Justice for all? Beliefs about justice for self and others and telomere length in African Americans

Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2018 Oct;24(4):498-509. doi: 10.1037/cdp0000212. Epub 2018 Jul 30.


Objective: Believing in justice can protect health. Among marginalized racial minorities however, both endorsing and rejecting beliefs about justice might be critical. The current research examined links between African Americans' beliefs about justice for self and for others and telomere length (TL)-an indicator of biological aging that is increasingly implicated in racial health disparities, with shorter telomeres indicating poorer health.

Method: Healthy African Americans (N = 118; 30% male; M age = 31.63 years) completed individual differences measures of justice beliefs for self and others and then provided dried blood spot samples that were assayed for TL.

Results: We expected that a belief in justice for self would be positively associated with TL, whereas a belief in justice for others would be negatively associated. A significant 3-way interaction with chronological age confirmed this hypothesis-among older African Americans, TL was positively associated with believing in justice for self, but only when this belief was accompanied by a weak endorsement of the belief in justice for others.

Conclusion: Findings underscore that for racial minorities, health might be best protected when justice beliefs are both endorsed and rebuffed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Continental Population Groups
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minority Groups
  • Social Justice / psychology
  • Telomere / physiology*
  • Telomere Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Telomere Shortening / physiology