Social Justice Research

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 272–300 | Cite as

Ecological Belief in a Just World

  • Monika BaierEmail author
  • Elisabeth Kals
  • Markus M. Müller


To date, there is considerable evidence that the perception of injustice influences environmental behavior in a positive way. Nevertheless, some people do not take action, even if the injustice seems obvious. Concerning this matter, approaches like the belief in a just world theory or system justification theory provide an explanation. However, so far, there is no scientific research on whether the perception of ecological justice, which is taken for granted, concerning an ecological belief in a just world (EBJW) may lead to differences in people’s environmental behavior. This paper investigates a newly conceived construct of the EBJW, regarding its occurrence as well as its disposition in the context of other constructs. Therefore, a new scale has been developed for the purpose of this study by means of a questionnaire with German citizens (n = 312) examining motives for energy-relevant behavior. The scale analyses confirm the validity of the new scale. Even though the EBJW did not score high in the total sample, possibly due to significant differences between the participants (particularly socio-demographic variables and different group memberships) it can be stated that there is definitely a relationship between the EBJW and justification arguments and, ultimately, a lack of responsibility for energy saving. Regression analyses reveal that the EBJW, together with cognitive and affective appraisals of justice, can explain energy-relevant commitment, such as engagement in behavior that has negative impact on the climate. Based on these findings, it is suggested that the EBJW is measurable and that it seems to warrant further research.


Environmental justice Ecological justice Belief in a just world/ecological just world System justification Energy-relevant behavior 



The authors are grateful to Jonas Bodensohn, Kathleen Stewart and Carolin Hammwöhner for their support and assistance in preparing the manuscript. The present research was supported by a Grant from the Foundation of the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, awarded in connection with the fellowship in the post graduate program “sustainability in economy, environment, and society” at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monika Baier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elisabeth Kals
    • 1
  • Markus M. Müller
    • 1
  1. 1.Social- and Organizational PsychologyCatholic University of Eichstätt-IngolstadtEichstättGermany

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