The belief in an unjust world: An egotistic delusion

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Dariusz Dolinski.

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Dolinski, D. The belief in an unjust world: An egotistic delusion. Soc Just Res 9, 213–221 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02197248

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Key words

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