT measure in event fairness perceptions. Results from Study 1 (N = 222) demonstrated the psychometric properties of the ZOT measure, including reliability, and factorial and discriminant validity. We also found support for our hypothesis that the ZOT measure is a stronger predictor of perceived event fairness than a mean entity fairness measure. Furthermore, results from Study 2 (N = 108) replicated most of those from Study 1. We also demonstrated that individuals’ fairness perception is not a uniform entity but consists of four latent classes, determined by different levels of height and width of the ZOT measure. Class membership was predictive of perceived event fairness when treated unfair. Taken together, our findings suggest that the ZOT measure represents a promising supplementary instrument to the traditional approach targeting applicants’ mean entity fairness.

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