Social Justice Research

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 213–221 | Cite as

The belief in an unjust world: An egotistic delusion

  • Dariusz DolinskiEmail author


The main hypothesis of Lerner's just world theory says that people are inclined to think that their physical and social environment is just and that individuals generally get what they deserve and deserve what they get. Contrary to Lerner's assumption, however, it is suggested in the article that in some situations, people may perceive the world as unjust because such a belief has a specific “ego-defensive” compoment for an individual. It is likely, for instance, that the belief in an unjust world, though in itself a legitimate block to success, may be aggrvated in conditions diagnostic for competence and hence can be used as a special form of self-handicapping strategy. This assumption has been tested in a 2 (low vs. high tendency to engate in self-handicapping behaviors) x by 2 (low vs. high opportunity to use the belief in an unjust world as a self-handicapping strategy) experiment. The results of the study fully supported the author's predictions.

Key words

just world justice self-handicapping strategy egotism self-serving bias 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OpoleOpolePoland

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