Does Karma Really Exist?

Does karma really exist?

Karma is a spiritual concept present in several religions. Its existence as a universal principle is a matter of personal belief, not scientifically proven. You’ve probably heard phrases like “everything comes back” or “what you get is what you give.” These words reflect the belief that our actions always have consequences. This belief is known as “karma” and is characteristic of religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, among others.

But, the most important question is: Does karma really exist? In this PsychologyFor article we see what karma is, what science says about this issue and how long it takes for karma to act.

Does karma really exist?

From the Sanskrit ‘action’, karma can be defined in a nutshell as “the law of cause and effect”, where each action precedes a reaction. However, the meaning of karma varies depending on religion: according to Hinduism, karma is that energy derived from the actions of an individual during his or her life, conditions their subsequent reincarnations until they reach perfection and, therefore, affects their present and future life. On the other hand, according to Buddhism, karma is that energy or attitude that influences the suffering and happiness of the individual and, therefore, their path to enlightenment.

However, in the most popular sense, many people believe in karma as a form of moral justice that is, good actions lead to positive results, while bad actions lead to negative consequences.

But does karma really exist? The truth is that the existence of karma as a cosmic force It has not been possible to verify at an empirical level. There is no evidence to show that our actions have an exact impact on the future, especially if they are past or future lives. The perception that karma works can often be attributed to human psychology and the search for patterns and meaning in life events.

What science says about karma

As we know, science uses observation, experimentation, and hypothesis testing to prove or discard ideas and theories. And while karma does not fit these methods, we can find psychology and sociology studies that delve into why people believe in karma and how this belief can influence their behavior.

In psychology, thereinforcement theory » suggests that individuals are more likely to repeat behaviors that are rewarded and avoid those that are punished. This behavior can create the illusion that karma exists, although in reality it is a psychological mechanism that guides our behavior.

For its part, the «just world theory » postulates that people tend to believe that reality is fair and that, therefore, all actions have appropriate consequences. This belief can cause us to interpret random events as the result of cosmic justice.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology(1) found that People who believe in karma are more likely to act ethically and prosocial. This correlation does not prove the existence of karma, but it does suggest that relying on karma can have positive effects on human behavior.

Does karma really exist? - What science says about karma

How long does karma take to act?

Depending on religion and individual perspective, karma may take longer or less time to manifest. In some traditions, karma can act in this existence, while in others it can act in other lives.

On a day-to-day basis, the consequences of our actions may not be immediate and the rewards for good actions may take time to arrive. Sometimes karma works in inconspicuous ways affecting our inner peace and emotional well-being rather than our external life.

Furthermore, from a psychological perspective, the consequences of our actions are immediate in terms of how we feel about ourselves. Acting ethically can improve our self-esteem and emotional well-being, while doing the opposite can generate guilt and anxiety. In this sense, karma acts quickly internally although the external consequences usually take time to manifest.

Testimonies that karma exists

There are countless testimonies that affirm the existence of karma, many of which come from personal experiences. Although these stories are not scientific evidence, they can be powerful for those who experience them:

  • Deepak Chopra: This well-known author and physician has written extensively on karma. in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of SuccessChopra describes karma as “the law of cause and effect,” and offers examples of how our decisions and actions affect our destiny.
  • A study published in the academic journal Social Psychological and Personality Science (2) found that people who believe in a just world—an idea similar to karma—tend to be happier and more satisfied with their lives. This study suggests that belief in karma may have psychological benefits, although it does not necessarily prove its existence.
  • Louise Hay: This renowned author and speaker often spoke about how our actions and thoughts impact our lives. in his book You can heal his lifeLouise Hay suggests that a positive attitude attracts positive results, a principle that fits with the idea of ​​karma.
Does karma really exist? - Testimonies that karma exists
Image: AARP

This article is merely informative, at PsychologyFor we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to Does karma really exist? we recommend that you enter our Personal Growth and Self-Help category.

  1. Conway, P., Peetz, J. (2012). When does feeling good lead to doing good? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(3), 735-741.
  2. Li, NP, Johnson, KA, Cohen, AB, Williams, MJ, Knowles, ED, Chen, Z. (2012). Belief in a just world: Religious and psychological perspectives. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3(2), 140-148.


  • Hay, L. (1984). You Can Heal Your Life. There is House.
  • Lerner, M. J. (1980). The Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion. Springer.
  • Lucas, T., Alexander, S., Firestone, I., LeBreton, J.M. (2008). Development and initial validation of a procedural and distributive just world scale. Personality and Individual Differences, 45(1), 30-35.
  • Skinner, B. F. (1953). Science and Human Behavior. Macmillan.
  • White, K., Norenzayan, A. (2009). The role of gods in prosocial behavior. Psychological Science, 20(5), 594-599.

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