Justice motive effects in ageism: The effects of a victim's age on observer perceptions of injustice and punishment judgments

Mitchell J. Callan, Rael J. Dawtry, James M Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Drawing on just-world theory and research showing that older persons are generally assigned a devalued status in society, we examined the impact of an innocent victim's age on observer perceptions of injustice and punishment reactions. In three experiments, we demonstrated that observers perceived the suffering of an older (vs. younger) person as less unfair, which, in turn, reduced their willingness to punish the harm doer. In Study 1, participants rated a car accident as less unfair and consequently punished the harm doer less when the victim was older. In Study 2, participants recommended punishing a harm doer less when the victim was older (vs. younger) when the need to believe in a just world was threatened (i.e., only when the victim was innocent). In Study 3, only participants higher in ageism perceived the suffering of an older (vs. younger) victim as less unfair and, consequently, recommended less punishment for the harm doer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1343-1349
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume48
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012

Keywords

  • Ageism
  • Justice motivation
  • Perceived injustice
  • Punishment judgments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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