Individual Differences in the Belief in a Just World and Responses to Personal Misfortune

  • Carolyn L. Hafer
  • James M. Olson
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (CISJ)

Abstract

According to just world theory (Lerner, 1977, 1980; Lerner, Miller, & Holmes, 1976), people have a basic need to believe that the world is a just place—a place where individuals get what they deserve and deserve what they get. The belief in a just world provides an explanation for people’s responses to the suffering of others, especially their tendency to blame innocent victims for their fate (see Lerner & Miller, 1978, for a review). Rubin and Peplau (1975) proposed that individuals differ in the extent to which they actually believe the world is a just place. Studies investigating the relationship between individual differences in just world beliefs and attitudes toward suffering generally show that strong believers in a just world have a greater tendency to blame victims for their misfortune and a greater acceptance of general social inequalities than do weak believers (e.g., Clyman, Roth, Sniderman, & Charrier, 1980; Dalbert, Fisch, & Montada, 1992; Furnham, 1985; Furnham & Gunter, 1984; Glennon & Joseph, 1993; Smith, 1985; Wagstaff, 1983; Zuckerman, Gerbasi, Kravitz, & Wheeler, 1975; see Furnham & Procter, 1989, for a review).

Keywords

Emotional Response Strong Belief Relative Deprivation Choice Condition Poor Grade 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolyn L. Hafer
    • 1
  • James M. Olson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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