Towards Making the World as Just as We Believe It Is: The Effect of Power on Helping Innocent Victims.
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Research on belief in a just world (BJW) has centered around negative reactions towards innocent victims. The current study is aimed at investigating what motivates people to help victims instead. Power has been related to behavioral activation and less deliberation as well as more risk taking and goal-directed behavior and decreased sensitivity to threats. An experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis that power can cause people to engage in more helping behavior in a BJW threatening situation. Results indicate that social power led males to help more than personal power did. Moreover, females showed opposite responses and the effects only occurred when BJW threat was high. Though no mediation was found, social power seemed to be related to a higher sense of control and composure and less strength and action. Also, females’ self-esteem suffered under high BJW threat, while males’ didn’t. Furthermore, for high threat and personal power, helping was negatively correlated with felt responsibility. Differences between male and female helping behavior as well as mechanisms related to power and helping behavior in relation to BJW threat are discussed.