In search of the silver lining: the justice motive fosters perceptions of benefits in the later lives of tragedy victims.
Past research has demonstrated that people's need to perceive the world as fair and just leads them to blame and derogate victims of tragedy. The research reported here shows that a positive reaction--bestowing additional meaning on the lives of individuals who have suffered--can also serve people's need to believe that the world is just. In two studies, participants whose justice motive was temporarily heightened or who strongly endorsed the belief that reward and punishment are fairly distributed in the world perceived more meaning and enjoyment in the life of someone who had experienced a tragedy than in the life of someone who had not experienced tragedy, but this pattern was not found for participants whose justice motive was not heightened or who did not strongly endorse a justice belief. These results suggest that being motivated to see the world as just--a motivation traditionally associated with victim derogation--also leads people to perceive a "silver lining" to tragic events.
Anderson, JE; Kay, AC; Fitzsimons, GM
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