Carolyn L. Hafer
The just-world hypothesis is the belief that, in general, the social environment is fair, such that people get what they deserve. The concept was developed in part to help explain observations that to preserve a belief that the world is a just place, people will sometimes devalue a victim. A just world is defined as a world in which people do get what they deserve. The justworld hypothesis is important because it suggests that people may treat certain victims badly, oddly enough, out of a desire to sustain their belief in justice. It also suggests that people may go to great lengths to maintain a sense that the world is just, giving evidence that the human motivation for justice is very strong. The seminal experiment illustrating this phenomenon was conducted by Melvin Lerner and Carolyn Simmons in the 1960s. In this experiment, people watched on a television monitor a woman ...