Social Indicators Research

, Volume 126, Issue 1, pp 411–423 | Cite as

How Belief in a Just World Benefits Mental Health: The Effects of Optimism and Gratitude

  • Feng Jiang
  • Xiaodong Yue
  • Su LuEmail author
  • Guangtao Yu
  • Fei Zhu


Past research suggests that individuals’ belief in a just world (BJW) is closely connected with their mental health. To clarify the underlying mechanism, the current study proposes that BJW encourages optimism and gratitude which then mediates the relationship between BJW and mental health as indicated by subjective well-being (SWB) and depression. A sample of 1,200 undergraduates yields results indicating that (a) BJW influences optimism, gratitude, SWB, and depression after controlling for gender, age, income, and personality; (b) optimism and gratitude mediate BJW effects by increasing SWB and decreasing depression. The issues of BJW’s adaptive functions are discussed.


Belief in a just world Gratitude Optimism Subjective well-being Depression 



The work was supported by Grant 71401190 from National Natural Science Foundation of China, Grant 71401036 from National Natural Science Foundation of China, program for Innovation Research in Central University of Finance and Economics, and the ‘Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities’ in UIBE (13QNGLX02). The authors would like to thank anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Feng Jiang
    • 1
  • Xiaodong Yue
    • 2
  • Su Lu
    • 3
    Email author
  • Guangtao Yu
    • 1
  • Fei Zhu
    • 1
  1. 1.Central University of Finance and EconomicsBeijingChina
  2. 2.City University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  3. 3.University of International Business and EconomicsBeijingChina

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