The effects of justice motivation on memory for self- and other-relevant events


Journal Article

We examined whether people might distort and selectively remember the past in ways that enable them to sustain a belief in a just world (BJW; Lerner, M. J. (1980). The belief in a just world: A fundamental delusion. New York: Plenum Press). In Study 1, recall of a lottery prize reflected participants' justice concerns, such that the average lottery amount recalled was lowest when a "bad" versus "good" person won. In Study 2, an unrelated experience of just world threat (versus affirmation) enhanced biased recall of the lottery prize when the winner was undeserving. In Study 3, participants who experienced a fortuitous bad break selectively remembered more bad deeds from their recent past, whereas participants who experienced a good break selectively remembered more good deeds. Study 4 demonstrates that such selective memory biases specifically serve to portray chance outcomes as more fair. Taken together, these findings offer support for the notion that reconstructing and selectively recalling the past can serve to sustain a BJW. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Callan, MJ; Kay, AC; Davidenko, N; Ellard, JH

Published Date

  • July 1, 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 45 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 614 - 623

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0465

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-1031

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jesp.2009.02.013

Citation Source

  • Scopus