Justice-Related Mediators of the Relationship between Unjust World Beliefs and Driving Anger

Author(s): James E. W. Roseborough, David L. Wiesenthal, Robert A. Cribbie, Gordon L. Flett

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Perceived injustice often leads to distressing emotional and physiological states, such as anger. The need to perceive justice is strong enough that we have developed a belief system to reduce the negative psychological effects of injustice. The belief in a just world enables people to believe individuals committing unfair or unjust behaviour will experience negative consequences. Increased endorsement of beliefs in a just world is related to increased well-being and decreased perceptions of injustice. Contrarily, believing in an unjust world is related to increased perceptions of injustice and increased anger. Previous research of unjust and just world beliefs on driving anger has yielded inconsistent results. The current study examined the influence of unjust world beliefs on driving anger examining two mediators: sensitivity to injustice and perceptions of injustice. 269 undergraduate students viewed four animated unjust driving scenarios and responded to items assessing cognitive and emotional responses. Results supported a dual-mediator model of driving anger suggesting that the belief in an unjust world contributes to driving anger, via its influence on sensitivity to perceiving injustice. This study provides a unique examination of driving anger that can contribute to driver training programs and traffic safety campaigns.