Chair of Social Psychology

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Justice sensitivity and immoral behavior

Justice sensitivity is a personality trait that describes how people react to experienced or observed injustice. In our research we focus on one’s justice sensitivity from the perspective of the victim (short: victim sensitivity). People high in victim sensitivity tend to behave defensively in socially uncertain situations; to avoid being exploited, they are suspicious and behave uncooperatively and selfishly. In our research we study the social-cognitive processes underlying this effect and try to understand which environmental cues trigger fear of exploitation and maintain it over time.

Selected Publications:

Süssenbach, P. & Gollwitzer, M. (2015). Us(ed): The role of victim sensitivity in potentially exploitative intergroup relationships. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 18, 241-255.

Gollwitzer, M., Rothmund, T., & Süssenbach, P. (2013). The Sensitivity to Mean Intentions (SeMI) model: Basic assumptions, recent findings, and potential avenues for future research. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 7, 415-426.

Gollwitzer, M., Rothmund, T., Alt, B., & Jekel, M. (2012). Victim sensitivity and the accuracy of social judgments. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 975-984.

Gollwitzer, M., & Rothmund, T. (2011). What exactly are victim-sensitive persons sensitive to? Journal of Research in Personality, 45, 448-455.

Gollwitzer, M., Rothmund, T., Pfeiffer, A., & Ensenbach, C. (2009). Why and when Justice Sensitivity leads to pro- and antisocial behavior. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 999-1005.

Gollwitzer, M., & Rothmund, T. (2009). When the need to trust results in unethical behavior: The Sensitivity to Mean Intentions (SeMI) model. In D. De Cremer (Ed.), Psychological perspectives on ethical behavior and decision making (pp. 135-152). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

Schmitt, M., Baumert, A., Fetchenhauer, D., Gollwitzer, M., Rothmund, T., & Schlösser, T. (2009). Sensibilität für Ungerechtigkeit [Sensitivity for injustice]. Psychologische Rundschau, 60, 8-22.

Gollwitzer, M., Schmitt, M., Schalke, R., Maes, J., & Baer, A. (2005). Asymmetrical effects of Justice Sensitivity perspectives on prosocial and antisocial behavior. Social Justice Research, 18, 183-201.



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