Melvin J. Lerner (born 1929) was Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Waterloo between 1970 and 1994 and is now a visiting scholar at Florida Atlantic University.

When restoration of injustice is costly, people tend to deny injustice by blaming the victims.

Quotes edit

Responses to Victimizations and Belief in a Just World (1998) edit

  • When restoration of injustice is costly, people tend to deny injustice by blaming the victims or by minimizing their hardships and disadvantages. In this manner, BJW-based motivation merges with people's self-interest.
    • p. viii
  • People, for the sake of their security and ability to plan for the future, need to believe they live in an essentially "just" world where they can get what they deserve, at least in the long run. It was further reasoned that being confronted with innocent victims of undeserved suffering poses a threat to that fundamental belief, and as a consequence, people naturally develop and employ ways of defending it. This may involve acting to eliminate injustices. But failing that, by blaming, rejecting, or avoiding the victim, or having faith that the victim will eventually be appropriately compensated, people are able to maintain their confidence in the justness of the world in which they must live and work for their future security.
    • p. 1

Justice and Self-Interest: Two Fundamental Motives (2011) edit

by Melvin J. Lerner and Susan Clayton, Cambridge University Press 2011
  • Decisions that negatively affect others, but that have adhered to all the requirements of rational self-interest, have been seen to result in serious emotional consequences for the decision makers. This regret, reluctance, and guilt, we argue, demonstrate the power of the justice motive.
    • p. 1
  • Decisions that were rational and justifiable according to social norms nevertheless have been known to leave the decision makers troubled by negative emotional consequences. These individuals, who have gone through great pains to act ethically and responsibly, may subsequently experience entirely unanticipated feelings of guilt, shame, and anger. Logically and ethically, by society’s standards they have done nothing “wrong,” and yet they are reacting as if they suddenly discovered they are responsible for someone’s undeserved suffering.
    • p. 222
  • Our subconscious processes do not recognize the “lesser of two evils” as a justification. Evil is still evil. To that one should add that the preconscious processes may define anyone who “causes” suffering, even “rationally justified” suffering, as evil.
    • p. 222

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