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Belief in a Just World

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According to just world research, people need to believe that they live in a world in which everyone gets what they deserve and deserves what they get. This belief in a just world is conceptualized as an interindividually varying disposition and has important adaptive functions. The stronger this belief is, the more people trust in justice and the more they defend justice in the world, either behaviorally or cognitively, and the better their well-being is. see: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780080970868240439
International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences (2nd
edition)
Belief in a Just World
Claudia Dalbert and Matthias Donat
Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
Dalbert, C. & Donat, M. (2015). Belief in a just world. In J. D. Wright (Ed.), International
Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (2nd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 487-492). Oxford,
UK: Elsevier. doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-097086-8.24043-9
This chapter does not exactly replicate the final version published in the International
Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (2nd ed). It is not a copy of the original
published article and is not suitable for citation.
See: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780080970868240439
Author for correspondence:
Prof. Dr. Claudia Dalbert
Department of Educational Psychology
Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg
Franckeplatz 1
D-06099 Halle/Saale
Germany
Phone: +49-345-5523822
Fax: +49-345-5527135
Email: claudia.dalbert@paedagogik.uni-halle.de
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Abstract
According to just world research, people need to believe that they live in a world
in which everyone gets what they deserve and deserves what they get. This belief in a just
world is conceptualized as an interindividually varying disposition and has important
adaptive functions. The stronger this belief is the more people trust in justice and the more
they defend justice in the world, either behaviorally or cognitively, and the better their
well-being is.
Keywords
justice motive, Melvin Lerner, justice, assimilation, blaming the victim, disdain,
justice judgments, trust, subjective well-being, implicit motive
Suggestions for Cross References (see Table of Contents)
deviant behavior, aggression, justice, prosocial behavior, neuroticism, subjective
well-being, authoritarianism, personality, academic achievement, motivation,
delinquency, religiosity, attribution, trust, risk, classroom climate
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Conceptualization of the Belief in a Just World
Societies are full of inequalities and injustices -- the uneven distribution of wealth
or the inequality of access to health care and education to name just a few. Individuals
react differently to observed or experienced injustice. Some feel moral outrage and seek
to restore justice (e.g., Montada et al., 1986). Others show disdain for the victims (for a
review, see Lerner & Miller, 1978) or adopt belief systems that serve to justify existing
social, economic, and political arrangements (Jost et al., 2004). In other words, people
confronted with injustices restore justice in reality or they may try to restore injustices --
that are difficult to redress in reality -- cognitively by blaming the victim or justifying the
status quo. The more people believe in a just world the more they care for justice.
The Just World Hypothesis
Several psychological theories propose explanations for justice-driven reactions.
One of the most influential is the just world hypothesis introduced by Lerner (e.g., Lerner
& Simmons, 1966). The just world hypothesis states that people need to believe in a just
world in which everyone gets what they deserve and deserves what they get. This belief
enables them to deal with their social environment as though it were stable and orderly
and thus serves important adaptive functions. As a result, people are motivated to defend
their belief in a just world when it is threatened by injustices, either experienced or
observed. If possible, justice is restored in reality (e.g., by compensating victims). If the
injustice seems unlikely to be resolved in reality, however, people restore justice
cognitively by re-evaluating the situation in line with their belief in a just world. This
cognitive process is called the assimilation of injustice.
This just world dynamic was first evidenced by Lerner and Simmons (1966).
These researchers confronted their participants with an “innocent victim,” a young
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woman participating in a learning task who was punished for each mistake by being
administered seemingly painful electric shocks. When led to believe that the experiment
would continue in the same way, the participants showed disdain for the victim on an
adjective measure; when led to believe that the victim would be compensated for the pain
of the electric shocks by receiving money for each correct answer in a second part of the
experiment, they stopped disdaining the victim. Finally, nearly all participants who were
given the choice between continuing the shock condition and switching to the
compensation condition voted for the latter. Note, however, that merely voting to award
the victim compensation did not stop participants from derogating the victim. It was only
when they were certain that compensation would be given that the injustice was no longer
assimilated. This innocent victim paradigm remains the most influential in modern
experimental just world research; it is only the type of innocent victim that has changed
(e.g., Correia et al., 2007). In sum, the confrontation with an innocent victim triggers a
motivation to restore justice.
The Belief in a Just World as a Disposition
A substantial amount of research on belief in a just world has been experimental in
nature (for a review, see Hafer & Bègue, 2005), focusing primarily on the maladaptive
functions of the belief in a just world, such as disdain for the victim. Since the 1970s,
however, another strand of research has examined individual differences in the belief in a
just world and found that it also serves important adaptive functions (for a review, see
Furnham, 2003). This research agenda was triggered by the introduction of the first belief
in a just world scale by Rubin and Peplau (1973), which assessed individual differences in
the belief that the world is generally a just place. This approach allowed the role of the
belief in a just world to be investigated within the framework of personality dispositions,
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and positive associations were found particularly with authoritarianism and internal locus
of control (for a review, see Furnham & Procter, 1989).
Since the 1990s, more studies have investigated the positive as well as the
negative social consequences of the belief in a just world, and the focus of these
investigations has been extended to cover the consequences of holding a belief in a just
world for the believers. Based on suggestions originating from earlier research (e.g.,
Furnham & Procter, 1989), these studies have shown that it is necessary to distinguish the
belief in a personal just world, in which one is usually treated justly, from the belief in a
general just world, in which people in general get what they deserve (e.g., Dalbert, 1999).
In line with the self-serving bias in general and in fairness reasoning in particular
(Messick et al., 1985), research evidenced that people tend to endorse the personal more
strongly than the general belief in a just world and that the two constructs have a different
meaning. The personal belief in a just world is a better predictor of adaptive outcomes
(e.g., subjective well-being), and the belief in a just world in general is a better predictor
for example of harsh social attitudes (e.g., Bègue & Muller, 2006).
