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Lady Justice Thinks Unconsciously: Unconscious Thought Can Lead to More Accurate Justice Judgments

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In this article, we argue that when forming justice judgments, unconscious thought can lead to more accurate justice judgments than both conscious thought and immediate judgment. In two experiments, participants formed justice judgments about complex job application procedures. Specifically, participants made comparative justice judgments (Experiment 1) or absolute justice judgments on rating scales (Experiment 2). In immediate judgment conditions, participants made a justice judgment immediately after reading the stimulus materials. In conscious thought conditions, participants consciously thought about their justice judgment for 3 minutes. In unconscious thought conditions, participants were distracted for 3 minutes and then reported their justice judgments. As predicted, findings of both experiments show that unconscious thinkers made the most accurate justice judgments. These results provide a new perspective on the social psychology of justice judgments and yield additional insight into unconscious thinking.