Rejecting victims of misfortune reduces delay discounting

Mitchell J. Callan, Annelie J. Harvey, Robbie M. Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (SciVal)


The derogation of innocent victims may bolster perceivers' implicit faith that the world is a just place. A key theoretical outcome of this faith is the ability to put aside smaller, short-term rewards for larger, long-term rewards. The empirical relation between victim derogation and participants' preferences for smaller-sooner versus larger-later rewards was examined in two studies using delay-discounting paradigms. In Study 1 (n=381), the more college students and Internet users derogated a victim of misfortune, the less they subsequently discounted larger-later rewards, but only when their faith in justice was threatened (perpetrators of the misfortune were unpunished). In Study 2 (n=238), informing Internet users that a victim was of bad (versus good) moral character decreased delay discounting. These results demonstrate that derogating victims of misfortune, although damaging to others, yields an important psychological benefit for the self by putting aside smaller-sooner rewards for larger-later rewards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-44
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Early online date11 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Belief in a just world
  • Delay discounting
  • Justice motivation
  • Victim derogation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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