Belief in a just world, a construct first introduced by Lerner (1978), has been the topic of psychological research for the past forty years (Lerner, 1965; Rubin & Peplau, 1973; Tomaka & Blascovich, 1994; Dalbert, 1999; Hafer, 2000; Furnham, 2003). Much of the research conducted on the belief in a just world focused on its cognitive use as a protective mechanism. For example, Belief in a Just World (BJW) has been positively correlated with helping behavior (Beirhoff, 2002), commitment to long range goals (Hafer, 2000), positive well-being (Dalbert, 2000), and negatively associated with stress (Takoma & Blascovich, 1994). In the present study, over 400 adolescents from grades 7th through 12th were administered measures of BJW and school stress. Further, student records were also reviewed for disciplinary actions, absenteeism, tardiness and end of the year grades in four core subject areas. Pearson product-moment correlations revealed significant positive relationships between BJW and academic performance and significant negative associations between BJW and stress. BJW was also negatively associated with disciplinary actions. Further analysis utilizing an ANOVA and Post Hoc comparisons revealed differences in BJW by grade level. Finally, a stepwise multiple regression revealed that BJW was a significant predictor of overall academic achievement along with discipline referrals, perceived stress, and absenteeism.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Academic achievement--Psychological aspects; Social justice--Psychological aspects; Belief and doubt; Motivation in education; Stress (Psychology)

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

School Psychology (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Department of Psychology (CLA)


Scott P. Merydith

Advisor/Committee Member

Jennifer Lukomski


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at LB1062.6 .H47 2005


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