Episode 15: It’s Not Fair! Equity in Life and Work

MichaelI/O Psychology, Motivation4 Comments

Equity: the battle cry of childhood – It’s not fair – tends to follow us throughout life. Can it affect job satisfaction? Let’s take a look at how fairness, or the lack thereof, plays itself out in the work place. Get ready for a little math. Math? In psychology? You’ll see.


The scales of justice

Equity Theory

  • Inputs: the things that you bring to the job such as your degree, your experience, your talents and skills, even your personality in some cases.
  • Outputs: what you get from your job such as the pay, the benefits package, bonus, the size of your office, prestige, etc.

Equity also operates in our personal relationships. Have you ever felt that you are doing a lot for one of your friends, but that friend isn’t doing much for you? How long does that friendship last?

  • Inputs: time you spend with your friend, time you spend listening to your friend’s problems, money you loan to your friend, favors you do for your friend.
  • Outcomes: amount of time your friend listens to your problems, willingness of your friend to loan you money, favors you get from your friend, prestige you get from hanging around with this friend

4 Comments on “Episode 15: It’s Not Fair! Equity in Life and Work”

  1. Pingback: Episode 38: How Big if Your Office: Another Classic Study in Psychology | The Psych Files

  2. Pingback: Equity, Fairness and Productivity and Job Satisfaction

  3. Khamael Al Safi

    Great analytical look at Equity theory. The examples also clarified a lot of confusions. Really keen to listen to your perceptions on other theories of motivation: Maslow, Vroom, Locke etc in the future!

    Thanks for this and love the quote at the end….would mess with my head if I think about it too much though..

  4. Michael

    Khamael, Glad you liked this episode. Equity theory is one of my favorites – pretty simple, straightforward theory that seems to explain a lot in life. I do talk about goal setting (Locke) and Vroom (expectancy theory) in future episodes so I hope you like those as well. Thanks for the comment!

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