Perceptions of fair treatment in financial services: Development, validation and application of a fairness measurement scale

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to derive, test and validate a comprehensive, inclusive measure of perceptions of fairness in consumers of financial services, as current attempts to measure fairness in a broad-based multi-dimensional manner are underdeveloped.

Design/methodology/approach

A quantitative approach where a large-scale sample of the perceptions of financial services consumers is taken in three periods. Subsequently, exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis are used to analyse the data.

Findings

Fairness comprises three distinct but related elements, namely, procedural, interactional and distributive fairness, and further sub-dimensions are also apparent. The measurement scale exhibits a high degree of validity and reliability and represents a robust measure of fairness perceptions.

Research limitations/implications

Previous conceptual suppositions as to the multi-dimensional nature of fairness are strongly supported. A comprehensive scale is provided for fellow researchers to utilise in other settings. The main limitation is that the measures were tested in a single context, although this is offset by the large scale of the pilot exercise and multiple waves of data collection.

Practical implications

Perceptions of fairness can be measured accurately and tracked, measures for sub-dimensions of fairness can be compared and differences among sectors and demographic segments can be explored. Perceptions of fairness can be related to factors such as trust and purchase intentions in addition to other attitudinal measures.

Originality/value

The fairness measure developed, tested and validated here is the most comprehensive, multi-dimensional measure of fairness available that the authors know of. As such, it represents a valuable conceptual contribution to the assessment of perceptions of fairness.