From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The just-world hypothesis or just-world fallacy is the cognitive bias (or assumption) that a person's actions are inherently inclined to bring morally fair and fitting consequences to that person, to the end of all noble actions being eventually rewarded and all evil actions eventually punished. In other words, the just-world hypothesis is the tendency to attribute consequences to—or expect consequences as the result of—a universal force that restores moral balance. This belief generally implies the existence of cosmic justice, destiny, divine providence, desert, stability, or order, and has high potential to result in fallacy, especially when used to rationalize people's misfortune on the grounds that they "deserve" it.
The hypothesis popularly appears in the English language in various figures of speech that imply guaranteed negative reprisal, such as: "you got what was coming to you", "what goes around comes around", "chickens come home to roost", "everything happens for a reason", and "you reap what you sow". This hypothesis has been widely studied by social psychologists since Melvin J. Lerner conducted seminal work on the belief in a just world in the early 1960s. Research has continued since then, examining the predictive capacity of the hypothesis in various situations and across cultures, and clarifying and expanding the theoretical understandings of just-world beliefs.
- "Best of all possible worlds"
- Fundamental attribution error
- Hindsight bias
- Mean world syndrome
- Moral panic
- Natural disasters as divine retribution
- Poetic justice
- System justification
- Victim blaming