We want to believe the world is fair and just. It’s too depressing to think otherwise, right? When we see terrible things happen to innocent people, it’s much easier to believe that it’s the person’s fault than to radically shift our worldview:
This study investigated the impact of self-construal levels on people’s tendency to blame innocent victims for the victims’ fates. The authors hypothesized that when the belief in a just world is threatened, social self-construal is associated with more victim blaming than individual self-construal is. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants were primed with either the individual self (with the word I) or the social self (with the word we). Results indeed showed that when threats to just-world beliefs were high, social self-activation produced more victim blaming than individual self-activation did. This effect was not found when just-world threats were low. Extending on these findings, Experiment 3 revealed that, following a just-world threat, an independent self-construal measure was negatively related to victim blaming, and an interdependent self-construal measure was positively related to victim blaming. It is concluded that self-construal levels are important to understanding the justice motive.
Source: “We Blame Innocent Victims More Than I Do: Self-Construal Level Moderates Responses to Just-World Threats” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
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