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People who believe in justice also see a victim's life as more meaningful after tragedy
Date:12/14/2010

Seeing bad things happen to other people is scary. One way to respond to this is to blame the victimto look for some reason why it happened to them. But there's another common response, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The researchers found that people who believe in justice in the world also believe that a tragedy gives the victim's life more meaning.

"A lot of the time when people see someone else suffering, and helping them isn't an option, people will instead justify the fact that something is negative is happening to them. Because it's scary for something negative to happen to a good personthat means it could happen to you," says Joanna E. Anderson of the University of Waterloo, who cowrote the study with her colleagues Aaron C. Kay and Grinne M. Fitzsimons. Anderson suspected that there was another way to feel better about someone else's tragic experience: to believe that the negative experience is balanced by positive outcomes.

In an experiment, volunteers read a scenario in which someone was injured playing soccer in high school. The soccer player ends up with a broken leg, has back problems, undergoes multiple surgeries, and can't go to school with their peers. Everything is resolved by the end of high school; in the scenario, the person is now happily married and is thinking about starting a family. Each volunteer also filled out a survey that determined how strong their "justice motive" istheir need to see the world as just or fair. Then they were asked how much meaning they think the person's life has.

People who had a strong need to see the world as just were more likely to say that a victim's life is meaningful as opposed to the life of a person who hasn't experienced a tragedy. This also held true in another experiment, in which the researchers manipulated the participants' feelings about justice by having them read an article
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Contact: Keri Chiodo
kchiodo@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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