Skip to main content
Log in

Justice and emotional reactions to the disadvantaged

  • Published:
Social Justice Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Various attitutidinal, cognitive, emotional, and actional reactions to problems and needs of less fortunate people (unemployed, poor people in the developing countries, foreign workers in West Germany) were assessed in a questionnaire study with 865 respondents. The external validity of self-report data was established by external ratings. The focus was on emotional reactions (existential guilt, sympathy, moral outrage because of unjust disadvantages, anger about the disadvantaged, contentment with one's own advantages, fear of losing these, hopelessness with respect to the fate of the less fortunate). Several justice-related variables (beliefs, views, appraisals) as well as responsibility-related variables and social attitudes were assessed as predictors of emotions. The importance of justice-related variables for the arousal of different social emotions was clearly shown. The use and usefulness of cognitive models of discrete emotions is discussed. The impact of emotions on the readiness to various forms of prosocial activities in favor of the less fortunate was also shown: Moral outrage and existential guilt proved to be much more salient predictors than sympathy. Crucial differences between these three prosocial emotions as well as the impact of justice-related variables on readiness to prosocial activities are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Archer, R. L., Diaz-Loving, R., Gollwitzer, P. M., Davis, M. H., and Foushee, H. C. (1981). The role of dispositional empathy and social evaluation in the empathic mediation of helping.J. Pers. Soc. Psychol., 40: 786–796.

    Google Scholar 

  • Averill, J. R. (1983). Studies on anger and aggression. Implications for theories of emotion.Am. Psychol., 38: 1145–1160.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bandura, A., Underwood, B., and Fromson, M. E. (1975). Disinhibition of aggression through diffusion of responsibility and dehumanization.J. Res. Pers., 9: 253–269.

    Google Scholar 

  • Batson, C. D., and Coke, J. S. (1981). Empathy: A source of altruistic motivation for helping. In Rushton, J. P., and Sorrentino, R. M. (eds.),Altruism and Helping Behavior, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ.

    Google Scholar 

  • Batson, C. D., Fultz, J., and Schoenrade, P. A. (1987). Distress and empathy: Two qualitatively distinct vicarious emotions with different motivational consequences.J. Pers., 55: 19–39.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Brandtstädte, J. (1985).Emotion, Kognition, Handlung: Konzeptuelle Beziehungen, Urgan and Schwarzenberg, Munich, West Germany.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dalbert, C., Montada, L., and Schmitt, M. (1987). Glaube an eine gerechte Welt als Motiv: Validierungskorrelate zweier Skalen.Psychol. Beitr. 29: 596–615.

    Google Scholar 

  • de Rivera, J. (1977). A structural theory of the emotions. (InPsychological Issues Vol. 10). International University Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  • Deutsch, M. (1985).Distributive Justice: A Social Psychological Perspective, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.

    Google Scholar 

  • Epstein, S. (1984). Controversial issues in emotion theory. In Shaver, P. (ed.),Review of Personality and Social Psychology, Sage, Beverly Hills, pp. 64–88.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frijda, N. H. (1987). Emotion, cognitive structure, and action tendency.Cognit. Emot. 1: 115–143.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hoffman, M. L. (1976). Empathy, role-taking, guilt, and development of altruistic motives. In Lickona, T. (ed.),Moral Development and Behavior, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, pp. 124–143.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hoffman, M. L. (1982). Development of prosocial motivation: Empathy and guilt. In Eisenberg, N. (ed.),The Development of Prosocial Behavior, Academic Press, New York, pp. 281–313.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hoffman, M. L. (1987). The contribution of empathy to justice and moral judgement. In Eisenberg, N., and Strayer, J. (eds.),Empathy and Its Development, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, pp. 47–80.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ickes, W. J., and Kidd, R. F. (1976). An attributional analysis of helping behavior. In Harvey, D. I., Ickes, W. J., and Kidd, R. F. (eds.),New Directions in Attributional Research, Vol. 1, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 311–334.

    Google Scholar 

  • Isen, A. M. (1970). Success, failure, attention, and reaction to others: The warm glow of success.J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 15: 294–301.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lazarus, R. S., Averill, J. R., and Opton, E. M. (1970). Towards a cognitive theory of emotion. In Arnold, M. B. (eds.),Feelings and Emotions, Academic Press, New York, pp. 207–232.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lerner, M. J. (1977). The justice motive: Some hypotheses as to its origins and forms.J. Pers. 40: 1–32.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lerner, M. J. (1980).The Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion, Plenum Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lerner, M. J., and Whitehead, L. A. (1980). Verfahrensgerechtigkeit aus der Sicht der Gerechtigkeitsmotiv-Theorie. In Mikula, G. (ed.),Gerechtigkeit und Soziale Interaktion, Huber, Bern, Switzerland, pp. 251–300.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lifton, V. J. (1967).Death in Life. Survivors of Hiroshima, Random House, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lück, H. E., and Timaeus, E. (1969). Skalen zur Messung Manifester Angst (MAS) und Sozialer Wünschbarkeit (SDS-E und SDS-CM).Diagnostica 15: 134–141.

