Belief in a just world as moderator of hostile attributional bias


Correspondence should be addressed to Laurent Bègue, LPS, Université Pierre Mendès-France, 1251 avenue Centrale, Domaine Universitaire, BP 47, F. 38040, France (e-mail:


To determine the protective effect of ‘belief in a just world for self’ (BJW-S) on hostile attributional bias, 379 adolescents aged 10–16 years, previously identified by teacher ratings as high or low troublemakers, were presented with a hypothetical frustrating situation where the intent of the frustrating agent appeared either benign, hostile, or ambiguous. The analysis indicated that the higher the BJW-S, the lower participants reacted aggressively. This effect was qualified by ‘belief in a just world for others’ (BJW-O), indicating that the negative relationship between BJW-S and aggressive reaction was weaker as BJW-O increased. An interaction between BJW-S, troublemaking level, and the intent factor, indicated for high troublemakers in the ambiguous condition that an increase in BJW-S decreased aggressive reaction, while this was not the case for low troublemakers, thus providing support for the hypothesized buffer effect of BJW-S.