Of course, it may be that there really is a preference for equal outcomes that exists above and beyond a preference for fair outcomes. But to explore this, researchers need to construct studies that carefully distinguish equality from other related considerations. For example, perhaps if a procedure results in too large an inequality, people would be motivated to reduce that inequality, even if they believe the procedure to be fair and the inequality to have no other consequences. This is an empirical question.Furthermore, the idea that people’s discontent with the current distribution of wealth has to do with fairness, rather than inequality itself, opens up a wealth of new questions about which factors (for example, hard work, skill, need, morality) are psychologically relevant for fair distributions.
In particular, the developmental trajectory of concerns for these different factors is largely unexplored, including questions relating to how children determine which factors are relevant to resource distribution (for example, effort, need, and so on) and which are not (for example, height). Emphasizing the role of fairness intuitions in population-level distribution preferences also raises some interesting and under-explored psychological questions relating to how people perceive the existing distribution of factors such as merit, skill, and deservingness in their societies.