Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

James M. Thomas


The effects of gender of observers and victims on perceptions of fairness in unjust situations were investigated. Subjects participated in group sessions and were blocked by gender and then assigned to either the disadvantaged female (read a composition concerning a femal who received poor outcomes) or disadvantaged male (read a composition concerning a male who received poor outcomes) group. After reading the composition, subjects completed a questionnaire which was related to the composition. It was expected that the perception of fairness would depend upon the gender of the perceiver as well as the gender of the victim. Specifically, females would perceive the procedure and outcomes in the hypothetical situation as significantly more unfair than would males. Results supported this hypothesis and showed a main effect for situation (i.e., disadvantaged female scenario versus disadvantaged male scenario). In other words when a female received poor outcomes, both male and female subjects perceived more procedural and outcome unfairness than when a male received poor outcomes. Analysis of responses to a measure of empathy supported research that found females to be more empathetic than males. However, the empathy scale was not psychometrically acceptable. Therefore, these results should be interpreted with caution.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts, Psychology University of Nebraska at Omaha.