Processing of Unjust and Just Information: Interpretation and Memory Performance Related to Dispositional Victim Sensitivity


Anna Baumert, Department of Psychology, University of Koblenz-Landau, Fortstrasse 7, 76829 Landau, Germany.



With two studies, we tested whether dispositional victim sensitivity involves one of two kinds of biased processing style: either a processing style in which unjust—but not just—information is processed more readily and accurately than neutral information or a processing style in which unjust and just information is processed preferentially over neutral information. In Study 1, victim sensitivity increased the speed with which participants resolved ambiguous sentence fragments in cases in which the resolution yielded an unjust connotation, as well as in cases in which the resolution yielded a just connotation, but not when the resolution was neutral with respect to justice. In Study 2, persons high in victim sensitivity displayed enhanced memory performance for both unjust and just information relative to neutral information over a 1-week retention interval. The results are consistent with the assumption that victim sensitivity is characterized by the activation potential and elaboration of both injustice and justice concepts. Our findings are important for the understanding of how the fear of being exploited among victim-sensitive persons shapes antisocial behaviour. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.