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Cultural tightness, neuroticism, belief in a just world for self, gender, and subjective well-being: A moderated mediation model

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Although substantial research has documented the importance of belief in a just world for self (BJW-self) for subjective well-being (SWB), little is known about the individual characteristics that serve as antecedents of BJW-self. This article delineates how individual differences in perceived cultural tightness (PCT) and neuroticism may account for differences in BJW-self and how gender moderates this relationship. We proposed a moderated mediation model wherein the indirect relationships of PCT and neuroticism with SWB through BJW-self change depending on gender. Data were collected from 296 South Korean university students using an online survey at two time points about four days apart. As predicted, the results showed that for male participants, only PCT had a significant relationship with BJW-self, which in turn had a relationship with SWB. In addition, for female participants, only neuroticism was significantly associated with SWB via BJW-self. Overall, these findings extend research on belief in a just world by identifying individual characteristics that account for variance in BJW-self associated with SWB.
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Current Psychology (2022) 41:8300–8311
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-022-03652-4
importance of distinguishing between BJW-self and BJW-
general (Bègue & Bastounis, 2003; Lucas et al., 2013; Otto
et al., 2006; Sutton & Douglas, 2005). This is because BJW-
self is closely and personally related to one’s own experi-
ences in real life, which will strongly inuence one’s sense
of competence and control as well as their expectation for a
positive future, all of which help maintain SWB (Hoolihan
& Thomas, 2020). Consistently, research has demonstrated
that compared to individuals with low BJW-self, individu-
als with high BJW-self have less anxiety, depression and
negative aect, and experience more positive aect and
life satisfaction (e.g., see Bartholomaeus & Strelan, 2019
for review; Correia et al., 2009; Dalbert & Stoeber 2005;
Otto et al., 2006; Sutton & Douglas, 2005). For example,
Sutton et al. (2017) found that students with high BJW-self
showed signicantly higher SWB than those with low BJW-
self. In addition, in a one-year longitudinal study with a
large sample of working adults, Johnston et al. (2016) found
that BJW-self has benecial eects on maintaining SWB at
work.
Given the evidence on the association between BJW-
self and SWB, an important research question concerns
what accounts for individual dierences in BJW-self that
aects SWB, because relatively little empirical research
Introduction
Since Rubin and Peplau (1973, 1975) rst introduced their
scale to capture individual dierences in belief in a just
world, numerous researchers have demonstrated that belief
in a just world (BJW)—or the tendency to which an indi-
vidual views the world as a just place—plays an important
role in various life domains, including mental health, proso-
cial behaviors, commitment to long-term goals, aggression,
revenge and victimization (e.g., Correia & Dalbert, 2007;
Hafer & Sutton, 2016; Kaiser et al., 2004; Laurin et al.,
2011; Nartova-Bochaver et al., 2019). Concerning the rela-
tionship between individual dierences in BJW and subjec-
tive well-being (SWB), prior BJW research has suggested
that a belief that one’s own world is just (BJW-self) serves
as an adaptive personal resource over a belief that the world
is just for people generally (BJW-general), emphasizing the
Sunyoung Oh
sunyoungoh@kyonggi.ac.kr
1 Department of Vocational Studies, Kyonggi University, 24
Kyonggidae-ro 9-gil, Chungjeongno 2-ga, Seodaemun-gu,
Seoul , South Korea
Abstract
Although substantial research has documented the importance of belief in a just world for self (BJW-self) for subjective
well-being (SWB), little is known about the individual characteristics that serve as antecedents of BJW-self. This article
delineates how individual dierences in perceived cultural tightness (PCT) and neuroticism may account for dierences
in BJW-self and how gender moderates this relationship. We proposed a moderated mediation model wherein the indirect
relationships of PCT and neuroticism with SWB through BJW-self change depending on gender. Data were collected
from 296 South Korean university students using an online survey at two time points about four days apart. As predicted,
the results showed that for male participants, only PCT had a signicant relationship with BJW-self, which in turn had a
relationship with SWB. In addition, for female participants, only neuroticism was signicantly associated with SWB via
BJW-self. Overall, these ndings extend research on belief in a just world by identifying individual characteristics that
account for variance in BJW-self associated with SWB.
Keywords Culture tightness · Social norms · Beliefs in a just world · Justice · Well-being
Accepted: 15 August 2022 / Published online: 26 September 2022
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2022
Cultural tightness, neuroticism, belief in a just world for self, gender,
and subjective well-being: A moderated mediation model
SunyoungOh1
1 3
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
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