Demystifying magical justice beliefs: Believing in justice in a world of injustices

H.H. Ong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Public Summary

Despite injustices being widespread throughout the world, many people continue to believe that the world is a just place and that justice is maintained in impossible and magical ways. In this dissertation, I refer to such beliefs as ‘magical justice beliefs’ and seek to further the understanding of how such beliefs affect judgment and decision-making. The findings indicate that while magical justice beliefs appear to influence judgment with little to no obvious consequences (e.g., judgment of likelihood of outcomes), they do not seem to influence consequential decision-making (e.g., risk-taking, dishonest behavior). To explain this discrepancy, I draw on a metaphor: magical justice beliefs are like sunglasses. People do not wear their sunglasses all the time. People wear them when it is beneficial to do so (e.g., driving while the sun is bright and low) and take them off when it is detrimental (e.g., driving at night). In a similar manner, people may rely on magical justice beliefs when the benefits conferred by such beliefs outweigh the costs and suspend such beliefs when they are recognized to be detrimental. This could allow people to reap the benefits of magical justice beliefs while avoiding their downsides.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
  • van Beest, Ilja, Promotor
  • Nelissen, Rob, Co-promotor
  • Achterberg, Peter, Member PhD commission
  • van Prooijen, J.-W., Member PhD commission, External person
  • Stavrova, Olga, Member PhD commission
  • Douglas, K., Member PhD commission, External person
  • Zeelenberg, Marcel, Member PhD commission
  • van Dijk, E., Member PhD commission, External person
Award date24 Mar 2023
Place of Publications.l.
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2023


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