Why we believe that all morally good actions adds up to a reward and all morally bad actions add ups to a punishment


Just-world Hypothesis

, explained.

What is the Just-world Hypothesis?

Just-world Hypothesis is a concept comparable to what the Western world describe as “karma”. The Just-World-Hypothesis is this tendency to find reasons of moral fairness.


This belief implies that people believe in cosmic justice, in a sort of destiny or universal stability. Didn’t we all try to find meaning after something bad happened? That’s where sayings like “If you spit in the air it’ll hit you in the face” or “What does around comes around”. In the early 60’s Melvin J. Lerner conducted research to explain the belief in a just world. Research has continued and current studies have shown that this particular belief is correlated with less dissatisfaction in our life. It leads us to have a greater sense of acceptance.


A classical biblical example is in the book of Job in which he suffers from a series of misfortunate events. Terrible things keep happening to him. Then, one day his former friend tells him that the reason of his misfortune must be from his own terrible action. We often have these thoughts to rationalise bad things happening to us, we try to find an explanation for a disease, a death, losing a job, etc.