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Classroom justice: student aggression and resistance as reactions to perceived unfairness

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The present study examined the relations between students' perceptions of distributive and procedural justice in college classes and student aggression and hostility toward their instructors and resistance of their instructors' requests. Although perceptions of both distributive and procedural justice were negatively correlated with student aggression and hostility, hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that only perceptions of procedural justice predicted these two criterion variables. The relationships between perceptions of justice and students' use of resistance strategies were less consistent. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that perceptions of procedural justice negatively predicted student revenge and deception. Contrary to predictions, perceptions of procedural and distributive justice did not interact to predict student aggression, hostility, or resistance. In short, students' perceptions of procedural justice in the classroom--for example that grades were distributed on the basis of fair evaluation criteria--appear more important than students' beliefs about the fairness of the assigned grade in determining student compliance and civility.
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Keywords: aggression; hostility; justice; resistance

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-07-01

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