The headline was depressing and it was easy to picture what the study would show: People who get screwed over feel terrible; they get stressed; they have heart attacks. Life sucks; the innocent are punished; bullies win.
But take a look at how ridiculously lame the study actually was.
Eight thousand or so British civil servants were asked how much they agreed with the statement: "I often have the feeling that I am being treated unfairly."
And shockingly, the results showed that people who thought they were chronically mistreated had a higher risk of heart attack. The authors then concluded that "fairness is key to promoting a healthier society."
Aarghh! There was no independent, objective measure of unfair treatment. All this study says is that people who feel like they're always being screwed over are more likely to have cardiac problems. That says nothing about fairness; it says a lot more about personality.
How did these people get funded?
You've met that neighbor or co-worker, haven't you, who radiates optimism and grace; who's kind to everyone and is always exclaiming how lucky he or she is in life. Then you find out she was abused and beaten as a child; or he was tortured and exiled from his home country; or that there was a child who died in infancy or or a period of homelessness or some terrible disease or any number of other misfortunes. But this person feels lucky and blessed.
And you contrast their situation with that of another co-worker or neighbor: one who grew up with every advantage; one who has powerful and influential protectors, yet whose hostility and sense of entitlement poisons every relationship and interaction he or she engages in. This person complains constantly of injustice.
If you live in the real world, you know very well who has "really" been treated unfairly. But the people who designed this study sure don't.
This is not to say that unfairness is a good thing. Unfairness is very, very bad. And it may well cause heart attacks. But jeez, scientists, you can do way better than this.