Do the compensatory effects of outcome and procedure on policy acceptance depend on trust in authority?

Xuan-Na Wu1, Xue Wu2
1Beijing Key Lab of Learning and Cognition, Department of Psychology, Capital Normal University, People’s Republic of China
2Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Wu, X. , & Wu, X. (2015). Do the compensatory effects of outcome and procedure on policy acceptance depend on trust in authority?. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 43, 1429-1440.

Volume 43 Issue 9 | e4642 | Published: October 2015 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2015.43.9.1429

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Previous researchers have shown that procedural justice and outcome favorability interact to influence people’s beliefs and behaviors. When an outcome is unfavorable, people tend to respond more positively to policies with fair procedures. We conducted 2 studies to explore the influence of trust in authority on process-by-outcome interaction in public administration in China. In each study, there was a different public policy setting, and different designs and participants (i.e., a scenario tested with Chinese university students in Study 1 and a survey conducted with residents of a city in China in Study 2). The convergent results showed that the interaction between procedural justice and outcome favorability was moderated by trust in authority. When the level of trust was high, the interaction effect was significant, and a fair procedure attenuated the negative effect of an unfavorable outcome. However, when there was little trust, the interaction was absent. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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