Beliefs about Legality and Benefits for Mental Health

Laura Upenieks*, Ioana Sendroiu, Ron Levi, John Hagan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Research on mental health pays increasing attention to the influence of social institutions on subjective well-being over the life course. Yet little research has considered how belief in the promise of legal institutions may have beneficial effects for well-being. Through structural equation models of longitudinal data, our findings suggest that belief in the neutrality and fairness of legal institutions has salutary effects for mental health net of social and economic status and across individuals from a wide range of ethnic groups. By combining research in the sociology of mental health, cultural sociology, social psychology, and the sociology of law, we extend the emerging literature on the institutional determinants of mental health by including attention to law as one of the central organizing institutions of social life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-282
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of health and social behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • culture and institutions
  • law
  • mental health
  • system justification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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