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26-08-2019 | Issue 1/2020

Social Justice Research 1/2020

A Latent Factor Approach to Belief in a Just World and its Association with Well-Being

Journal:
Social Justice Research > Issue 1/2020
Authors:
Carolyn L. Hafer, Michael A. Busseri, Alicia N. Rubel, Caroline E. Drolet, Jennifer N. Cherrington
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11211-019-00342-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Abstract

Drawing on justice motive theory (Lerner et al. in Berkowitz and Walster (eds) Advances in experimental social psychology. Academic Press, New York, 1976), in the present work we examine belief in a just world as an underlying (latent) factor, reflected in general and personal beliefs. We first conducted a meta-analysis encompassing 51 articles, 76 samples, 19 countries and 23,900 participants, which revealed a positive association between the two forms of belief in a just world across studies (meta-analytic r = .52 [95% CI = .48, .56], p < .001) and within each of the individual samples. These results suggest that general and personal belief in a just world could be treated as joint indicators of a latent belief in a just world factor. In a second study, an online sample of participants (n = 311 participants, 54% women, Mage = 37.78 years) completed measures of general and personal belief in a just world, which we treated as indicators of latent belief in a just world. Measures of subjective well-being and psychological well-being were treated as indicators of latent well-being. Indicators loaded strongly on their respective latent factors, and the latent factors were strongly positively correlated (r = .74, p < .001). These results suggest that the link between belief in a just world and well-being may be even more substantial than has been previously recognized. In accordance with the original conceptualization of belief in a just world in justice motive theory, our results suggest benefits to examining the shared and unique aspects of general and personal beliefs in a just world.

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