To justify or excuse?: A meta-analytic review of the effects of explanations

John C. Shaw, Eric Wild, Jason A. Colquitt
2003 Journal of Applied Psychology  
The authors used R. Folger and R. Cropanzano's (1998 fairness theory to derive predictions about the effects of explanation provision and explanation adequacy on justice judgments and cooperation, retaliation, and withdrawal responses. The authors also used the theory to identify potential moderators of those effects, including the type of explanation (justification vs. excuse), outcome favorability, and study context. The authors' predictions were tested by using meta-analyses of 54
more » ... samples. The results showed strong effects of explanations on both the justice and response variables. Moreover, explanations were more beneficial when they took the form of excuses rather than justifications, when they were given after unfavorable outcomes, and when they were given in contexts with instrumental, relational, and moral implications. "The quarrel is a very pretty quarrel as it stands; we should only spoil it by trying to explain it." -Richard Brinsley Sheridan from The Rivals, act IV, sc. iii "I wish he would explain his explanation." -Lord Byron in Don Juan, Dedication, st. 2
doi:10.1037/0021-9010.88.3.444 pmid:12814294 fatcat:vrqulxfppjachcykrnlgds237q