Of course, other differentiations of the just world construct have also been
proposed. For the general just world belief, e.g., a general belief in immanent justice has
been distinguished from a general belief in ultimate justice, and a general belief in
distributive justice has been distinguished from a general belief in procedural justice (e.g.,
Lucas et al., 2007). Finally, the general belief in a just world has been differentiated from
the general belief in an unjust world (Dalbert et al., 2001). This latter research showed
that general belief in a just world should not be seen as a bipolar construct, but as a
two-dimensional one. However, the differentiation between a more general and a more
personal just world belief thus far seems to be the most widespread and well examined
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distinction. Thus, the present summary focuses on research on general and personal just
world beliefs.
Belief in a Just World and Other Personality Dispositions
One of the first associations observed between the belief in a just world and other
personality dispositions was the positive correlation between just world belief and
religiosity (e.g., Rubin & Peplau, 1973). Research on the differences between the two has
confirmed that they are distinct dispositions, and cross-cultural research has found few
differences in the just world belief across cultures with contrasting religious and political
backgrounds (e.g., Furnham, 1993). A positive and sometimes substantial association has
also been found between authoritarianism and just world belief (for a review, see
Furnham & Procter, 1989). Analyses of the common factor structure of the two constructs
support the two-factor hypothesis and their differential meaning, with the belief in a just
world providing a more positive outlook than authoritarianism (e.g., Dalbert, 1992). The
positive associations repeatedly observed between just world belief and internal locus of
control have prompted speculation about an overlap between these two constructs as well
(for a review, see Furnham & Procter, 1989). The two constructs should be distinct from a
theoretical perspective, however. The belief in personal agency is consistent with the
belief in a just world as long as the justice principle endorsed is the equity norm. Other
ideas of justice (e.g., the equality or the need principle of justice or the belief in a just
God) are not consistent with the belief in internal control. Finally, there is some evidence
to suggest that the belief in a just world as a personality trait is correlated with global
personality dimensions. In particular, empirical findings indicate a negative relationship
between just world belief and neuroticism, consistent with the positive outlook that the
belief in a just world provides (e.g., Lipkus et al., 1996). Nevertheless, studies controlling
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for neuroticism evidenced the incremental validity of the just world belief (e.g., Dalbert
& Dzuka, 2004). Taken collectively, research supports the differential validity of the
belief in a just world within the network of personality dispositions.
Justice Motive versus Justice Motivation
In the context of just world research and theory, scholars often speak of the justice
motive (e.g., Ross & Miller, 2002). The shift from the experimental to the individual
differences approach to the belief in a just world made it necessary to differentiate
between a justice motive and justice motivation. Motives are individual dispositions
reflecting individual differences in the tendency to strive for a specific goal. A justice
motive is thus an individual disposition to strive for justice as an end itself. According to
Lerner (1977), the individual belief in a just world can be interpreted as an indicator of
such a justice motive. The belief in a just world indicates a personal contract; the more
people want to rely on being treated justly by others, the more obligated they should feel
to behave justly themselves. Thus, the stronger the belief in a just world is, the stronger
the justice motive.
Experimental just world research typically does not assess individual differences,
however, but interprets experimental reactions in the light of just world reasoning. Such
research thus addresses justice motivation, and not the justice motive as an individual
differences disposition. Motivation can be defined as a person’s orientation toward a
specific goal in a specific situational state; thus, justice motivation means the orientation
toward justice in a given situation. Justice motivation is triggered by specific situational
circumstances in interaction with personal dispositions. In the case of justice motivation,
that personal disposition may be the justice motive or other dispositions (e.g., Lind & van
den Bos, 2002). As an extension of this reasoning, belief in a just world is an indicator of
8
a justice motive; justice motive theory (Dalbert, 2001) moreover perceives it as an
implicit justice motive that operates on an intuitive level of information processing and
predicts intuitive reactions to injustice (for a review, see also Hafer & Bègue, 2005).
Consequences of the Belief in a Just World
Today belief in a just world represents a disposition that can easily be measured.
Thus, a growing number of research in the last decade was able to show important
consequences of that belief. In line with justice motive theory, this research indicates
that belief in a just world leads to intuitive justice-driven reactions as the striving for just
behavior and the avoidance of unjust behavior, assimilation of injustice, and trust in
justice. Therefore, belief in a just world serves adaptive functions and can thus be seen
as a resource that sustains subjective well-being (Dalbert, 2001).
Belief in a Just World and Social Behavior
In a just world, a positive future is not the gift of a benevolent world, but a reward
for the individual’s behavior and character. Consequently, the more individuals believe in
a just world, the more compelled they should feel to strive for justice themselves. The just
world belief is thus indicative of a personal contract (Lerner, 1977), the terms of which
oblige the individual to behave justly. Therefore, strong just world believers are more
likely to help people in need (Bierhoff et al., 1991), at least as long as the victims are seen
as “innocent” or as member of the in-group (e.g., Correia et al., 2007). In addition, the
belief in a just world has been shown to be one of the important correlates of social
responsibility (Bierhoff, 1994), commitment to just means (e.g., Hafer, 2000), and,
inversely, delinquent and cheating behavior (e.g., Donat et al., 2014), and bullying
behavior (e.g., Donat et al., 2012). Moreover, the obligation for reciprocity has been
found to be stronger among individuals with a strong just world belief (Edlund et al.,
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2007). Finally, a laboratory study revealed that own unjust behavior is censured by a
decrease in self-esteem only for those with a strong belief in a just world (Dalbert, 1999).
