3600project - Running head: JUST WORLD 1 Belief in a Just...

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Running head: JUST WORLD 1 Belief in a Just World: How Our Perceptions Impact Our Judgments Anon Y. Mous Valdosta State University
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JUST WORD 2 Abstract This study examined participants’ beliefs in a just world and how these beliefs affect their perceptions. Participants' beliefs in a just world were measured by the Global Belief in a Just World Scale (Lipkus, 1991). Participants, 80 males and 81 females, read a description of a fictitious carjacking where the victim was described as either resisting the attacker or not. Participants rated the deservingness and responsibility of the victim and the responsibility of the attacker. As predicted, participants in the resistance condition, and males, rated the victim more responsible and deserving. Contrary to prediction, neither participants in the no resistance condition nor females rated the attacker more responsible. The results are discussed within the Just World Theory (Lerner, 1980).
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3 Belief in a Just World: How Our Perceptions are Affected The recent growth in the study of crime has led many researchers to examine the role of the victim in various crime situations. One of the results of this trend has been a tendency to blame apparently innocent victims (Blumberg & Lester, 1991). A great deal of research suggests that individual perceptions of rape, violence, and other forms of attack are colored by a person’s own attitudes (Cowan & Curtis, 1994). However, many other factors, such as characteristics of the victim and gender, play a central role in who gets held responsible in the midst of unfortunate circumstances. For example, a study by Daugherty and Esper (1998) investigated the issue of belief in a just world and how these beliefs affect attributions of blame. The researchers predicted that participants who believe in a just world would assign victims more responsibility than participants who do not believe that the world is just. All participants were given a Global Belief in a Just World Scale (Lipkus, 1991) and a scenario to read about a victim who was arrested while running away from a fight at a local bar. The victim, described as either having been arrested previously or having never been arrested, was placed in jail. Another inmate later raped the victim. The participants were then given the opportunity to rate how responsible the victim was for the incident. The results showed that participants whose scores indicated a greater belief in a just world assigned more responsibility to the victim regardless of the victim’s prior arrest record. The researchers concluded that belief in a just world is indicative of greater victim blame. Conners and Heaven (1990) also investigated how certain characteristics of an observer, such as belief in a just world, affect how victims are judged. Based on the Just World Theory, (Lerner, 1980) which implies that you get what you deserve in life, the researchers hypothesized that participants believing in a just world would hold the victim more responsible than
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This note was uploaded on 11/16/2011 for the course PSYCH 3600 taught by Professor Whatley during the Fall '11 term at Valdosta State University .

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3600project - Running head: JUST WORLD 1 Belief in a Just...

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