In this study, we examined the role that perceived procedural justice (PPJ) plays in the conflict management behaviors that intimate spouses adopt and endorse. In this context, PPJ has been defined as the degree to which one perceives that his or her spouse makes decisions fairly, considerately, and in a participatory manner. To test the impact of perceived procedural justice on conflict resolution behavior, we applied the dual‐concern model of conflict management style. In an experiment in which participants read fictional scenarios and predicted spouses’ responses, we found that perceptions of strong PPJ enhanced the prediction of integrating (problem solving), compromising, and, to a lesser degree, obliging behavior. Perceived procedural justice also caused a reduction in avoidance behavior, but no effect we found on dominating (competing) behavior.
In a following correlational study, we also found that PPJ positively correlated to enhanced integrating, compromising, and obliging behaviors, and these correlations were partially or fully mediated by the degree of “dyadic adjustment,” which is a measure of relationship health. In addition, in this second study, we found no correlation between perceived procedural justice and dominating or avoiding behavior.
In both studies, participants either predicted or chose collaborative behaviors more than non‐collaborative ones. We conclude that the perception that one's partner is behaving in a procedurally just way can enhance active and egalitarian collaboration in marriage and other intimate partner relationships, but that the absence of PPJ does not seem to encourage active non‐collaboration, particularly not highly self‐centered dominating behavior.