An Overview

Advances in Belief in a Just World Theory and Methods
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (CISJ)


It is over 30 years since the publication of Lerner & Simmons (1966). The research reported in that manuscript arose, initially, out of the efforts to explain why scientifically trained university students insisted on condemning poverty stricken victims as “lazy and no good” while denying the evidence of their victimization by overwhelming economic changes. The explanation offered for that seemingly motivated resistance was that people, for the sake of their security and ability to plan for the future, need to believe they live in an essentially “just” world where they can get what they deserve, at least in the long run. It was further reasoned that being confronted with innocent victims of undeserved suffering poses a threat to that fundamental belief, and as a consequence, people naturally develop and employ ways of defending it. This may involve acting to eliminate injustices. But failing that, by blaming, rejecting, or avoiding the victim, or having faith that the victim will eventually be appropriately compensated, people are able to maintain their confidence in the justness of the world in which they must live and work for their future security.


Married Couple Veridical Perception Innocent Victim Future Security Fundamental Belief 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aderman, D., Brehm, S.S. & Katz, L.B. (1974). Empathic observation of an innocent victim: The just world revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29, 342–347.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Lerner, M.J. (1971). Observer’s evaluation of a victim: Justice, guilt,and veridical perception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 20, 127–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Lerner, M.J. (1980). The belief in a just world. A fundamental delusion. New York: Plenum PressGoogle Scholar
  4. Lerner, M.J. and Agar, E. (1972). The consequences of perceived similarity:Attraction and rejection, approach and avoidance. Journal of Experimental Research in Personality, 6, 69–75.Google Scholar
  5. Lerner, M.J. and Miller, D.T. (1978). Just world research and the attribution process: looking back and ahead. Psychological Bulletin, 85, 1030–1051.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Lerner, M.J. and Simmons, C.H. (1966). The observer’s reaction to the “innocent victim”: Compassion or rejection? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 203–210.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Novak, D.W. and Lerner, M.J. (1968). Rejection as a consequence of perceived similarity. JournalGoogle Scholar
  8. of Personality and Social Psychology, 9,147–152.Google Scholar
  9. Rubin, Z. and Peplau, L.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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Rubin, Z., and Peplau, L.A. (1975). Who believes in a just world? Journal of Social Issues, 31 (3), 65–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Simons, C., and Piliavin, J.A. (1972). The effect of deception on reactions to a victim. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 21, 56–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Sorrentio, R.M. and Boutilier, R.G. (1974). Evaluation of a victim as a function of fate similarity/dissimilarity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 10, 83–92.Google Scholar
  13. Sorrentino, R.M., and Hardy, J.E. (1974). Religiousness and derogation of an innocent victim. Journal of Personality, 42, 372–382.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Zuckerman, M. (1975). Belief in a just world and altruistic behavior Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 972–976.Google Scholar
  15. Zuckerman, M., and Gerbasi, K.C. (1977). Belief in internal control or belief in a just world: The use and misuse of the I-E- scale in prediction of attitudes and behavior. Journal of Personality, 45, 356–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversität TrierTrierGermany

Personalised recommendations