Belief in a Just World and the Assimilation of Injustice
When individuals with a strong just world belief experience an injustice that they
do not believe can be resolved in reality, they try to intuitively assimilate the experience
to their just world belief. This can be done for example by justifying the experienced
injustice as being at least partly self-inflicted, by playing down the injustice, by avoiding
self-focused rumination, or by forgiving (e.g., Dalbert, 1997). As a result of these
mechanisms, positive relationships have been observed between the belief in a just world
and justice judgments in various domains of life. Most research into this assimilation has
dealt with blaming the victim and justice judgments.
Blaming the Victim
A wealth of evidence from traditional research into the just world construct shows
that individuals confronted with injustice are motivated to defend their just world belief.
When observers are given the opportunity to adequately compensate an “innocent” victim
(e.g., Berscheid & Walster, 1967) and thus restore justice in reality, nearly all choose to
do so (Lerner & Simmons, 1966). If they are not in a position to secure compensation for
the victim, observers tend to defend their belief in a just world by psychological means.
Two of these means have been examined in detail in just world research. Observers can
either show disdain for victims, reasoning that their fate is a deserved punishment for a
bad character (characterological attribution), or they can blame victims for having
inflicted their fate upon themselves -- after all, a self-inflicted fate is not unjust
(behavioral attribution). Just world research has shown that observers prefer to blame the
victim rather than to show disdain. The more a fate is seen as self-inflicted, the less
10
disdain is observed (e.g., Lerner & Matthews, 1967). In sum, when people are confronted
with the victim of an unjust fate, blaming the victim seems to be a crucial element in the
defense of their belief in a just world.
Similar mechanisms can be assumed to operate for the victims of injustice
themselves. Comer and Laird (1975) have shown experimentally that internal attributions
seem to be a way of re-evaluating one’s fate as just. The significance of causal
attributions, and especially of internal attributions, has thus been a subject of much
discussion in the context of the just world hypothesis (e.g., Lerner & Miller, 1978).
People with a strong just world belief are expected to be motivated to defend their belief
by making internal attributions of negative outcomes, thus maintaining their subjective
well-being. Although some research evidenced the hypothesized positive association
between just world belief and internal attributions of the victims themselves (e.g., Hafer
& Correy, 1999), other studies found no association between them (e.g., Fetchenhauer et
al., 2005). Overall, the pattern of results for the belief in a just world and victims’ internal
attribution is rather mixed.
Justice Judgments
As a consequence of the assimilation process, individuals with a strong just world
belief are expected to evaluate observed events and events in their own life as being more
just. For example, school students with a strong belief in a just world have been found to
be more likely to evaluate their school grades and their teachers’, peers’, and parents’
behavior toward them as just (e.g., Peter & Dalbert, 2013), and feel less excluded from
school and generally (Umlauft et al., 2013). Similarly, prisoners with a strong personal
just world belief were more likely to evaluate the justice of the legal proceedings leading
11
to their conviction, the treatment by their prison officers, and decisions on prison affairs
as more just (e.g., Dalbert & Filke, 2007).
The personal just world belief is usually seen as a personal disposition, but results
indicating an additional, reverse effect of justice experiences on the belief in a just world
qualify this assumption. Research has shown that justice experiences in the school and the
family modify the personal just world belief (Dalbert & Stoeber, 2006), and that factors
such as length of imprisonment (Otto & Dalbert, 2005), monotony at work, and mobbing
experiences at work (e.g., Dzuka & Dalbert, 2007) are negatively related to the personal
just world belief. Thus, the belief in a personal just world must be seen as a partly
experiential construct. Nevertheless, an unambiguous pattern of results clearly indicates
that a strong personal just world belief leads to events being evaluated as just. Cubela
Adoric and Kvartuc (2007) have suggested that injustice experiences only impact the
belief in a just world when they reach a specific degree of adversity. Further studies are
needed to determine under which conditions the just world belief fosters the assimilation
of injustice and under which conditions injustice can no longer be assimilated, but instead
undermines the belief in a just world and leads to adverse consequences as embitterment
(Dalbert, 2010).
Belief in a Just World and the Trust in Justice
People with a strong belief in a just world are thought to be confident in being
treated justly by others, and it is this trust in particular that is hypothesized to give the just
world belief the character of a resource in everyday life. Assuming that people get what
they deserve, they will be punished for deceiving others. Accordingly, in a just world,
people are expected to be honest with one another, and people who have been deceived
may conclude that they deserved it in some way. It can thus be hypothesized that people
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with a strong just world belief prefer not to think they have been deceived or taken
advantage of. In line with this reasoning, research has shown a positive association of just
world belief with general interpersonal trust (e.g., Bègue, 2002), trust in societal
institutions (Correia & Vala, 2004), and young adolescents’ trust in the justice of their
future workplace (Sallay, 2004). This trust in future justice has a number of implications.
Risk Perception
Individuals with a strong just world belief are convinced that good things happen
to good people and that bad things happen to bad people. Because individuals tend to
think of themselves as good people (e.g., Messick et al., 1985) the belief in a just world
can be expected to give them an optimistic outlook on the future. This buffering effect is
expected to be particularly evident when people are threatened by injustice. Lambert et al.
(1999) were the first to study the meaning of the belief in a just world for risk perception
and showed that the just world belief seems to enable fearful individuals (i.e., those high
in authoritarianism) to be confident of avoiding an unjust fate. It is particularly important
for individuals exposed to external risks -- i.e., those perceived to be controlled by others
or by fate (e.g., robbery) -- rather than to internal risks -- i.e., those that are under their
personal control (e.g., suicide) -- to be able to rely on the environment being just. Indeed,
Dalbert (2001) found that the buffering effect of the just world belief for fearful
individuals held only for external risks, and not for internal risks. Finally, Hafer et al.
