In other words, the just-world hypothesis is the tendency to attribute consequences to—i just like to make things pdf expect consequences as the result of—a universal force that restores moral balance. Research has continued since then, examining the predictive capacity of the hypothesis in various situations and across cultures, and clarifying and expanding the theoretical understandings of just-world beliefs. 180 CE who argued against this belief.
Lerner’s work made the just-world hypothesis a focus of research in the field of social psychology. During his clinical training as a psychologist, he observed treatment of mentally ill persons by the health care practitioners with whom he worked. Though he knew them to be kindhearted, educated people, they often blamed patients for the patients’ own suffering. The desire to understand the processes that caused these phenomena led Lerner to conduct his first experiments on what is now called the just-world hypothesis. 72 female subjects were made to watch a confederate receiving electrical shocks under a variety of conditions.
Initially, subjects were upset by observing the apparent suffering. Derogation was greater when the observed suffering was greater. But when subjects were told the victim would receive compensation for her suffering, subjects did not derogate the victim. Lerner and colleagues replicated these findings in subsequent studies, as did other researchers. To explain these studies’ findings, Lerner theorized that there was a prevalent belief in a just world. A just world is one in which actions and conditions have predictable, appropriate consequences.
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These actions and conditions are typically individuals’ behaviors or attributes. The specific conditions that correspond to certain consequences are socially determined by a society’s norms and ideologies. Lerner presents the belief in a just world as functional: it maintains the idea that one can influence the world in a predictable way. Belief in a just world functions as a sort of “contract” with the world regarding the consequences of behavior. This allows people to plan for the future and engage in effective, goal-driven behavior. Lerner hypothesized that the belief in a just world is crucially important for people to maintain for their own well-being. But people are confronted daily with evidence that the world is not just: people suffer without apparent cause.
Lerner explained that people use strategies to eliminate threats to their belief in a just world. Rational strategies include accepting the reality of injustice, trying to prevent injustice or provide restitution, and accepting one’s own limitations. There are a few modes of reinterpretation that could make an event fit the belief in a just world. In the case of observing the injustice of the suffering of innocent people, one major way to rearrange the cognition of an event is to interpret the victim of suffering as deserving. In victim blaming, the causes of victimization are attributed to an individual rather than to a situation. Thus, the consequences of belief in a just world may be related to or explained in terms of particular patterns of causal attribution. Others have suggested alternative explanations for the derogation of victims.