Seeing bad things happen to other people is scary. One way to respond to this is to blame the victim - to look for some reason why it happened to them. But there's another common response, according to a new study published in Psychological Science.
The researchers found that people who believe in justice in the world also believe that a tragedy gives the victim's life more meaning.
In an experiment, volunteers read a scenario in which someone was injured playing soccer in high school. The soccer player ends up with a broken leg, has back problems, undergoes multiple surgeries, and can't go to school with their peers. Everything is resolved by the end of high school; in the scenario, the person is now happily married and is thinking about starting a family.
Each volunteer also filled out a survey that determined how strong their "justice motive" is - their need to see the world as just or fair. Then they were asked how much meaning they think the person's life has.