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Unformatted text preview: Just World and the Emotional Defense of Self Hans IJzerman 1 and Jan-Willem van Prooijen 2 1 Communication, Social Cognition, and Language Research Group, Utrecht University, The Netherlands 2 Department of Social Psychology, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Abstract. This research examines how individuals with different affect regulation strategies cope with just-world threats. Our study demonstrated that individuals who poorly downregulate negative affect (a state-oriented style) more avidly attempt to defend a just world after this opportunity is offered via an authority figure when that belief of a just world was threatened than do individuals who successfully downregulate negative affect (an action-oriented style), after a filler task. Sizable differences thus exist in how individuals defend their just-world beliefs as a function of how people deal with their affective states. Keywords: just world, motivation, PSI theory, affect regulation That fellow was liquidated because he was a criminal! is common in public discourse after reading about a crime. Lerner (1980) proposed that people have a need to believe that one gets what one deserves, often referred to as just world beliefs. A logical response for believers in a just world is to deem that a victim of a crime in some sense deserved it. Hence, the aforementioned response poten- tially changes perception on ones chances of victimiza- tion. This defense mechanism might be functional as crimes can leave individuals in negative states. The just- world theory has repeatedly been employed to explain re- sponses to everyday threats surrounding human beings. Lerner (1980), however, described just-world theory as a metaphorical construct for reality rather than an underlying psychological process. Several justice researchers have ar- gued that just-world beliefs give meaning to much of life (Hafer & Bgue, 2005). By defending these beliefs, people can reduce or even prevent facing threats from their envi- ronment. In this article, we explore novel concepts for meaning extracted from just-world beliefs, illustrated by differences in abilities to self-regulate negative states and their relations to responding to just-world threats. Just world beliefs can essentially be regarded as over- all meaning structures and, consequently, as overall goals. Just-world threats are thus theorized to influence goal concepts. For example, Crocken and Neur (2004) discussed that threats can inspire or terrorize the minds of individuals, suggesting that individuals trembling with fear lack clear goals, whereas persons who have in- creased levels of motivation possess a clear sense of meaning and purpose. Hence, in the current article we review the previously mentioned just-world threats as frustration to meaning and purpose of maintaining ones world as just....
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This note was uploaded on 05/06/2009 for the course PSY 3042 taught by Professor Engle-friedman during the Spring '05 term at CUNY Baruch.
- Spring '05