Explanations for the Sources of Wealth: It Is Not a Just World

Jan Ketil Arnulf, Charlotte Robinson, Adrian Furnham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)


Five hundred participants indicated the extent to which they thought very wealthy people had become rich from four routes: three by personal effort (executive, investor, entrepreneur) and one by inheritance. These ratings were correlated with their demography (sex, age), ideology (religious and political beliefs), self-ratings, intelligence (IQ) as well as their beliefs in a just world (BJW), and their endorsement of conspiracy theories. It appears that most people are aware of the importance that agentic sources of wealth play, favoring entrepreneurship as the main pathway to extreme wealth. However, BJW seems to come in two versions: A “bright side version” indicating a belief that hard work and persistence will prevail, and another pathway linking agentic outcomes to theories of conspiracy. Intelligence appears to play an important role in this, but closer scrutiny suggests that IQ mainly serves to moderate conspiracy beliefs. Consequences for conspiracy beliefs and social unrest are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-221
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics
Issue number4
Early online date1 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Conspiracy theories
  • Extreme wealth
  • Iq
  • Just world belief
  • Self-esteem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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