The Simpler, the Better: A New Challenge for Fair-Division Theory


According to John Rawls, there exists a perfect procedural justice for which there is no conflict between process and outcome. One such procedure is the Divide and Choose. Recently, the mathematical theory of fair-division extended this idea by developing procedures that offer fairer outcomes and a better guarantee of justice. Here, we tested the extent to which the distributive and procedural properties of these perfect and improved division procedures were perceived as more satisfactory and fairer than imperfect division procedures. Thirty-nine pairs of participants divided six $10 gift certificates between them using seven division procedures. They rated their satisfaction and their perceived fairness before and after they executed each division procedure. Contrarily to our hypothesis, the results show that perfect procedural justice does not really translate into the perception of a fairer and more satisfactory outcome and process. The most sophisticated division procedures failed to select fair and satisfactory solutions.

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