Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2013). Individualistic and social motives for justice judgments. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1299,  60-67.


Justice judgments are subjective in nature, and are influenced substantially by motivational processes. In the present contribution two motives underlying justice judgments are examined: Individualistic motives to evaluate those solutions to social problems as fair that benefit the self in material or immaterial ways, versus social motives to conceptualize justice in terms of the well-being of others, such as a desire for equality, adherence to ingroup norms, and a concern for the collective interest. A review of relevant research reveals evidence for both motivations when people make evaluations of justice. Moreover, which motive is most dominant in the justice judgment process depends on perceptual salience: Whereas individualistic motives are activated when a perceiver’s own needs and goals are perceptually salient, social motives are activated when other’s needs and goals are perceptually salient. It is concluded that both individualistic and social motives contribute in predictable ways to justice judgments.