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When saying the world is just backfires: elites' expression of the belief in a just world, perceived immorality, moral outrage and punishment wishes

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "BJW" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
city: MADRID
postcode: 28049

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Spain [ES]
 Total cost 158˙121 €
 EC max contribution 158˙121 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.3.2. (Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility)
 Code Call H2020-MSCA-IF-2017
 Funding Scheme MSCA-IF-EF-ST
 Starting year 2018
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2018-09-14   to  2020-09-13


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSIDAD AUTONOMA DE MADRID ES (MADRID) coordinator 158˙121.00


 Project objective

Saying that people get what they deserve and deserve what they get, can be considered as a moralizing discourse. Past research has shown that this “just world” discourse is well regarded when conveyed by ordinary citizens. The main goal of this project, however, is to show that it can backfire against those who enact it. Specifically, this programme intends to show that when financial/political elites resort to a “just world” discourse, it may lead to punishment wishes against those elites, including the use of violence. Indeed, nowadays the financial elite is stereotypically associated with white-collar crime, the consequences of which affect millions of people worldwide; and the political elite is perceived as their accomplice. It is thus hypothesized that when members of the elites, as well-intended and innocent they may be, say that people get what they deserve, they will be perceived as adding insult to injury. Compared to elite members who say that the world is unjust for people, those who say that the world is just will thus be perceived as more immoral; as a consequence, individuals will feel more moral outrage towards them and will wish them higher punishment in various domains (e.g., legal, physical, social). This is a very important issue - after the 2008 financial crisis, various European countries introduced harsh austerity measures. One strategy that political and financial elites used to legitimize these measures was to repeatedly accuse these countries, basically Southern European ones, of having lived beyond their means at the expense of the industrious Northern European. Implicit in this discourse was a collective “just world” one – those measures, as hard as they could be, were deserved. This discourse has contributed to a Northern-Southern Europe divide. This research, to be conducted by experts on justice, morality and emotions, can inform the elites about the political and personal dangers of that moralizing discourse.

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The information about "BJW" are provided by the European Opendata Portal: CORDIS opendata.

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