Two exploratory studies, using a role-playing format, demonstrated that preferences for forms of equity are sensitive to context effects. Context effects attributable to variations in residual stimuli appear to influence the importance of comparisons with the co-worker and to make salient either the input or outcome portion of one's own equity ratio. Context effects attributable to changes in background stimuli seem to have less effect on equity preferences. A set of five context-sensitive propositions summarized into two decision rules are shown to predict both absolute and relative equity preferences for American and Dutch respondents. The linkage between the Dutch context and Dutch equity preferences suggests that portions of equity theory may be culture-specific but, more importantly, that potential situations of equity can be perceived in a much more varied manner than we might have anticipated based solely on studies with American subjects.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Grateful acknowledgment is made ,to Karen Bagger, Marinus Jansen, Gerard Bosman, Ari Lengkeek, .Din Binkhorst, Mark van de V~all, and students of Gemeentdijke Hogere Technische School of Utrecht for their assistance in providing., collecting, and interpreting the Dutch equity data. We also wish to thank Margaret Ch~m01i and Raymond Johnson of Macalester College for .assisting with the ~¢ar.ying co-worker data, and Norman Miller and Bill McGarvey for their comments on a preliminary draft of this manuscript. The Na-.tional Science Foundation through Grant GS-33247 and the National Institute of Mental Health through Special ~Fellowship ~-39676-01X1 provided the financial support for these studies.