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Just-world phenomenon

 

Explanations > Theories > Just-world phenomenon

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

We tend to believe that the world is, on the whole, fair, and that wrongs will be punished and rights rewarded at some time in the indeterminate future.

The Bible agrees: 'whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.' (Galatians 6:7). The Christian religion also includes the potential for reward and punishment to be meted out after death in the fields of heaven or fires of hell.

This attitude helps us make sense of the world as we translate events as being just, fore-ordained or inevitable.

This is also a mindset of bullies, who believe that they are punishing their victims.

Research

A number of studies have shown beliefs that people who suffer deserve it and have brought their ills upon themselves.

Example

A common belief is that homeless people are obviously lazy, whilst rich people probably got their wealth through diligent hard work.

So What?

Using it

Help people attribute cause where it serves your purpose.

Defending

Be charitable. Beware of assuming the unfortunate deserve what they get.

See also

Beliefs, Attribution Theory, Stereotypes

References

Lerner and Simmons (1966), Lerner (1980)

 

 

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