Belief in an unjust world: when beliefs in a just world fail. Academic Article uri icon


  • Belief in a just world, where people get what they deserve, has been hypothesized to underlie a variety of psychological phenomena (Lerner, 1965). Close inspection of individual difference measures of this belief, however, has indicated repeatedly that just world beliefs are not a unidimensional construct. The purpose of this investigation was to elaborate upon the conceptualization of unjust world beliefs as a related but separate construct from just world beliefs. In two studies, the Unjust World Views scale (UJVS) was developed and its reliability and validity examined. The UJVS demonstrated acceptable reliability and validity and accounted for more variability in related outcomes than just world beliefs. Further, belief in an unjust world was related to defensive coping, anger, and perceived future risk. These findings contribute to theory development and suggest that a belief in an unjust world may serve a self-protective function. Clinical implications are discussed as unjust world views also were found to be potentially maladaptive.

published proceedings

  • J Pers Assess

altmetric score

  • 13.08

author list (cited authors)

  • Lench, H. C., & Chang, E. S.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Lench, Heather C||Chang, Esther S

publication date

  • January 2007