John Stacey Adams’s Equity Theory proposes that individuals are motivated to exhibit certain behaviors in an effort to rectify perceived unfair treatment (Holdford & Lovelace-Elmore, 2001). Holdford and Lovelace-Elmore (2001) imply that individuals retain a mental register of current and past experiences with authority figures and then, establish the fairness of their experiences by comparing the authority figure’s feedback to their perceived contributions and/or task completion. If an individual finds that their treatment has been fair, then they will be motivated to maintain their previous behaviors. However, if an individual identifies unjust treatment, he/she will be motivated to modify his/her behavior in order to develop a more favorable perception or counter productively minimize future efforts (Holdford & Lovelace-Elmore, 2001).
Holdford, D. & Lovelace-Elmore, B. (2001). Applying the principles of human motivation to pharmaceutical education. Journal of Pharmacy Teaching, 8(4), 1-18.