    Google Scholar 

  • Meyer, M. P., and Mulherin, A. (1980). From attribution to helping.J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 39: 201–210.

    Google Scholar 

  • Montada, L., and Schneider, A. (1988). Justice and emotional reactions to victims. E. S., Report no. 7. InBerichte aus der Arbeitsgruppe “Verantwortung, Gerechtigkeit, Moral” Nr. 47. Universität Trier, Fb I-Psychologie, Trier, FRG.

    Google Scholar 

  • Montada, L., and Schneider, A. (1989). Coping mit Problemen sozial schwacher Menschen: Annotierte Ergebnistabellen. E. S., Report no. 9. InBerichte aus der Arbeitsgruppe “Verantwortung, Gerechtigkeit, Moral” Nr. 52.Universität Trier, Fb I-Psychologie, Trier FRG.

    Google Scholar 

  • Montada, L., Schmitt, M., and Dalbert, C. (1986). Thinking about justice and dealing with one's own privileges. A study of existential guilt. In Bierhoff, H. W., Cohen, R., and Greenberg, J. (eds.),Justice in Social Relations, Plenum Press, New York, pp. 125–143.

    Google Scholar 

  • Montada, L., Dalbert, C., and Schneider, A. (1989). Coping mit Problemen sozial schwacher Menschen: Ergebnisse der Längsschnittuntersuchung. E. S., Report no. 10. InBerichte aus der Arbeitsgruppe “Verantwortung, Gerechtigkeit, Moral” Nr. 53. Universität Trier, Fb I-Psychologie, Trier, FRG.

    Google Scholar 

  • Opp, R. E., and Samson, A. Y. (1989). Taxonomy of guilt for combat veterans.Prof. Psychol. 20: 159–165.

    Google Scholar 

  • Piliavin, J., Rodin, J., and Piliavin, I. (1969). Good samaritanism: An underground phenomen?J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 13: 289–299.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Roseman, J. (1984). Cognitive determinants of emotions: A structured theory. In Shaver, P. (ed.),Review of Personality and Social Psychology. Emotions, Relationship, and Health, Sage, Beverly Hills, pp. 11–36.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rosenhan, D. L., Salovey, P., Karylowski, J., and Hargis, K. (1982). Emotion and altruism. In Rushton, J. P., and Sorrentino, R. M. (eds.),Altruism and Helping Behavior, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 234–250.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ryan, W. (1971).Blaming the Victim, Pantheon, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scherer, K. R. (1984). Emotion as a multicomponent process: A model and some cross-cultural data. In Shaver, P., and Wheeler, L. (eds.),Review of Personality and Social Psychology, Sage, Beverly Hills, pp. 37–63.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schmitt, M., Dalbert, C., and Montada, L. (1985). Drei Wege zu mehr Konsistenz: Theoriepräzisierung, Korrespondenzbildung und Datenaggregierung.Z. Diff. Diagnos. Psychol. 6: 147–159.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schneider, A., Montada, L., Reichle, B., and Meissner, A. (1986). Auseinandersetzung mit Privilegunterschieden und existentieller Schuld: Item-und Skalenanalysen I. E. S. Report no. 3. InBerichte aus der Arbeitsgruppe “Verantwortung, Gerechtigkeit, Moral” Nr. 37. Universität Trier, Fb I-Psychologie, Trier, FRG.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schneider, A., Meissner, A., Montada, L., and Reichle, B. (1987). Validierung von Selbstberichten über Fremdratings. E. S., Report no. 5. InBerichte aus der Arbeitsgruppe “Verantwortung, Gerechtigkeit, Moral” Nr. 41. Universität Trier, Fb I-Psychologie, Trier, FRG.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schwartz, S. H. (1977). Normative influences on altruism. In Berkowitz, L. (ed.),Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 10, Academic Press, New York, pp. 221–279.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shaver, K. G. (1985).The Attribution of Blame: Causality, Responsibility, and Blameworthiness, Springer, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith, C. A., and Ellsworth, P. C. (1985). Patterns of cognitive appraisal in emotion.J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 48: 813–838.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Solomon, R. C. (1976).The Passions, Anchor, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sorrentino, R. M. (1982). Derogation of an innocently suffering victim: So who's the “Good Guy”? In Rushton, J. P., and Sorrentino, R. M. (ed.),Altruism and Helping Behavior', Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 267–286.

    Google Scholar 

  • Taylor, S. E., Wood, J. V., and Lichtman, R. R. (1983). It could be worse: Selective evaluation as a response to victimization.J. Soc. Issues, 39: 19–40.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tobey-Klass, E. (1978). Psychological effects of immoral actions: The experimental evidence.Psychol. Bull. 85: 756–771.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wills, T. A. (1981). Downward comparison principles in social psychology.Psychol. Bull. 90: 245–271.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Montada, L., Schneider, A. Justice and emotional reactions to the disadvantaged. Soc Just Res 3, 313–344 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01048081

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01048081

Key words

Navigation