just world hypothesis

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The widespread but false belief that the world is essentially fair, so that the good are rewarded and the bad punished. One consequence of this belief is that people who suffer misfortunes are assumed to deserve their fates: a person involved in a traffic accident must have been driving carelessly, a victim of burglary could not have taken adequate precautions, a woman who was raped must have acted provocatively and led her attacker on, and so on, and even the victims often blame themselves. This phenomenon, which is usually interpreted as a consequence of the illusion of control, was first identified and named by the Canadian psychologist Melvin J. Lerner (born 1929) in an article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1965. See also blaming the victim, Just World Scale.

Subjects: Psychology.

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