The Just World Gap, Privilege, and Legal Socialization: A Study Among Brazilian Preadolescents


Bridging just world theory and legal socialization research, this study looks at preadolescents’ perceptions of justice across race, income, and education, and how these relate to perceptions of the law and legal cynicism. This article takes a novel approach to belief in a just world (BJW) research by analyzing the difference between personal and general BJW: Just World Gap. Drawing from a Brazilian preadolescent sample (n = 742, age = 12), results revealed significant differences between education and income brackets, with the Just World Gap being significantly higher in more privileged groups. The Just World Gap had stronger effect sizes across demographic variables than either BJW separately. Partial correlations were conducted controlling for education and income between BJWs (personal and general), Just World Gap, and perceptions of the law and legal cynicism. Results indicated that personal and general BJW were more strongly correlated with items concerning how people view the law, but legal cynicism items were more strongly correlated with the Just World Gap. This reveals the Just World Gap to be a relevant construct in studying the legal socialization and legal cynicism. Results highlight important theoretical considerations for legal socialization and BJW research.


Sociology and Anthropology

Document Type





Just world, Legal cynicism, Legal socialization, Preadolescence, Privilege

Publication Date


Journal Title

Social Justice Research