Justice and Self-Interest: Two Fundamental Motives

Justice and Self-Interest: Two Fundamental Motives

By: Melvin J. Lerner (author), Susan Clayton (author)Hardback

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This volume argues that the commitment to justice is a fundamental motive and that, although it is typically portrayed as serving self-interest, it sometimes takes priority over self-interest. To make this case, the authors discuss the way justice emerges as a personal contract in children's development; review a wide range of research studying the influences of the justice motive on evaluative, emotional and behavioral responses; and detail common experiences that illustrate the impact of the justice motive. Through an extensive critique of the research on which some alternative models of justice are based, the authors present a model that describes the ways in which motives of justice and self-interest are integrated in people's lives. They close with a discussion of some positive and negative consequences of the commitment to justice.

About Author

Melvin J. Lerner is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Department of Psychology of the University of Waterloo, where he founded the Division of Social Psychology. The majority of his research efforts focus on the theme of justice in people's lives. Much of that research has been summarized in several volumes, beginning with Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion (1980), which was awarded the Quinquenual Prize from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and continuing in several co-edited volumes: with S. Lerner, The Justice Motive in Social Behavior: Adapting to Times of Scarcity and Change (1981); with Gerold Mikula, Entitlement and the Affectional Bond (1994); with Leo Montada, Responses to Victimizations and Belief in a Just World (1998); and Current Societal Concerns about Justice (1996). In addition, Lerner is the founding editor of the journal Social Justice Research and was the co-recipient of a Max-Planck-Forschungspreis and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Justice Research. Susan Clayton is Whitmore-Williams Professor of Psychology and Chair of Environmental Studies at the College of Wooster. She has published extensively on topics related to justice as well as the natural environment. With Faye Crosby, she wrote Justice, Gender, and Affirmative Action (1992), which received an award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in the United States, and with Susan Opotow, she co-edited a volume of the Journal of Social Issues on 'Green Justice' as well as Identity and the Natural Environment (2003). She is also the co-author (with Gene Myers) of Conservation Psychology: Understanding and Promoting Human Care for Nature (2009). Clayton is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and has served as president of the Society for Population and Environmental Psychology.


1. Contesting the primacy of self-interest; 2. Why does justice matter? The development of a personal contract; 3. Commitment to justice: the initial primary automatic reaction; 4. Explaining the myth of self-interest; 5. Defining the justice motive: re-integrating procedural and distributive justice; 6. How people assess deserving and justice: the role of social norms; 7. Integrating justice and self-interest: a tentative model; 8. Maintaining the commitment to justice in a complex world; 9. Bringing it closer to home: justice in another 'American tragedy'; 10. Emotional aftereffects: some negative consequences and thoughts on how to avoid them.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781107002333
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 280
  • ID: 9781107002333
  • weight: 550
  • ISBN10: 1107002338

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