Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Br J Educ Psychol. 2010 Jun;80(Pt 2):183-98. doi: 10.1348/000709909X479105. Epub 2009 Nov 21.

The association between adolescents' beliefs in a just world and their attitudes to victims of bullying.

Author information

School of Psychology, University of Keele, UK.



Research which has investigated children's attitudes to bullying has found that the majority of children display anti-bullying attitudes. However, a small minority of children do appear to admire the bully and lack sympathy for victims of bullying. The just world belief theory has received a great deal of attention in recent years with evidence emerging in support of a two-dimensional model distinguishing between beliefs in a just world (BJW) for self and BJW for others. BJW-self (and not BJW-others) has been found to uniquely predict psychological well-being, whereas BJW-others (and not BJW-self) uniquely predicts harsh social attitudes and derogation of victims.


The aim of the present study was to measure BJW-self and others in a sample of UK secondary schoolchildren and to see whether BJW-others can account for adolescents' negative attitudes towards victims of bullying.


In total, 346 pupils aged 11-16 years of age (270 males, 76 females) from two schools took part in the study.


The participants completed measures of BJW-self and others, attitudes to victims of bullying, empathy, and self-esteem on a whole class basis.


It was found that BJW-others uniquely predicted adolescents' attitudes to victims but in the opposite direction to that which was predicted - high BJW were associated with stronger anti-bullying attitudes. As predicted, BJW-self (but not BJW-others) was positively and uniquely correlated with self-esteem.


The findings are discussed in the context of research which has found that the direction of the relationship between BJW-others and derogation of victims appears to depend on the nature of the injustice, with people with strong BJW less tolerant of severe injustices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Support Center