The Belief in a Just World and Personality: A Meta-analysis

Abstract

Several meta-analyses using twelve studies were conducted, combining different forms of the belief in a just world (BJW) and the five-factor model in order to determine possible relationships between personality factors and individual differences regarding justice. As expected, the general (n = 2579) and personal (n = 1346) forms of BJW were negatively associated with neuroticism, and positively associated with extraversion and agreeableness. Summary effect sizes for neuroticism, extraversion, and agreeableness were r = −0.08, r = 0.10, and r = 0.09 concerning the general BJW, and r = −0.25, r = 0.18, and r = 0.10 concerning the personal BJW, respectively. Although no causality could be determined, possible interpretations of the relationships include BJW as a personal resource that increases emotional stability, BJW and extraversion’s reciprocity in the developmental process, and trust as an origin of both agreeableness and just world beliefs. In addition, the associations were significantly stronger when the personal BJW was used, as opposed to the general form, but only regarding neuroticism and extraversion. Attitudes concerning others and their well-being may explain the differential gap of associations when using BJW for the self or for others.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Ashton, M. C., & Lee, K. (2007). Empirical, theoretical, and practical advantages of the HEXACO model of personality structure. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11(2), 150–166.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Avia, M. D., Sanz, J., Sánchez-Bernardos, M. L., Martínez-Arias, M. R., Silva, F., & Graña, J. L. (1995). The five-factor model—II. Relations of the NEO-PI with other personality variables. Personality and Individual Differences, 19(1), 81–97. doi:10.1016/0191-8869(95)00007-S.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bègue, L., & Bastounis, M. (2003). Two spheres of belief in justice: Extensive support for the bidimensional model of belief in a just world. Journal of Personality, 71(3), 435–463.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bernath, M. S., & Feshbach, N. D. (1995). Children’s trust: Theory, assessment, development, and research directions. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 4(1), 1–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Borenstein, M., Hedges, L. V., Higgins, J. P. T., & Rothstein, H. R. (2009). Introduction to meta-analysis. Chichester, UK: Wiley.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  6. Callan, M. J., Sutton, R. M., & Dovale, C. (2010). When deserving translates into causing: The effect of cognitive load on immanent justice reasoning. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 1097–1100.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Correia, I., & Dalbert, C. (2007). Belief in a just world, justice concerns, and well-being at Portuguese schools. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 22, 421–437.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1980). Influence of extraversion and neuroticism on subjective well-being: Happy and unhappy people. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38(4), 668–678.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1988). Personality in adulthood: A six-year longitudinal study of self-reports and spouse ratings on the NEO personality inventory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(5), 853–863. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.54.5.853.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1989). NEO-PI/FFI manual supplement. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO personality inventory NEO PI-R and NEO five-factor inventory NEO-FFI professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Dalbert, C. (1998). Belief in a just world, well-being, and coping with an unjust fate. In L. Montada & M. J. Lerner (Eds.), Responses to victimizations and belief in a just world (pp. 87–105). New York: Plenum Press.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Dalbert, C. (1999). The world is more just for me than generally: About the personal belief in a just world scale’s validity. Social Justice Research, 12(2), 79–98. doi:10.1023/A:1022091609047.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Dalbert, C. (2001). The justice motive as a personal resource: Dealing with challenges and critical life events. New York: Plenum Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  16. Dalbert, C. (2002). Belief in a just world as a buffer against anger. Social Justice Research, 15, 123–145.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Dalbert, C., Montada, L., & Schmitt, M. (1987). Glaube an eine gerechte welt als motiv: Validierungskorrelate zweier skalen. [Belief in a just world: Validation correlates of two scales.]. Psychologische Beitrage, 29(4), 596–615.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Digman, J. M. (1990). Personality structure: Emergence of the five-factor model. Annual Review of Psychology, 41, 417–440.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Digman, J. M., & Takemoto-Chock, N. (1981). Factors in the natural language of personality: Re-analysis, comparison, and interpretation of six major studies. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 16(2), 149–170.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Dittmar, H., & Dickinson, J. (1993). The perceived relationship between the belief in a just world and sociopolitical ideology. Social Justice Research, 6(3), 257–272. doi:10.1007/BF01054461.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Dzuka, J., & Dalbert, C. (2002). Mental health and personality of Slovak unemployed adolescents: The impact of belief in a just world. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32(4), 732–757. