Social categories, just world belief, locus of control, and causal attributions of occupational accidents
- Cite this article as:
- Steensma, H., den Hartigh, E. & Lucardie, E. Soc Just Res (1994) 7: 281. doi:10.1007/BF02334835
Workers (N=34), managers (N=35) and safety inspectors (N=33) read descriptions of an occupational accident. In one condition, the accident had serious consequences, in the second condition consequences were less severe. Social category has an effect on the attribution of responsibility for the accident. Safety inspectors seem inclined to attribute responsibility to the organization whereas managers attribute the lowest level of responsibility to the organization. A forced-choice method of attributing responsibility shows that seriousness of consequences is important, but only for the workers. If consequences are not very serious, workers do not bother much about who is to blame; but in the case of a serious accident, most workers attribute responsibility to the organization. Locus of control orientation plays a minor role: There is a tendency for “internals” to attribute responsibility to the victim. also, an internal locus of control orientation varies along with the belief that subjects would have acted differently from the victim. The hypothesis that people who strongly believe in a just world attribute most responsibility to the victim was not supported. The hypothesis that people with a high just world belief feel least sympathy for the victim could be accepted. Strength of just world belief correlates negatively with the internal locus of control orientation. Finally, the ad hoc hypothesis that workers have higher standards for fair disability benefits than do managers had to be rejected. Safety inspectors want to pay much less money than do managers and workers. Results are discussed in light of notions from theories on attribution, just world belief, locus of control orientation, and social construction of reality.