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Social Justice Research

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 433–456 | Cite as

The Consequences of Victim Physical Attractiveness on Reactions to Injustice: The Role of Observers’ Belief in a Just World

  • Mitchell J. Callan
  • Nathaniel G. Powell
  • John H. Ellard
Article

Abstract

Two studies explored Dion and Dion’s (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 775–780, 1987) suggestion that the belief in a just world may contribute to the “beauty is good” stereotype. In Study 1, we found that participants rated the death of a woman as more tragic and unfair when she was physically attractive than less attractive. Participants were also more punitive towards agents of harm when the victim was physically attractive. In Study 2, we varied the extent to which a woman suffered from a house fire and asked participants to later recognize the woman’s picture among several choices varying in physical attractiveness. Participants who learned that the woman suffered a great deal remembered her to be less physically attractive than when her suffering was minimal. The results are discussed in terms of how the justice motive contributes to the evaluative and moral importance attached to physical attractiveness.

Keywords

Physical attractiveness Belief in a just world Punishment reactions Victim derogation Reconstructive memory 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Melvin Lerner and anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on previous drafts of this manuscript. This research was partially funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council doctoral fellowship granted to the first author.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitchell J. Callan
    • 1
  • Nathaniel G. Powell
    • 1
  • John H. Ellard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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