, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 278-296
Date: 15 Sep 2011

Are Just-World Beliefs Compatible with Justifying Inequality? Collective Political Efficacy as a Moderator

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Abstract

Previous research demonstrates that the belief in a just world is often accompanied by the justification of social inequality and by low socio-political participation (e.g., Jost and Hunyady, Curr Direct Psychol Sci 14:260–265, 2005). However, studies provide evidence that the relations may be moderated by individual differences such as a person’s self-efficacy expectations to promote justice and equality (Mohiyeddini and Montada, Responses to victimization and belief in a just world, 1998). At the societal level, collective political efficacy has consistently been found to foster political participation (cf. Lee, Int J Public Opin Res 22:392–411, 2010). In our study, we tested whether collective political efficacy may attenuate the negative social impact of the belief in a just world: It is predicted that when collective political efficacy is low, a strong belief in a just world would increase the motivation to justify inequality. By contrast, when collective political efficacy is high, the belief in a just world would not increase, but potentially decrease the motivation to justify inequality. In turn, justification of inequality is expected to negatively affect socio-political participation. Data from 150 university students were analyzed using moderated structural equation modeling. In our study, the expected moderating effect of collective political efficacy on the relation between belief in a just world and justification of inequality was established empirically. When collective political efficacy was high, justification of inequality did not inevitably increase with the belief in a just world. In addition, the impact of belief in a just world on justice-promoting behavior was mediated by justification of inequality. Implications for theory and future research are discussed.