(2001) found that individuals with a strong just world belief, but low in interpersonal
control, seem to put themselves at greater risk, presumably as a consequence of a lowered
risk perception. In sum, just world belief appears to function as a buffer against the
perception of external risk for those who tend to need such a buffer, but this mechanism
may result in higher exposure to risks in reality.
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Investment in One’s Future
The belief in a just world enables individuals to rely on their good deeds being
rewarded at some point in the future. The certitude that everyone will ultimately get what
they deserve encourages individuals to invest in their future. In contrast, those who do not
believe in a just world doubt the value of such an investment, because the return on it is
uncertain. Zuckerman (1975) was the first to observe that people with a strong just world
belief may choose to invest in their future when in a state of need to trust in the justice of
their own future. Hafer (2000) corroborated these findings and demonstrated
experimentally that individuals with a particular need to believe in a bright future
defended their just world belief more strongly in the face of threat. In the same vein,
questionnaire studies with students facing the school-to-work transition (Dette et al.,
2004), young male prisoners (Otto & Dalbert, 2005), and young adults living in assisted
accommodation (Sutton & Winnard, 2007) have shown that just world belief is positively
associated with confidence that personal goals will be attained.
Achievement
Individuals with a strong belief in a just world show more trust in their future and
in others’ behavior toward them. It is thus hypothesized that they expect to be confronted
with fair tasks in achievement situations, and for their efforts to be justly rewarded. They
can thus be hypothesized to feel less threatened and more challenged by the need to
achieve, to experience fewer negative emotions, and to achieve better results. Tomaka
and Blascovich (1994) conducted a laboratory study to test the basic hypotheses outlined
above and confronted their participants with two rapid serial subtraction tasks.
Participants with a strong just world belief felt more challenged and less threatened, and
performed better than those with a weak belief.
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Extending this laboratory research to the school and work setting, studies have
revealed a positive correlation between just world belief and school achievement, and
self-rated performance at work (e.g., Kahileh et al., 2013). Finally, Allen et al. (2005)
have observed that nations whose citizens have stronger just world beliefs show a faster
pace of workforce modernization and GNP/capita growth.
Belief in a Just World and Subjective Well-Being
Because the main properties of the belief in a just world -- indicating commitment
to a personal contract, endowing trust in the justice of the world, and providing a
framework for the interpretation of the events in one’s life -- have a variety of adaptive
implications, the belief in a just world can be expected to positively impact subjective
well-being, either directly or indirectly, mediated by these implications. There is ample
evidence of a positive relationship between just world beliefs and subjective well-being.
Moreover, research has shown that the belief in a personal just world is more important
than the general just world belief in explaining well-being (e.g., Otto et al., 2006), and
that this positive association between just world belief and well-being is true for
non-victims (e.g., Dzuka & Dalbert, 2006) and various groups of victims (e.g., Otto et al.,
2006). In addition, Dzuka and Dalbert (2007) demonstrated that teachers’ well-being was
positively associated with their belief in a just world and that this relationship held when
exposure to student violence was controlled. This study is one of the few to have found
evidence for a buffering effect of the just world belief: It was only among teachers with a
weak just world belief that exposure to violence was associated with more negative
affect; exposure to violence did not explain negative affect among those with a strong just
world belief.
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A personal resource can be defined as a personal disposition that helps people to
cope with the events of their daily life. The stronger the resource, the better equipped they
are to cope. A personal resource thus implies a main effect hypothesis. A personal buffer,
in contrast, is usually seen as a resource that takes effect only under specific adverse
conditions. A buffer thus implies a moderator hypothesis; the buffer moderates the
association between strain and outcome. Overall, research findings are very much in line
with the resource hypothesis and do not support the buffer hypothesis. The just world
belief should thus be seen as personal resource helping to sustain the well-being of people
of all ages in diverse situations, victims and non-victims alike.
Conclusion
Just world research has shown that people need to believe in justice, and that they
strive for justice in order to maintain their basic belief in a just world (e.g., Lerner &
Miller, 1978). This justice motive is reflected by an interindividually varying belief in just
world and this disposition explains the differences in people’s striving for justice as an
end in itself, including their own behavior and assimilation of observed or experienced
injustices. In return, the justice motive endows trust in the justice of the world and in
being treated justly by others.
The basic idea of the just world hypothesis is that people confronted with
injustices suffer and feel the unconscious need to restore justice (e.g., Lerner & Simmons,
1966). As a consequence, the belief in a just world particularly impacts intuitive
justice-driven reactions such as, for example, the assimilation of injustice. Thus, research
suggests that the belief in a just world is an essential but unconscious source of responses
to injustice, in line with the role of other implicit human motives (McClelland et al.,
1989). Justice motive theory (Dalbert, 2001) thus interprets the belief in a just world as
16
indicating an implicit justice motive. Lerner and Goldberg (1999) argue that conscious
and intuitive justice-driven reactions co-exist, and may be elicited simultaneously in the
same situation. The belief in a just world seems to operate on an unconscious level and
can thus be expected to better explain intuitive than conscious reactions to injustice
(Dalbert, 2001). Important challenges for future research on the just world construct
include integrating just world research within such a broader framework of human
motives and differentiating between the explanation of more controlled versus more
intuitive justice-driven reactions in the light of just world reasoning.
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... In the current study, we focused on the personal BJW due to several theoretical reasons. Most importantly, just-world researchers have argued that personal BJW is a better indicator of the justice motive and a better predictor of adaptive outcomes such as appropriate social behavior (helping, avoiding aggression) and well-being, especially among school students (Correia & Dalbert, 2008;Dalbert & Donat, 2015;Hafer & Sutton, 2016). As we aimed to investigate students' experiences with bullying behavior, it seems that their personal BJW might be a more important psychological resource than their general BJW. . ...
