Friday, July 28, 2017

Study: A culture of "competitive victimhood" makes people less, not more, empathetic to others.

Via Instapundit"Competition over collective victimhood recognition: When perceived lack of recognition for past victimization is associated with negative attitudes towards another victimized group"

Groups that perceive themselves as victims can engage in “competitive victimhood.” We propose that, in some societal circumstances, this competition bears on the recognition of past sufferings—rather than on their relative severity—fostering negative intergroup attitudes. Three studies are presented. Study 1, a survey among Sub-Saharan African immigrants in Belgium (N = 127), showed that a sense of collective victimhood was associated with more secondary anti-Semitism. This effect was mediated by a sense of lack of victimhood recognition, then by the belief that this lack of recognition was due to that of Jews' victimhood, but not by competition over the severity of the sufferings. Study 2 replicated this mediation model among Muslim immigrants (N = 125). Study 3 experimentally demonstrated the negative effect of the unequal recognition of groups' victimhood on intergroup attitudes in a fictional situation involving psychology students (N = 183). Overall, these studies provide evidence that struggle for victimhood recognition can foster intergroup conflict.
In the last decades, Western societies have witnessed a growing tendency of minority groups to profile themselves as victims in order to obtain more societal recognition (Moscovici & Pérez, 2009). Members of these minorities have publicly expressed negative attitudes towards other minorities, although the latter were not responsible for their past victimization. For example, Khalid Muhammad, from the Nation of Islam, stated that “The black Holocaust was 100 times worse than the so-called Jew Holocaust” (Muhammad, 1994, cited by Benn Michaels, 2006, p. 290), and “I say you call yourself Goldstein, Silverstein, and Rubinstein because you're stealing all the gold and silver and rubies all over the earth” (Baltimore, 1994, cited by Anti-Defamation League, 2013). Dieudonné, a French humorist of African descent, declared that the recognition devoted to Jews for the Holocaust prevented him from denouncing the victimization of Blacks during slavery and colonialism (2005, February 17). He was recently convicted for anti-Semitism in Belgium (Wauters, 2015). This phenomenon was described and analyzed by sociologists (e.g., Chaumont, 1997), philosophers (Ricoeur, 2007), and philologists (Rothberg, 2009; Todorov, 1996, 1998), who framed it in terms of competition over symbolic recognition. So far, this phenomenon has not been systematically researched by social psychologists.

Social psychological research (e.g., Bar-Tal & Antebi, 1992; Wohl & Branscombe, 2008) has shown that sharing a sense of collective victimhood can negatively impact intergroup relations. Moreover, group members can experience competitive victimhood, defined as “a belief in having suffered more than the out-group” (Noor, Brown, & Prentice, 2008, p. 481), which impedes post-conflict intergroup forgiveness. However, so far, this research has mainly focused on relations between former enemies, or between former victims and their perpetrators. And competitive victimhood has mainly been understood as bearing on the severity of their respective sufferings. The situation described earlier does not fit this description. In this paper, we argue that groups can compete over their respective victimhood even when they are not held responsible for each other's victimization. However, in such situations, the competition bears on the recognition of their victim status, over and above the severity of their respective sufferings. In turn, this competition over collective victimhood recognition can be associated with negative intergroup attitudes. Finally, in order to understand these societal situations, they should be framed as involving at least three entities: the two groups that compete over the recognition of their victimhood, and a third entity—for example, “society,” the government, or the international community—that has the power of granting or denying recognition.

(Link to more)


Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

The Sopranos addressed this in it's Columbus Day episode.

edutcher said...

Every constituency thinks its claim is most severe and is thus in competition with every other constituency.

Which is what the Lefties want. Everybody hates everybody else and are supposed to believe the Lefties are the only one who can save them from oblivion.

cliff claven said...

Normal people like variety. Autistic people loathe it. Southpaws is a good synonym for "lefties." We here are not autistic.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I'd have gone with the word "sympathetic" rather than "empathetic."

William said...

Some of my best genes are Irish, and my cultural identity is more Irish Catholic than all that other crap in my gene pool.......In the nineteenth century there was no country in Europe more benighted and impoverished than the Irish. They rarely owned anything more than the clothes on their backs. Malnutrition was endemic and starvation happened......So far as I can tell, hard times and deprivation didn't ennoble the Irish. They certainly didn't ennoble my family. They have all kinds of resentments and grudges that subvert the pursuit of happiness.....I understand that there is such a thing as victimhood, but what I don't get is the assumption that victimhood makes you a better person. It doesn't. It leaves you with a warped view and an unsteady balance as you try to dismount from the parallel and neighborhood bars......Victmhood is not a badge of honor. It means that your ancestors got screwed and that you're on track to perpetuate the cycle. As much as possible I try not to dwell upon my victimhood. I do, however, sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out without all that early poverty.

Methadras said...

In the last decades, Western societies have witnessed a growing tendency of minority groups to profile themselves as victims in order to obtain more societal recognition (Moscovici & Pérez, 2009).

This is the real money quote and it's explained simply by the fact that when these minority groups do that, there are politicians who see slobbering gobs of money at passing legislation that will fund said protection. It's all a shell game. Minority victimhood is directly tied to the amount of money found in being a minority victim for the sheer sake of your existence. That's it. If you are black? Victim. LGBTQABCD? You're a victim. Any other perceived put upon class? Victim. White? Not a victim, but the aggressor and the leading cause of victimhood in everyone else.

ricpic said...

Thumbs up on William's comment.

People should be allowed to suffer. For one thing many revel in their own suffering. For another, what can be done about it? Not much. Endurance. That's the ticket.

Saul Bellow, in one of his novels, tells the story of the Indian who fell into the Grand Canyon. After being knocked out he came to. He had survived. Laboriously climbed back up to the top. Went back to the tribe. Said nothing. Why say anything? Why complain? Exemplary.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I made an attempt at "Henderson the Rain King." I was awestruck by how it was both precise and beautiful at the same time. I felt like understanding it was making me a better person. Like all the hype about Saul Bellow was legitimate.

And then I got to the part where he's in the African desert and the cattle and I couldn't take it anymore. I started crying like a little baby and I had to stop. Never went back. That was years ago.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I suppose.

Story of my life.