Personal Versus General Belief in a Just World, Karma, and Well-Being: Evidence from Thailand and the UK
Phatthanakit Chobthamkit, Robbie M. Sutton, Ayse K. Uskul, Trawin Chaleeraktrakoon
Social Justice Research
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The belief in a just world (BJW) is the belief that people get what they deserve and deserve what they get. The theory and research findings suggest that believing the world is fair to “me” (personal BJW or PBJW) is associated with positive psychological functioning, whereas believing that the world is fair to people in general (general BJW or GBJW) may not. Against a backdrop of mixed findings in samples recruited in Asian countries, we conducted two studies in Thailand (N = 177 and N = 175) and one in the UK (N = 345). Study 1 examined the relationships between PBJW, GBJW, life satisfaction, and depression in Thailand; Study 2 also included Karma and was conducted in Thailand and the UK. In both studies, PBJW uniquely predicted well-being. When controlling for BJW, belief in Karma positively predicted life satisfaction and depression only in the UK sample. In addition, Karma was uniquely predicted by GBJW but more strongly so in Thailand. Furthermore, within both samples, individuals endorsed PBJW more strongly than GBJW; comparing across samples, PBJW was more strongly endorsed in the UK than Thailand, whereas GBJW was more strongly endorsed in Thailand than the UK. However, sample nationality did not moderate associations between BJW, Karma and well-being. Results support the cultural generality of just world theory and the psychological priority of PBJW and indicate that the cultural concept of Karma does not explain relationships between just-world beliefs and well-being.