Beliefs in inevitable justice curb revenge behaviours: Cultural perspectives on karma

Namrata Goyal, Joan G. Miller

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Across cultures, people believe that moral actions have ‘karmic’ consequences. Do cultures share assumptions about how karma operates? Four studies (N = 1114) assessed cultural differences in perceptions of inevitability associated with karmic justice and whether perceiving karma as inevitable curbs antisocial behaviours, such as revenge. Study 1 found that Indians perceived karmic justice as more inevitable than Americans and reported lower revenge. Studies 2–3 manipulated whether participants saw karmic justice as inevitable (vs. probable), finding that both Indians and Americans in the inevitable justice condition reported lower revenge. Study 3 found that perceived punishment certainty for oneself (for enacting revenge) rather than perceived punishment certainty for the offender (for the offence) better explained condition differences in revenge. Study 4 uncovered that reincarnation belief related to, and explained, cultural differences in inevitable karmic justice, which subsequently curbed revenge. Research on karma can uncover a range of cultural differences in psychological functioning.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • fate
  • imminent justice
  • just world
  • karma
  • revenge


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