... Accordingly, findings from just-world research support the idea that personal BJW represents a significant psychological resource that serves important adaptive functions. When people are confronted with injustice and adverse circumstances, the assimilation function of personal BJW (Dalbert, 2001; see Dalbert & Donat, 2015 for a review) helps them preserve personal BJW and mental health by restoring justice psychologically, for example, by minimizing or denying the injustice (Lipkus & Siegler, 1993), avoiding self-focused rumination (Dalbert, 1997), or forgiving (Strelan, 2007). According to the motive function (Dalbert, 2001;Dalbert & Donat, 2015), people with a strong BJW are motivated to strive for justice for its own sake and maintain a just world by achieving personal goals by just means. ...
... When people are confronted with injustice and adverse circumstances, the assimilation function of personal BJW (Dalbert, 2001; see Dalbert & Donat, 2015 for a review) helps them preserve personal BJW and mental health by restoring justice psychologically, for example, by minimizing or denying the injustice (Lipkus & Siegler, 1993), avoiding self-focused rumination (Dalbert, 1997), or forgiving (Strelan, 2007). According to the motive function (Dalbert, 2001;Dalbert & Donat, 2015), people with a strong BJW are motivated to strive for justice for its own sake and maintain a just world by achieving personal goals by just means. The BJW involves a personal contract and the obligation to behave justly, and strong just-world believers are confident that such behavior will be justly rewarded in the perpetrator. ...
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Bullying is a serious problem around the world, especially among adolescents. Evidence exists that low levels of social perspective-taking as well as belief in a just world played an important role in bullying. Both dispositions function as psychological resources that may help students behave appropriately in social life. Previous research identified distinct bullying roles such as perpetrator, victim, assistant, reinforcer, defender, and bystander experiences. Although this participant-role approach has been extensively investigated in the last years, a simultaneous examination of students’ perspective-taking and belief in a just world in relation to their experiences in these roles is still missing. This study’s objective was to examine a differential approach of school students’ visuospatial and dispositional social perspective-taking, emotional concern, and personal belief in a just world in relation to their experiences in bullying roles. We tested these relations in a sample of n = 1309 adolescents (50.6% female, Mage = 13.73, SDage = 0.85) from 38 schools in Germany. The results from a latent structural-equation model suggested that experiences as a perpetrator, assistant, reinforcer but also as defender related to low visuospatial social perspective-taking. Emotional concern was positively related to defender experiences. Personal belief in a just world was negatively associated with experiences as a perpetrator and a victim. The results underline the importance of disentangling concurrent contributions of perspective-taking and belief in a just world related to the bullying roles. We conclude that adolescents’ visuospatial social perspective taking seems to be a further mental resource against antisocial behavior in bullying.
... Thus, this belief serves significant adaptive functions. Three of these functions (e.g., Dalbert, 2001; for a review, see also Dalbert & Donat, 2015) have been intensively investigated in recent research (Kiral Ucar et al., 2019). ...
... Here, BJW indicates a personal contract (Lerner, 1980) in which people strive to behave justly towards others and such behavior, they believe, will be rewarded in the future (Dalbert, 2001;Lerner, 1977). This contains, for example, people's motivation to achieve personal goals by just means and to avoid unjust behavior which would mean a breach of the personal contract (for a review, see Dalbert & Donat, 2015). This is also in line with the above-mentioned model of the prosocial personality (Bierhoff, 2002(Bierhoff, , 2010 that includes BJW as a proximal attribute. ...
... This is also in line with the above-mentioned model of the prosocial personality (Bierhoff, 2002(Bierhoff, , 2010 that includes BJW as a proximal attribute. In this sense, BJW was associated with less rule-breaking behavior, academic dishonesty, and delinquent behavior in adolescents and young adults (for a review, see Dalbert & Donat, 2015;Donat et al., 2014;Münscher et al., 2020). By extension, school students with a strong BJW were more likely to avoid offline and cyber-bullying behavior than others (Correia & Dalbert, 2008;Donat et al., 2012Donat et al., , 2018aDonat et al., , 2020. ...
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The aim of this study was to investigate concurrent relations of belief in a just world (BJW), justice experiences, and empathy to cyber-bullying perpetration and victimization. Our theoretical framework contained a distinction between personal and general BJW and between affective and cognitive empathy. Due to theory and recent research, we expected students' BJW, lecturer and fellow student justice, and empathy to relate negatively to cyber-bullying perpetration. Furthermore, BJW and academic justice experiences are also expected to negatively relate to cyber-bullying victimization. In order to test our hypotheses, we conducted a cross-sectional questionnaire study with N = 663 German university students (M age = 22.6, SD age = 3.5; 68% female). Gender, internet use, and social desirability were considered as control variables. A structural equation model showed that students' personal BJW, academic justice experiences, and both empathy dimensions but not general BJW negatively related to cyber-bullying perpetration. Additionally, students' personal BJW and academic justice experiences but not general BJW or empathy were associated with cyber-bullying victimization. Male students and those with a low social desirability were more likely to report cyber-bullying perpetration and victimization. Altogether, not only university students' personal BJW and empathy but also their academic justice experiences related to cyber-bullying perpetration or victimization. Thus, researchers should develop strategies aiming to prevent or reduce cyber-bullying. Those should simultaneously foster students' personal BJW and empathy as well as an academic environment characterized by just behavior of lecturers and students. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s12144-022-03239-z.
... Personal BJW refers to the belief that one's own life is just, whereas general BJW reflects the belief that the world is a just place broadly (Dalbert, 1999). Personal BJW has been more strongly associated with adaptive outcomes than general BJW (for recent reviews see Bartholomaeus & Strelan, 2019;Dalbert & Donat, 2015). The personal BJW's protector characteristic for well-being has been documented in many different samples and circumstances, for example, victims of disasters (Otto et al., 2006) or other injustices (e.g., Dzuka & Dalbert, 2007), employed (Nudelman et al., 2016) or unemployed samples (Otto et al., 2009), school students (e.g., Correia & Dalbert, 2007), university students (e.g., Münscher et al., 2020), and elderly samples (e.g., Dzuka & Dalbert, 2006). ...
