Unfair treatment and self-regulatory focus

Daphna Oyserman, Ayse K. Uskul, Nicholas Yoder, Randy M. Nesse, David R. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Ample correlational evidence exists that perceived unfair treatment is negatively related to well-being, health, and goal striving but the underlying process is unclear. We hypothesized that effects are due in part to contextual priming of prevention focus and the negative consequences of chronic prevention-focused vigilance. Indeed, reasonable responses to unfair treatment-to avoid situations in which it occurs or if this is not possible, confront it head on-fit prevention self-regulatory focus response patterns. Results from three experiments support this notion. Priming stigmatized social category membership heightened students' prevention (not promotion) focus (n = 117). Priming non-stigmatized social category membership (i.e., white) did not change prevention focus (n = 46). Priming prevention (not promotion) increased perceptions of unfair treatment (and aroused prevention-relevant fight or flight responses) in response to a negative ambiguous job situation among low and moderate income adults (n = 112).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-512
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • African American
  • Discrimination
  • Prevention
  • Promotion
  • Self-regulatory focus
  • Social class
  • Unfair treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Unfair treatment and self-regulatory focus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this