We blame innocent victims more than I do: Self-construal level moderates responses to just world threats

J.W. van Prooijen, K van den Bos

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    Abstract

    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. © 2009 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1528-1539
    JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
    Volume35
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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