... A strong BJW also enables individuals to trust that they will not fall victim to an unfortunate life event. Thus, they perceive lower levels of risk (Dalbert, 2001;Dalbert & Donat, 2015). Lambert et al. (1999) were the first to examine the hypothesis that individuals with a strong BJW perceive lower levels of risk than individuals with a lower BJW. ...
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The purpose of this study was to understand the complex relationships between belief in a just world (BJW), perceived control, perceived risk to self and others, and hopelessness among a globally diverse sample during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The just-world hypothesis suggests that people need to believe in a just world in which they get what they deserve and deserve what they get. Studies have shown that believing in a just world has an adaptive function for individuals. Samples from six countries completed an online questionnaire. A total of 1,250 people participated (934 female) and ages ranged from 16 to 84 years old (M = 36.3, SD = 15.5). The results showed that, when controlling for gender, age, country of residence, and being in a risk group for COVID-19 (e.g., smoker, old age, chronic disease etc.), a stronger personal and general BJW and higher perceived control over the COVID-19 pandemic predicted lower levels of hopelessness. How at-risk participants perceived themselves to be for COVID-19 positively predicted hopelessness, but how risky participants perceived the disease to be for others negatively predicted hopelessness. This study highlights how the distinction between self and others influences hopelessness and how BJW, especially personal BJW, can serve as a psychological resource during times of historic uncertainty. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s12144-022-03172-1.
... The establishment of friendship can shape the values and behaviors of teenagers (Brechwald & Prinstein, 2011; Yuehua Zhu served as the co-first author. Dalbert & Donat, 2015;Laible et al., 2000;Ojanen et al., 2013), strengthen the cooperation, sharing and trust among peers (Gollwitzer & Prooijen, 2016), increase the ability of teenagers to adapt to society (Rueger et al., 2016;Yang et al., 2016), and reduce social anxiety (Cavanaugh & Buehler, 2016;Rubin et al., 2010;Zalk & Zalk, 2015) and the incidence of depression (Cole et al., 2016). In the process of communication, individuals have more opportunities for emotional expression and regulation, and so adolescents experience support and understanding (Rubin et al., 2009;Yang et al., 2016); in addition, friendship can alleviate the impact of negative experiences on adolescents' social adaptation outcomes (Rueger et al., 2016). ...
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A number of studies have examined the association between parent‒child conflict and the friendship quality of students, while few studies have investigated whether factors such as psychological resilience can protect against these conditions among this population. A total of 662 Chinese adolescents completed a survey assessing parent‒child conflict, friendship quality and resilience based on the conflict dimension of the Family Environment Scale, the Friendship Quality Questionnaire, and the Chinese version of the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale. The results showed that the total friendship quality score of adolescents was above average and that girls had higher friendship quality than boys. The moderately above average resilience of Chinese adolescents was also shown in the study, and there were no significant differences in terms of gender. There was a negative association between parent‒child conflict and adolescents’ friendship quality. Individuals’ resilience exhibited a strong association with their friendship quality. In addition, resilience played a fully mediating role between parent‒child conflict and friendship quality. These results suggest that interventions intended to bolster psychological resilience may help reduce the severity of parent‒child conflict among adolescents.
... The fact that individuals who endorse internal explanations for fortunes tend to see the rich in a positive light, while advantages arising from family wealth are much less socially accepted is explained in the literature by the dominance of meritocracy as an ideology that favors earned over unearned advantage (Kluegel and Smith 1986). Meritocracy conveys a number of interrelated ideas that are found to convince members of a society that their social position is deserved and to help maintain their confidence that they live in a "just world" (Dalbert and Donat 2015): people should be rewarded in terms of status-financial or otherwise-according to some deserving attributes. Rewards may be unequal, but that is to be accepted as long as individuals get what they deserve. ...
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This article addresses two questions. First, when do people consider the rich to be deserving? A literature survey reveals that it is first and foremost the origin of great wealth that determine public attitudes towards the rich. Rich people "deserve" to be rich if their wealth is perceived as having resulted from competence and hard work rather than from inheritance. Second, who are the rich? Drawing on data from the second wave of the European Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS), it is found that multimillionaire households benefit disproportionately from wealth transfers. Large gifts and bequests alone, however, are not good predictors of rich household status. It is rather the highly educated top heir running a (family) business that best represents the rich in Europe. Such entrepreneurs who benefit from earned and unearned financial resources neither fully correspond to nor contradict the existing public beliefs in the "deservingness" of the rich. It is argued that, while still underresearched, it is the "hybrid rich" that dominate in the twenty-first-century capitalism that is marked by historically high levels of wealth inequality alongside inefficiencies in tax systems.
... Konseptualisasi just world belief diungkapkan oleh Dalbert sebagai teori kepercayaan akan dunia yang adil. Dalbert & Donat (2015) menjelaskan bahwa orang perlu percaya bahwa mereka hidup di dunia di mana setiap orang mendapatkan apa yang pantas mereka dapatkan dan layak mendapatkan apa yang sudah mereka dapati. Keyakinan akan keadilan ini dunia dikonseptualisasikan sebagai disposisi antar individu yang bervariasi dan memiliki fungsi adaptif. ...
