Belief in a Just World Lowers Perceived Intention of Corruption: The Mediating Role of Perceived Punishment
This paper investigates how belief in a just world influences the perception of others’ intention to participate in corruption.
Research shows that perceived intention of corruption may have an influence on people’s own willingness to get involved in corruption: when people think individuals in power intend to participate in corruption, they may become more willing to initiate corruption (Čábelková and Hanousek, 2004). In this light, Bai, Liu and Kou investigate how belief in a just world influences the perception of others’ intention to participate in corruption. They find that people who believe that they live in a just word tend to perceive less intention of committing corrupt acts.
As the authors pointed out, these findings have implication for policymakers: emphasizing the importance of maintaining justice can be effective tool to reduce perceived intention of corruption, thus eventually decreasing personal intention to engage in corrupt practices.
Corruption can be unfair and detrimental to societies; however, little is known regarding how individuals perceive corruption. We aim to understand how psychological factors, such as lay belief of the world, influence perceived intention of corruptive behavior. As corruption undermines justice, we hypothesize that belief in a just world to others (BJW-others) reduces perceived intention of corruptive behaviors. We conducted two correlational studies and one experimental study in China. Using hypothetical scenarios, perception toward bribery taking and nepotistic practices were assessed. In Study 1 and Study 2, we consistently found that BJW-others negatively predicted perceived intention of corruption, and this pattern was mediated by perceived likelihood of punishment. We further replicate this result in Study 3 by priming BJW-others, demonstrating its causal effect. The results indicate that BJW as one lay belief can be important in influencing people’s attitudes toward corruption. Implications for future research and anti-corruption policies are also discussed.
I.Čábelková & J. Hanousek, “The power of negative thinking: Corruption, perception and willingness to bribe in Ukraine”, Applied Economics 36: 383–397 (2004).
B. Bai, X. Liu, Y. Kou, "Belief in a Just World Lowers Perceived Intention of Corruption: The Mediating Role of Perceived Punishment", PLoS ONE 9(5): e97075, (2014).