Equity sensitivity versus egoism: A reconceptualization and new measure of individual differences in justice perceptions

Gahyun Jeon, Daniel A. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Traditional research on equity sensitivity has defined the construct as a dispositional preference for increased work rewards and/or a preference for reduced work inputs. We note this classic definition is more consistent with the notion of egoism, and bears little conceptual relationship to equity sensitivity per se. In contrast, we here offer a redefinition of equity sensitivity as a dispositional tendency to perceive stimuli as fair versus unfair. In Study 1, a content validity analysis of the dominant equity sensitivity measure reveals that most items assess input/reward preferences (i.e., egoism), rather than a dispositional tendency to perceive things fairly. In Study 2, we develop a Neutral Objects Fairness Orientation (NOFO) questionnaire, which exhibits discriminant validity from the classic egoism-based equity sensitivity measure. Study 3 further validates the NOFO by demonstrating 3-month retest reliability and incremental validity over the traditional egoism-based measure in predicting justice perceptions. In addition, we show that the NOFO moderates/magnifies the relationship between frequency of evaluative work events and justice perceptions. Study 4 replicates results from previous studies and shows that equity sensitivity and egoism both predict employees' perceived behavioral contributions—but only equity sensitivity does so through a mechanism of justice perceptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-155
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Egoism
  • Equity sensitivity
  • Job satisfaction
  • Neutral Objects Fairness Orientation
  • Neutral Objects Satisfaction Questionnaire
  • Organizational citizenship behavior
  • Organizational justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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