Social Justice Research

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 257–272

The perceived relationship between the belief in a just world and sociopolitical ideology

  • Helga Dittmar
  • Julie Dickinson

DOI: 10.1007/BF01054461

Cite this article as:
Dittmar, H. & Dickinson, J. Soc Just Res (1993) 6: 257. doi:10.1007/BF01054461


Lerner (1977, 1980) located the origins of the “belief in a just world” (BJW) in both individual motivational needs and social learning. To address the lack of subsequent research or discussion on possible social origins of the BJW, this paper investigates the social meaning of the BJW in the context of sociopolitical ideology. 173 participants, who defined themselves as politically right-wing, moderate/liberal, or left-wing, completed the BJW scale (Rubin and Peplau, 1975) twice, once from their own viewpoint and once from the perspective of either a right-wing or a left-wing person. Participants differed in their own BJW according to their political beliefs, but were able at the same time to predict consensually another person's just world beliefs on the basis of a political label, independently of their own political orientation. These findings clearly demonstrate social aspects of the belief in a just world and therefore raise the possibility of a normative, socially constructed basis for it.

Key words

just world beliefs sociopolitical ideology 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helga Dittmar
    • 2
  • Julie Dickinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Birkbeck CollegeLondonEngland
  2. 2.Psychology Division, Social Sciences (Arts E)University of SussexFalmer, BrightonEngland

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