Sense of justice in school and civic attitudes

Nura Resh, Clara Sabbagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contending that justice experiences in school serve as a hidden curriculum that conveys messages about the wider society and impact student attitudes and behavior, we investigate the effects of students' sense of distributive and (school) procedural justice on democratic-related attitudes: liberal democratic orientation (civil rights), social trust and institutional trust. The study was carried out among about 5,000 8th- and 9th-grade students in a national sample of 48 junior high schools in Israel in the 2010-2011 school year. The two-level data-individual and school-were analyzed by the hierarchical linear model (HLM7) program. Findings basically support our hypotheses: sense of distributive instrumental and, especially, of relational justice at school have a positive effect on liberal democratic orientation and on trust in people and in formal institutions. Furthermore, school (aggregate) sense of procedural justice adds to these positive effects and, in the case of democratic orientation, also interacts with instrumental justice and intensifies its effect on this outcome. However, these attitudes are also dependent on sectorial affiliation (Jewish secular, Jewish religious, Israeli-Arab), which explains a considerable portion of between-school variation in student attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-72
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Psychology of Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Israel Science Foundation, Grant No. 568/09. We thank Yechezkel Dar and Orit Ichilov for their valuable comments on an earlier version of the paper, and Helene Hogri for her editorial assistance.


  • Civil rights orientation
  • Institutional trust
  • Israel
  • School
  • Sense of distributive justice
  • Sense of procedural justice
  • Social trust
  • Students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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