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ABSTRAKThe love relationship as an individual's interest in socializing is the first step in the relationship before going to the legal relationship stage. A love relationship or dating is an individual's effort to find a soul mate and partner for marriage. However, the phenomenon that occurs in many love relationships does not end in a serious bond or marriage and instead breaks up. The Javanese phenomenon that a soul mate will meet is in line with the concept of just-world belief. Everyone has faith through love relationships to get a partner as the world is fair to their efforts to find a partner. The purpose of this study was to determine the level of belief that the world is fair for individuals who are in a love relationship and to see if there are differences in the belief that the world is fair for men and women. The research subjects were UIN Malang students. This study uses descriptive quantitative methods and tests the differences between men and women with the T-test. Respondents consisted of 190 UIN Malang students based on purposive sampling technique with the criteria being in a love relationship and aged 19-24 years. The research instrument uses a just world belief scale which is adapted from Lerner's theory. The results showed that the level of just-world belief of students was moderate, and there was no difference between just world belief of men and women so that men and women had the same opportunity to believe in a just world. The implication of this research is that there is a value of justice for men and women in their love relationship so that each partner treats their lover well and fairly because the consequences of doing good will also lead to goodness in the future. The next implication of just-world belief is to strengthen satisfaction in love relationships for consideration of their partner as a mate.KEYWORDS Just World Belief; Love Relationship; Student; MateABSTRAKHubungan cinta sebagai ketertarikan individu dalam bersosial menjadi langkah awal relasi sebelum ke tahap hubungan resmi. Hubungan cinta atau berpacaran adalah upaya individu menemukan jodoh dan pasangan untuk pernikahan. Namun fenomena yang terjadi banyak hubungan cinta itu tidak berakhir pada ikatan yang serius atau pernikahan dan justru putus. Fenomena orang Jawa bahwa jodoh akan bertemu selaras dengan konsep just world belief. Setiap orang memiliki keyakinan melalui hubungan cinta untuk mendapatkan pasangan sebagaimana dunia yang adil terhadap usahanya mencari pasangan. Tujuan penelitian ini adalah mengetahui tingkat keyakinan dunia adil bagi individu yang sedang menjalani hubungan cinta dan melihat adakah perbedaan kepercayaan dunia adil bagi laki-laki dan perempuan. Subjek penelitian adalah mahasiwa UIN Malang. Penelitian ini menggunakan metode kuantitatif deskriptif dan uji perbedaan antara laki-laki dan perempuan dengan T test. Responden terdiri dari 190 mahasiswa UIN Malang berdasarkan teknik purposive sampling dengan kriteria sedang menjalin hubungan cinta dan berumur 19-24 tahun. Instrumen penelitian menggunakan just world belief scale yang diadaptasi dari teori Lerner. Hasil penelitian menunjukkan bahwa tingkat just world belief mahasiwa sedang, dan tidak terdapat perbedaan antara just world belief laki-laki dan perempuan sehingga laki-laki dan perempuan berpeluang sama terhadap keyakinan dunia yang adil. Implikasi adanya riset ini adalah adanya nilai keadilan bagi laki-laki dan perempuan dalam menjalani hubungan cintanya sehingga masing-masing pasangan memperlakukan kekasihnya dengan baik dan adil karena konsekuensi adanya kebaikan yang diperbuat akan memunculkan kebaikan pula di masa mendatang. Implikasi just world belief selanjutnya adalah memperkuat kepuasan dalam relasi cinta untuk pertimbangan pasangannya sebagai jodoh.KATA KUNCIJust World Belief; Hubungan Cinta; Mahasiswa; Jodoh
... In particular, derogating victims of injustices is a way to restore consistency and to preserve justworld beliefs. There is an extensive literature on this topic (Dalbert & Donat, 2015;Furnham, 2003;Hafer & Sutton, 2016). ...
... Starting points for a relationship between procrastination and PBJW can be derived from empirical evidence. In principle, PBJW functions as an adaptive resource in various demanding situations 11,17,23,[68][69][70][71] . For example, students with higher PBJW are less likely to skip school, report lower test anxiety, and report fewer negative emotions than students with low PBJW 10 . ...
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Is the belief in a just world among students also stable under COVID-19? To answer this question, a study was conducted with university students from Germany (n = 291). The aim of the study was to analyze the predictive performance of the personal belief in a just world (PBJW) on students' life satisfaction and academic cheating and to take into account important mediators from the university context such as fellow student justice, lecturer justice, and procrastination. Derived from existing research, university students with a stronger PBJW should be more satisfied with their lives and cheat less than those with a weaker PBJW. The results support the hypothesized direct effects of PBJW on life satisfaction. Procrastination additionally mediated the effect of PBJW on life satisfaction. The level of PBJW predicted academic cheating only indirectly. The mediators procrastination and lecturer justice were crucial here. The results persisted when gender, learning, time to exam, socially desirable responding, general BJW, and self-efficacy were controlled. The findings were discussed in relation to the stressful situation caused by COVID-19. A reflection on the adaptive function of PBJW as a resource and relevant situation-specific mediators for university research and practice followed.
... Consistent with existing research (Otto and Dalbert, 2005), although students in the pandemic may feel a stronger sense of relative deprivation, this study found that belief in a just world can serve as a personal resource for maintaining mental health. Belief in a just world appears to act as a psychological resource through its assimilation and trust functions (Dalbert and Stoeber, 2006;Dalbert and Donat, 2015). Due to these functions, people with a high belief in a just world level spend less energy on defensive behavior, and, as a result, are less anxious and healthier than those with weak belief in a just world. ...