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2002.tb00240.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Dzuka, J., & Dalbert, C. (2007). Aggression at school: Belief in a personal just world and well-being of victims and aggressors. Studia Psychologica, 49(4), 313–320.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Eysenck, H. J. (1947). Dimensions of personality. New York: Praeger.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Eysenck, H., & Eysenck, S. (1975). Manual of the Eysenck personality questionnaire. Sevenoaks: Hodder & Stoughton.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Fahrenberg, J., Selg, H., & Hampel, R. (1978). Das Freiburger Persönlichkeitsinventar FPI, Handanweisung [the Freiburg personality inventory]. Göttingen, Germany: Hogrefe.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Furnham, A. (2003). Belief in a just world: Research progress over the past decade. Personality and Individual Differences, 34(5), 795–817. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(02)00072-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Furnham, A., & Procter, E. (1989). Belief in a just world: Review and critique of the individual difference literature. British Journal of Social Psychology, 28(4), 365–384.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Goldberg, L. R. (1992). The development of markers for the big-five factor structure. Psychological Assessment, 4(1), 26–42. doi:10.1037/1040-3590.4.1.26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Gouldner, A. W. (1960). The norm of reciprocity: A preliminary statement. American Sociological Review, 25, 161–178.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Graziano, W. G., Habashi, M., Sheese, B., & Tobin, R. M. (2007). Agreeableness, empathy, and helping: A person × situation perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 583–599.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Hafer, C. L. (2000). Investment in long-term goals and commitment to just means drive the need to believe in a just world. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(9), 1059–1073. doi:10.1177/01461672002611004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Heaven, P. C., & Connors, J. (1988). Personality, gender, and “just world” beliefs. Australian Journal of Psychology, 40(3), 261–266. doi:10.1080/00049538808260047.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Hoge, E., Ivkovic, A., & Fricchione, G. (2012). Generalized anxiety disorder: Diagnosis and treatment. British Medical Journal, 345, e7500. doi:10.1136/bmj.e7500.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Keller, C., & Siegrist, M. (2010). Psychological resources and attitudes toward people with physical disabilities. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(2), 389–401. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2009.00579.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Kotov, R., Gamez, W., Schmidt, F., & Watson, D. (2010). Linking “big” personality traits to anxiety, depressive, and substance use disorders: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136(5), 768–821. doi:10.1037/a0020327.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Lambert, A. J., Burroughs, T., & Nguyen, T. (1999). Perceptions of risk and the buffering hypothesis: The role of just world beliefs and right-wing authoritarianism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 643–656.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Le Corff, Y., & Toupin, J. (2010). The five-factor model of personality at the facet level: Association with antisocial personality disorder symptoms and prediction of antisocial behavior. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 32(4), 586–594. doi:10.1007/s10862-010-9180-y.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. LePine, J. A., & Van Dyne, L. (2001). Voice and cooperative behavior as contrasting forms of contextual performance: Evidence of differential relationships with big five personality characteristics and cognitive ability. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(2), 326–336. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.86.2.326.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Lerner, M. J. (1965). Evaluation of performance as a function of performer’s reward and attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1, 355–360.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Lerner, M. J. (1974). Social psychology of justice and interpersonal attraction. In T. Huston (Ed.), Foundations of interpersonal attraction. New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Lerner, M. J. (1980). The belief in a just world: A fundamental delusion. New York: Plenum Press.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Lerner, M. J., & Miller, D. T. (1978). Just world research and the attribution process: Looking back and ahead. Psychological Bulletin, 85(5), 1030–1051. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.85.5.1030.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Lerner, M. J., & Simmons, C. H. (1966). Observer’s reaction to the “innocent victim”: Compassion or rejection? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4(2), 203–210. doi:10.1037/h0023562.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Lipkus, I. (1991). The construction and preliminary validation of a global belief in a just world scale and the exploratory analysis of the multidimensional belief in a just world scale. Personality and Individual Differences, 12(11), 1171–1178. doi:10.1016/0191-8869(91)90081-L.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Lipkus, I. M., Dalbert, C., & Siegler, I. C. (1996). The importance of distinguishing the belief in a just world for self versus for others: Implications for psychological well-being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22(7), 666–677. doi:10.1177/0146167296227002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Lipsey, M. W., & Wilson, D. B. (1993). The efficacy of psychological, educational, and behavioral treatment: Confirmation from meta-analysis. American Psychologist, 48, 1181–1209.