Victim derogation in the Lerner paradigm: Just world or just justification?

Robert B. Cialdini, Douglas Kenrick, James H. Hoerig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Conducted an experiment with 87 female undergraduates to test the possibility that derogation of a victim in the M. L. Lerner paradigm is mediated not by a desire to believe in a "just world" but rather by a desire to justify one's possible complicity in the production of harm. It was predicted that in a standard Lerner setting, Ss who were unambiguously informed that the data they would generate were not at the cause of the victim's suffering would show no significant victim derogation effect. This prediction was confirmed by 2 related measures of derogation. The derogation effect did appear, however, when Ss received standard Lerner-type instructions that were ambiguous regarding the instrumentality of their experimental roles to the production of the victim's pain. (20 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-724
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1976
Externally publishedYes


  • ambiguous vs unambiguous instructions concerning S's production of pain to victim, victim derogation, female college students, implications for M. L. Lerner paradigm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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