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Eight Stages in the Development of Research on the Construct of Belief in a Just World?

  • Jürgen Maes
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (CISJ)

Abstract

Thirty years ago, Melvin Lerner published his first article on the construct of Belief in a Just World. He had conducted an experiment on subjects’ evaluations of two men being rewarded by chance for working on a task. Regardless of the stimulus persons’ performance, and regardless of the subjects’ sympathy for one of the two stimulus persons, their evaluations were more positive for the one who had been accidentally rewarded. They seemed to convince themselves that he had deserved the chance outcome. Lerner therefore suggested a basic need to believe that the world is just. In the following years, he conducted additional experiments to clarify and elucidate this phenomenon (cf. Lerner & Simmons, 1966; Lerner, 1971). Since then, in more than two hundred published studies Lerner’s assumptions on people’s need to believe in a just world have been tested. The present article is a historical one, resuming thirty years of just world research (1965–1995). In the same moment it is examined whether the history of research on the construct can be adequately described by a typical developmental pattern proposed by Furnham (1990, see also Furnham’s chapter in this volume).

Keywords

Social Psychology Experimental Social Psychology Rape Victim Prison Inmate Stimulus Person 
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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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jürgen Maes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TrierTrierGermany

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