The Effects of System Justification and Reminders of Ingroup Disadvantage on Just World Beliefs
The tendency to believe that people get what they deserve—termed just world beliefs—is a pervasive phenomenon associated with acceptance of the suffering of others. We tested whether we could decrease just world beliefs. We experimentally manipulated system justification, and gave participants false feedback on a gender Implicit Association Test telling them that they favor the “opposite” gender. For female participants, this false feedback represented a reminder of their ingroup’s low status by suggesting that they support the status quo that disadvantages women. Participants then completed a self-report measure of just world beliefs. As an indirect measure of just world beliefs, participants rated the funniness, offensiveness, and appropriateness of sexist jokes. There were no effects on just world beliefs; however, participants in the high (vs. low) system justification condition rated the sexist jokes marginally more positively. Thus, people who are motivated to justify the status quo are somewhat more accepting of humor that is derisive of a disadvantaged group, suggesting that they may not take group inequality seriously.