When do severe sanctions enhance compliance? The role of procedural fairness

Peter Verboon*, Marius van Dijke

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Building on theoretical notions that severe sanctions (more than mild ones) can communicate that sanctioned behavior is morally unacceptable, we argued that particularly authorities who enact the sanction procedures in a fair manner stimulate compliance with their decisions. This is because such authorities should be considered legitimate to communicate what is morally acceptable and unacceptable. This interactive effect of sanction size and procedural fairness on compliance should thus be mediated by moral evaluations of the authority. A field survey and an experiment revealed support for these predictions. These results thus support a non-instrumental perspective on the effectiveness of sanction severity in increasing compliance with authorities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)120-130
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
    Issue number1
    Early online date27 Sep 2010
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


    • Sanction severity
    • Procedural fairness
    • Compliance
    • Moral evaluations


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