Belief in a just world as it relates to causal attributions for gun -related incidents and attitudes toward gun control

Joanna Gallant, Fordham University

Abstract

Although belief in a just world (Lerner, 1978) has been studied extensively in the rape literature, and to a lesser extent in other instances of victimization, there have been no studies to date exploring the role of just world views on victim blaming in situations of gun violence. As such, this study examined the theoretical relationship between just world views and locus of control on victim blaming in instances of gun violence and attitudes toward gun control. Participants included 247 undergraduates at three universities in the New York City area who completed an online survey. The study found support for the continued use of many of the scales used, including the Attitudes Toward Gun Control Scale and the Blaming the Victim Scale, and Lipkus' (1995) just world scale demonstrated considerable advantages over Rubin and Peplau's (1975) scale. Results indicated that there was a significant interaction between just world views and locus of control on predicting victim-blaming, and this interaction was maintained when other variables were taken into account. Although not fully in the hypothesized direction, this interaction was in keeping with just world theory which explains this behavior as a defensive attribution process. Specifically, victims were blamed when an individual had a high belief in a just world and an internal locus of control or when he or she had a low belief in a just world and an external locus of control. While results indicated several important correlates of the Attitudes Toward Gun Control Scale, there was no empirical support for the hypothesis that just world views and locus of control would interact to predict scores on this measure. Future research should continue to examine the advantages of Lipkus' scale over Rubin and Peplau's just world scale, as well as the utility of the Attitudes Toward Gun Control Scale. Future studies should also address the extent to which the observed relationships are maintained among specific groups, such as the NRA and Brady Campaign, and findings should be applied to anti-crime initiatives, education efforts, and jury research. ^

Subject Area

Political Science, General|Psychology, Developmental|Sociology, Criminology and Penology

Recommended Citation

Joanna Gallant, "Belief in a just world as it relates to causal attributions for gun -related incidents and attitudes toward gun control" (January 1, 2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3159384.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3159384

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