Just-World Hypothesis

By Renée Grinnell

The idea that people need to believe one will get what one deserves so strongly that they will rationalize an inexplicable injustice by naming things the victim might have done to deserve it. Also known as blaming the victim, the just-world fallacy, and the just-world effect.

Example: Because it’s far too frightening for many to accept that bad things can happen to good people, and therefore that they themselves have no control over whether bad things might happen to them someday, they will instead search for ways to differentiate themselves from victims of ill fortune. For example, outsiders might deride people whose houses were destroyed by a tornado, blaming them for choosing to live in a disaster-prone area or for not building a stronger house.


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Jan 2009