The Feeling of Justice
Posted in Dissonance 1 min read
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The Feeling of Justice

When was the last time you felt the need for justice (or fairness)? Did someone break the law? Were you being treated unfairly at work? Did you read about a crime or saw someone’s behaviour on social media?

All of these situations have something in common. You experienced an emotional reaction right before it turned into a “need for justice”. It could also have turned into other bahaviour, like an angry reply or physical violence.

What if “justice” is nothing more than a means to deal with the result of a feeling; an interpretation (feeling) of an uncomfortable physiological arousal (emotion) of our direct experience or reading/viewing of an experience, which resulted in a form of dissonance?

In order to rectify this dissonance, we utilise justice1 (one of many responses) as a means to balance it.

If this was true, what would it mean to our understanding of justice or fairness? It could explain why there are differences in people’s interpretation of justice and objective experience of what is perceived to be injustice. Additionally, by understanding the root of the experience, we have an opportunity to reavaluate our responses; should punishment reflect our collective emotional experience or our intended vision for social engagement?


  1. Justice can take many forms and isn’t necessarily enforced by legal law.

Dissonance Emotion Feelings Justice

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