Belief in the Just World in European Culture

Belief in the Just World in European Culture

Andreenkova A.V.

Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Deputy Director of the Institute for comparative social research (CESSI), Moscow, Russia

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Andreenkova A.V. Belief in the Just World in European Culture. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2022. No 6. P. 23-35


General belief in the justice, in well-ordered and balanced social relations, the system where people get what they deserve is described in the concept of M. Lerner as “belief in the just world” (BJW). BJW helps to justify existing inequalities, to cope with unjust life situations, to keep optimistic view, but can also be a barrier for questioning and changing of unfair social relations. The research based on data of 9th round of Russian social survey (RSS) and European social survey (ESS) conducted in 30 countries revealed the prevalence of rational-skeptical view of Europeans on the chances of general justice. The average level of BJM appeared to be relatively low in Russia and in most other countries included in the analysis. To confirm the methodological rigor of these conclusions, the evaluation of statistical cross-national equivalency of BJM scale was conducted. The empirical validity of the BJW scale in Russia was assessed using cognitive interviews on randomly selected follow-up sample among RSS respondents. It showed the interpretative and motivational multidimensionality of the concept, but also the consistency of empirical semantic space of the concept to theoretical construct and general validity of the scale. Factors influencing the formation of BJW have two-fold structure. The impact of value-cultural factor leads to the similarity of views on BJW in Russia and in Europe on aggregate level. Personal situation and socio-demographic factors plays on individual level have differential impact. BJW as general worldview attitude has strong impact on framing particular socio-political attitudes and evaluations. High level of BJW is related to loyalty toward existing political system, trust to governing institutions and positive evaluation of incumbent’s performance which is consistent with findings from previous research. In opposite, the hypothesis on the impact of BJW on the support of conservative ideology and anti-liberal social attitudes was not confirmed.

belief in the just world; values of fairness and justice; worldviews; social attitudes; comparative cross-national surveys; Russian social Survey; European Social Survey; equivalency of crossnational comparisons; validation of subjective indicators; cognitive interviews
Content No 6, 2022