The Meaning of the Belief in a Just World

  • Claudia Dalbert
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (CISJ)


Ellen is furious because a colleague has been given the pay raise Ellen felt she in fact deserved. Tom is angry with his wife; although he is the breadwinner with a busy job, his wife accuses him of shirking his child care responsibilities. Many will feel indignation when confronted with the abject living conditions of those existing in the slums of the developing countries. Public opinion will be outraged by a new tax law favoring the rich. These examples serve to illustrate the omnipresence of concerns about justice. Undoubtedly, human beings experience unfairness and the accompanying emotion—anger—on a daily basis and on all levels of life, from everyday inconveniences to fundamental societal problems. But there are great interindividual differences in the reaction to unfairness and the striving for justice. Some people devote a significant part of their lives to promoting justice (e.g., civil rights activists, members of Amnesty International), and others show little or no concern for the underprivileged. Indeed, some people readily break societal rules to maximize their own profits. Theories of psychological justice aim to explain these interindividual differences.


Implicit Motive Positive Illusion Explicit Motive World Belief Unrealistic Optimism 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Dalbert
    • 1
  1. 1.Martin Luther UniversityHalle-WittenbergGermany

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