Belief in a just world, social influence and illness attributions: Evidence of a just world boomerang effect

Todd Lucas, Sheldon Alexander, Ira Firestone, James M. Lebreton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Characteristics of individuals and illnesses can both influence receptivity to preventative health messages. We examined whether receptivity to health messages depends on interactions between illness characteristics and dispositional concern for justice. Participants considered the preventability of six illnesses after exposure to a message that manipulated personal responsibility for illness. Paradoxically, participants with strong just world beliefs reported greater preventability for less preventable illnesses, such as brain cancer, when exposed to an unpreventable health message. In parallel, participants with low justice beliefs reported less preventability for lung cancer when exposed to a preventable message. This just world boomerang effect suggests that individual dispositions and illness characteristics can interact in ways that can produce either acquiescence or opposition to persuasive health messages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-266
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Health Psychology
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology

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