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Titel: Life stress, injustice, and the question "Who is responsible"?
Autor(en): Montada, Leo
Erscheinungsdatum: 1986
Serie/Report Nr.: Berichte aus der Arbeitsgruppe "Verantwortung, Gerechtigkeit, Moral"; 038
Zusammenfassung: When analyzing victimization by stressful life events, several questions are to be answered: Who is responsible for the stressful event? Which entitlements are hurt? Is someone to blame? Who is responsible for restitution or compensation? Answers to these questions are seldom given unanimously (they often change intraindividually, too, either as a function of external informations or of coping strategies). People have different and conflicting perspectives, beliefs, attitudes, value systems, ideologies. There are formal and informal negotiations about the answers, formal ones in trials, informal ones in everyday communication and interaction. The participants in these negotiations are victims, harmdoers, and observers. Until now, research on this topic has pointed to some puzzling phenomena, e.g., blaming the victim or denying being victimized. Theoretical accounts have brought forth some fascinating hypotheses like belief in a just world where everybody gets what he/she deserves (LERNER 1977, 1980), or belief in a controllable world (WALSTER 1966; SHAVER 1970). However, these concepts and hypotheses are often used post hoc for interpretation of observed phenomena. Perceived entitlements and responsibilities, as well as the needs for a just and a controllable world are not independently assessed. In many cases, it is open to question, whether persons after stressful events perceive themselves as victims of a blind fate, as victims of the actions and decisions of others (persons or institutions), or as losers in a fair play or a risky enterprise. The race driver, who suffers an accident, the gambler in Monte Carlo, who loses all his money, the AIDS-patient, they must not necessarily experience any injustice. Whether they feel victimized or not, depends on their perceived entitlements, which are established with reference to various rules of injustice, e.g., the rules of proportionality, of equality, of need, of legal, political, and social rights, or rules of procedural - 2 - justice. Certainly, there are situational and individual differences in selecting and applying rules of justice when appraising a situation (DEUTSCH 1975; LEVENTHAL 1976; SCHMITT & MONTADA 1982). And that again depends on perceived responsibilities for the disadvantages. Not every disadvantage or loss is judged as unjust, not necessarily because of repression of feelings or denial of injustice but because of a reasonable application of that very concept of justice. Some examples may illustrate this point. Bad events may be seen (a) as a just punishment for moral or legal offences in the past (e.g. failure in an examination which was not prepared carefully or legal punishment), (b) as a just compensation for undeserved advantages in the past (e.g. paying an extra tax when the own house was not destroyed in the war), c) as a retribution provoked by own behavior, d) as a consequence of a freely chosen commitment to a dangerous and risky enterprise motivated by the expectancy of highly valued gains, e) as generally imposed by social norms, obligatory for all similar members of the society (e.g. retirement or all the examinations which are an awful stress).
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11780/301
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