The Language of Fairness: how Cross-Linguistic Norms in Spanish and English Influence Reactions to Unfair Treatment

ISI: The Language of Fairness: how Cross-Linguistic Norms in Spanish and English Influence Reactions to Unfair Treatment


2016 - The Spanish Journal of Psychology - Vol. 19, e79, Pp 1 - 15


We integrate recent findings from the linguistics literature with the organizational justice literature to examine how the language used to encode justice violations influences fairness perceptions. The study focused on the use of nonagentive syntax to encode mistakes in Spanish (“The vase was broken”) versus using agentive syntax in English (“She broke the vase”) influences event fairness perceptions. We hypothesized that when justice violations are encoded using Spanish, because the non-agentive syntax makes the responsible party less salient, the event would be perceived as less unfair. In Study 1 (n = 111), English-speaking participants rated the fairness of an event in which a mistake was made and an employee received a negative outcome. They rated it as more unfair (p < .01, η2 = .06) when the scenario was presented in agentive syntax. Experiment 2 (n = 70) used native English- and Spanish-speakers who watched a video of manager making a mistake. We found that Spanish-speakers used less agentive syntax (p < .01, η2 = .21), perceived the event as less unfair (p < .001, η2 = .23), and were more willing to help the manager who made the mistake. In Experiment 3 (n = 101) we replicated this effect controlling for cross-cultural differences and native language; further, we found an interaction between entity fairness (event vs. entity) and native language (Spanish vs. English) on citizenship intentions (p < .01, η2 = .08). These results extend our understanding of how language may influence relevant workplace attitudes.


 agentive syntax, cross-linguistic differences, fairness, organizational justice, perception.

¿Quieres seguir leyendo? [Accede a la publicación completa]

Profesor Pedro Leiva expuso en el Seminario SUSESO-ISTAS 21

El pasado 19 de abril, el Director del Observatorio de Gestión de Personas de la Facultad de Economía y Negocios de la Universidad de Chile, Profesor Pedro Leiva participó como...

Profesora Soledad Etchebarne participo en Seminario de Educación Financiera en Jóvenes Chilenos: Evidencia y Desafíos.

El pasado 14 de marzo de 2018, se llevo a cabo en el auditorio del Banco Central el Seminario de “Educación Financiera en Jóvenes Chilenos: Evidencia y Desafíos”. E...

Todos los Derechos © 2014 | Departamento de Administración - Facultad de Economía y Negocios - Universidad de Chile - Diagonal Paraguay 257, torre 26, oficina 1101, piso 11, Santiago, Chile.