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Cultural Perspectives on Just World Beliefs and Well-being: Evidence from 45 sites in Asia and United Kingdom

Chobthamkit, Phatthanakit (2021) Cultural Perspectives on Just World Beliefs and Well-being: Evidence from 45 sites in Asia and United Kingdom. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87285) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:87285)

Language: English

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Belief in a just world (BJW) is the belief that people get what they deserve and deserve what they get (Lerner, 1980). Theoretically, this belief supports mental health. However, many studies have distinguished between beliefs that the world is fair to "me" (personal BJW or BJW to the self) versus people in general (general BJW or BJW to the others), and have shown that only self-related BJW is positively related to mental health. Unfortunately, most of these studies relied on Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, & Democratic samples (WEIRD: Heinrich et al, 2010). Some non-WEIRD studies suggest that collectivist (vs. individualist) populations may be more inclined to believe that life is fair to others, and benefit more from the belief. The present research examines competing predictions across five studies. These predictions were derived from the cultural generality hypothesis (that irrespective of cultural influence, self-related BJW is endorsed more strongly, and is more relevant to well-being, relative to other-related BJW) vs. the cultural specificity hypothesis (that non-WEIRD cultural influences make endorsement of other-related BJW stronger and more relevant to well-being, and self-related BJW weaker and less relevant to well-being). In Study 1, 177 Thai students completed various scales assessing personal BJW (PBJW), general BJW (GBJW), and well-being (i.e., life satisfaction, depression, positive affect and negative affect). As in previous WEIRD studies, participants endorsed higher PBJW than GBJW, and PBJW but not GBJW positively predicted well-being. Study 2 extended this study by also considering the role of Karma. Students in the UK (n = 345) were asked to complete PBJW, GBJW, belief in Karma and well-being (i.e., life satisfaction and depression). As in Study 1, participants endorsed higher PBJW and PBJW still positively predicted well-being. In addition, belief in Karma positively predicted depression. Study 3 (175 Thai students) further investigated the moderating effect of independent-interdependent self-construal. As in both previous studies, participants endorsed higher PBJW, and PBJW positively predicted well-being. Moderating effects of both Karma and independent self-construal were found. However, these were not consistent with the cultural specificity hypothesis. The first three studies suffered from lack of statistical power and reliance on single sites. Study 4 remedied these limitations by recruiting 7,304 student participants in 26 sites across Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It further examined the relationships between BJW and well-being (i.e., life satisfaction, depression, perceived health status and negative mental health) and also tested the moderating effects of cultural or contextual variables (i.e., multidimensional self-construal, belief in Karma, analytic-holistic cognition, and negative life events). Across all sites, PBJW but not GBJW was reliably associated with higher positive indices and lower negative indices of well-being, even controlling for belief in Karma. Moderating effects of self-construal and variables such as Karma and holistic cognition did not provide coherent support for the cultural specificity hypothesis. Findings were generally similar in Study 5, in which 3,895 students were recruited in 18 sites across mainland China, Hong Kong S.A.R., India, Japan, Macau S.A.R., South Korea, and Taiwan. The results indicate that even in interdependent cultural contexts, believing the world is fair to "me", but not "others", is associated with mental health.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Sutton, Robbie
Thesis advisor: Uskul, Ayse
Thesis advisor: Sengupta, Nikhil
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87285
Uncontrolled keywords: "justice" "belief in a just world" "well-being" "life satisfaction" "depression" "culture" self-construal" "Karma" "religion" "analytic-holistic cognition" "cognitive styles" "negative life events"
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2021 16:10 UTC
Last Modified: 20 May 2021 06:53 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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