Formation of Procedural Justice Judgments in Legal Negotiation
Research has indicated that procedural justice—fairness of decisionmaking processes—plays an important role in bilateral legal negotiation, encouraging the acceptance of negotiated agreements. Additionally, research has suggested that procedural justice leads to opportunities for increased integrative bargaining. However, procedural justice judgments are typically measured as subjective assessments by disputants. If procedural justice plays an important role in legal dispute negotiation, it is critical to understand how individuals form judgments about fairness of process. The study presented explores antecedents of procedural justice judgments in legal negotiation. Results suggest that although all potential identified antecedent variables—voice, courtesy/respect, trust, and neutrality—play a role in judgments about procedural justice, the primary component is courtesy/respect behavior by the speaker and her partner. Parties share some agreement about the presence of courtesy/respect behavior and trust behavior, and third-party coders can identify behavior that reliably relates to the parties’ procedural justice antecedent assessments. Additionally, results indicate that appeals to potential “neutral” benchmarks such as legal authority lead to lower assessments of procedural justice. These findings suggest that courtesy and respect are the primary drivers of negotiators’ procedural justice assessments, and that such courtesy/respect behavior is not merely a subjective artifact of the participant but can be observed by a third-party coder.