Sunday, July 17, 2016
Blaming the Victim
Did you ever wonder why some people tend to blame the victim [In a victim- perpetrator conflict] while others blame the perpetrator? If not, think about it for a moment. Two psychologists also wondered why some feel less sympathy for the victim, using a woman raped at a party as an example. Their findings have been recently published In the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. While controlling dependent variables for political affiliation, gender or nature of the crime, the researchers discovered that there was a more powerful predictor of attributing blame-a particular set of moral values. For instance, in regards to moral values, some people privilege, favor, or are more influenced in their perception and thinking - loyalty, obedience and purity, while others seem to privilege or favor care and fairness in their perception and thinking. The researchers labeled for those favoring loyalty, obedience, purity and tending to be more politically conservative, “binding values.” Individuals with binding values tend to blame the victim. In contrast, those individuals favoring caring and fairness are less likely to blame the victim and they are called “individualizing values.” Researchers Niemi and Liane, in a subsequent study, set out to determine if the subjects of the studies perceptions regarding victims and perpetrators could be changed. 994 subjects overall were employed. The researchers had their subjects rate both the victim and the perpetrator measuring the responsibility for the outcome of the crime and how much a different response by the victim and perpetrator in their actions could have changed outcomes in cases of rape and robbery. Binding value subjects more strongly attributed blame and responsibility to victims. They also perceived behavior of the victim as significantly influencing the outcome. However, those subjects with individualizing values, perceived it differently and for them the reverse was true-the more the perpetrator was at fault. Niemi and Liane simply changed the position of the perpetrator or victim as a variable in their research to determine if one’s perception were influenced. If the sentence read, in a sexual assault description, “Dan forced Lisa”, the binding value subjects reduced blaming of the victim, the victim’s responsibility, along with the victim’s actions. In essence, more blame was placed on the perpetrator and less fault with the victim. The researchers concluded that victim blaming appears to be a function of one’s core moral values. They also suggested that subtle changes in language might influence perception and thinking. Assigning blame comes to mind with the recent killings of blacks and police. Moral [binding or individualizing] values might explain the actions of many, as far as attributing blame and responsibility. Research employing racism and prejudice as an independent variable might shed more light on the dynamics as far as the ability to empathize with a black that’s killed or a policeman that’s murdered. Certainly listening to the so-called experts in the media does not shed any light or insight into the problem. The media tends to perpetuate mythology and is likely more concerned with their ratings. Journalism takes a second seat to entertainment and sensationalism. So, let’s turn to science to understand more about victims and perpetrators.