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Lipsey, M. W., & Wilson, D. B. (2001). Practical meta-analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  48. McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T., Jr. (1997). Personality trait structure as a human universal. American Psychologist, 52(5), 509–516. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.52.5.509.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. McCrae, R. R., & John, O. P. (1992). An introduction to the five-factor model and its applications. Journal of Personality, 60(2), 175–215. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1992.tb00970.x.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Miller, D. T. (1977). Altruism and threat to a belief in a just world. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 13, 113–124.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Montada, L. (1998). Belief in a just world: A hybrid of justice motive and self-interest? In L. Montada & M. J. Lerner (Eds.), Responses to victimizations and belief in a just world (pp. 217–246). New York: Plenum Press.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Nudelman, G., & Shiloh, S. (2011). Who deserves to be sick? An exploration of the relationships between belief in a just world, illness causal attributions and their fairness judgements. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 16(6), 675–685. doi:10.1080/13548506.2011.569730.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Otto, K. (2006). Belief in a just world, globalization and social network. Paper presented at the 10th Conference of European Association for Research on Adolescence, Antalya, Turkey.

  54. Otto, K., Glaser, D., & Dalbert, C. (2009). Mental health, occupational trust, and quality of working life: Does belief in a just world matter? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39(6), 1288–1315. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2009.00482.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Piaget, J. (1965). The moral development of the child. New York: Free press.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Rammstedt, B., & John, O. P. (2005). Kurzversion des big five inventory (BFI-K): Entwicklung und Validierung eines oekonomischen Inventars zur Erfassung der fuenf Faktoren der Persoenlichkeit [Short version of the big five inventory: Development and validation of an economic inventory to assess the five personality factors]. Diagnostica, 51, 195–206.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Roelofs, J., Huibers, M., Peeters, F., & Arntz, A. (2008). Effects of neuroticism on depression and anxiety: Rumination as a possible mediator. Personality and Individual Differences, 44(3), 576–586. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2007.09.019.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Rosenthal, R. (1979). The file drawer problem and tolerance for null results. Psychological Bulletin, 86(3), 638–641. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.86.3.638.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Rubin, Z., & Peplau, A. (1973). Belief in a just world and reactions to another’s lot: A study of participants in the national draft lottery. Journal of Social Issues, 29(4), 73–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Rubin, Z., & Peplau, L. A. (1975). Who believes in a just world? Journal of Social Issues, 31(3), 65–89.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Schmitt, Neal. (2008). The interaction of neuroticism and gender and its impact on self-efficacy and performance. Human Performance, 21, 49–61.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Schmitt, M., Gollwitzer, M., Maes, J., & Arbach, D. (2005). Justice sensitivity: Assessment and location in the personality space. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 21(3), 202–211. doi:10.1027/1015-5759.21.3.202.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Sutton, R. M., & Douglas, K. M. (2005). Justice for all, or just for me? More evidence of the importance of the self-other distinction in just-world beliefs. Personality and Individual Differences, 39(3), 637–645.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Watson, D., & Clark, L. A. (1992). On traits and temperament: General and specific factors of emotional experience and their relation to the five-factor model. Journal of Personality, 60(2), 441–476. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1992.tb00980.x.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Wolfradt, U., & Dalbert, C. (2003). Personality, values and belief in a just world. Personality and Individual Differences, 35(8), 1911–1918. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(03)00040-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Zuckerman, M. (1975). Belief in a just world and altruistic behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31(5), 972–976. doi:10.1037/h0076793.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Zuckerman, M., & Gerbasi, K. C. (1977). Belief in a just world and trust. Journal of Research in Personality, 11(3), 306–317. doi:10.1016/0092-6566(77)90039-3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gabriel Nudelman.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Nudelman, G. The Belief in a Just World and Personality: A Meta-analysis. Soc Just Res 26, 105–119 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-013-0178-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Belief in a just world
  • Five-factor model
  • Neuroticism
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Meta-analysis