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With the COVID-19 pandemic, life satisfaction among college students has become a key issue at universities and in society. The current study explores the effects of belief in a just world and resilience on the relationship between relative deprivation and life satisfaction. A total of 787 college students from universities in China completed online questionnaires. Results showed that relative deprivation was negatively correlated with life satisfaction. Belief in a just world and resilience separately mediated the relationship between relative deprivation and life satisfaction. Moreover, a serial mediating effect of belief in a just world and resilience was observed between relative deprivation and life satisfaction. These findings suggest that relative deprivation may impair individuals' beliefs in a just world. Moreover, less belief in a just world may lower resilience and consequently decrease life satisfaction. This study enriches the research field of relative deprivation theory in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and provides a new interpretation and intervention perspective for improving college students' life satisfaction.
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تسعى الدراسة الحالية إلى معرفة طبيعة العلاقة بين الاعتقاد بعدالة العالم وسلوك المواطنة، وإمكانية توسط العدالة الاجتماعية بينهما، وذلك باستخدام عينة من الكويتيين وغير محددي الجنسية. وتهدف كذلك إلى معرفة ما إذا كانت هناك فروق بينهما في متغيرات الدراسة. المنهج: تصميم الدراسة ارتباطي وسببي مقارن. تكونت عينة الدراسة من 200 فرد (100 كويتي، و100 غير محددي الجنسية). وكان عدد الذكور والإناث متساويا بينهما، بمتوسط عمري 30.88 (ع = 9.27). كما طبقت ثلاثة مقاييس عن بعد، هي: مقياس الاعتقاد العالمي بعدالة العالم (ألفا 0.78 )، ومقياس العدالة الاجتماعية (ألفا 0.89)، ومقياس سلوك المواطنة (ألفا 0.95). النتائج: أظهرت النتائج وجود علاقة ارتباطية موجبة دالة إحصائيا بين الاعتقاد بعدالة العالم وسلوك المواطنة، وبين العدالة الاجتماعية وسلوك المواطنة. وعدم توسط العدالة الاجتماعية بينهما. كما دلت على أن متوسط الكويتيين في اعتقادهم بعدالة العالم أعلى من متوسط غير محددي الجنسية، وأن متوسط غير محددي الجنسية في العدالة الاجتماعية أعلى من متوسط الكويتيين، بينما لا توجد فروق دالة بينهما في سلوك المواطنة. الخلاصة: قد تساعد نتائج هذه الدراسة متخذ القرار على فهم العدالة من زاويتها النفسية والاجتماعية، بما يمكنه من التعامل الموضوعي مع المشكلات المرتبطة بها، خاصة وأن الشعور بعدم العدالة يرتبط بانخفاض سلوك المواطنة، وما يترتب على ذلك من انخفاض في الولاء والأداء.
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The more people believe in a just world (BJW) in which they get what they deserve, the more they are motivated to preserve a just world by ones’ just behavior. Consequently, we expected school students with a strong BJW to show less deviant behavior as cheating or delinquency. The mediating role of teacher justice was also examined. Questionnaire data were obtained from a total of N=382 German and Indian high school students. Regression analyses revealed that the stronger students’ BJW was, the less cheating and delinquent behavior they reported. Moreover, the more the students believed in a just world, the more they evaluated their teachers’ behavior toward them personally to be just, and the experience of teacher justice fully mediated the relation between BJW and cheating and delinquency, respectively. This pattern of results was in line with our hypotheses and consistent across different cultural contexts. It persisted when neuroticism and sex were controlled. The adaptive functions of BJW and implications for future school research are discussed.
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The author hypothesized that the less one focuses on long-term goals, or the less one plans to achieve goals through just means, the less essential is the belief in a just world (BJW) and the less one will work at maintaining this belief when it is threatened. In Studies 1 and 2, participants’ focus on long-term investments was either manipulated or measured, and their reactions to a victim who presented a high or low threat to the BJW were assessed. In Study 2, the tendency to obtain goals through unjust means (delinquency) also was measured. As predicted, strong long-term focus and low-delinquency participants reacted more negatively toward the high-threat victim, presumably to maintain the BJW. Study 3 showed that the more one focuses on long-term investments and the less one uses unjust means, the stronger one’s BJW.
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Wenn von Schulerfolg die Rede ist, so kann ganz Unterschiedliches wie die individuelle SchülerInnenleistung, fachspezifisches Wissen oder allgemeine Fähigkeiten gemeint sein. Diese Aspekte können wiederum auf unterschiedliche Art und Weise, zum Beispiel mit Hilfe pädagogisch-psychologischer Testverfahren oder durch LehrerInnenurteile, erfasst werden (Helmke & Schrader, 2001). In der Regel sind aber unter dem Stichwort Schulerfolg die Zensuren der SchülerInnen gemeint.
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This research studies people’s reactions to the suffering of victims, examining the hypothesis of the belief in a just world (BJW) (Lerner, 1980) according to which the awareness of innocent victims threatens people’s BJW, and extending the scope of BJW theory to intergroup contexts. An implicit measure of the threat to the BJW (Hafer, 2000a) is used in this research. After participants viewed a videotaped film containing the victimization story they performed an emotional modified Stroop task. Study 1 examined the threat to the BJW as function of the innocence of the victim at an interpersonal level of analysis. Results show that only the innocent victim threatens the observer’s BJW. Study 2 examined the threat to the BJW as function of the victim’s group and of the victim’s innocence. Results show that an ingroup victim threatens the participant’s BJW more than a victim belonging to an outgroup.
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In three studies, we tested the hypothesis that the belief in a just and an unjust world are distinct constructs. The two-factor model was supported through the use of structural equation modeling and the pattern of correlations with religiosity, well-being, and political ideology. Specifically, only the belief in a just world correlated positively with religiosity, three indicators of well being (life satisfaction, mood level, and affect), and preferring a well-established political party. A comparison between prisoners and guards revealed further differences. Prisoners endorsed more strongly the belief in an unjust world, but both guards and prisoners equally endorsed the belief in a just world. We discuss the differences between the belief in a just and an unjust world, and the implications of believing in an unjust world for social behavior.