Here’s some fun new research looking at “the consequences and predictors of emitting signals of victimhood and virtue,” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The paper—from University of British Columbia researchers Ekin Ok, Yi Qian, Brendan Strejcek, and Karl Aquino—details multiple studies the authors conducted on the subject.
Their conclusion? Psychopathic, manipulative, and narcissistic people are more frequent signalers of “virtuous victimhood.”
The so-called “dark triad” personality traits—Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy—lead to characteristics like “self-promotion, emotional callousness, duplicity, and tendency to take advantage of others,” the paper explains.
Moral immunity shields the alleged victim from criticism about the means they might use to satisfy their demands. In other words, victim status can morally justify the use of deceit, intimidation, or even violence by alleged victims to achieve their goals. Relatedly, claiming victim status can lead observers to hold a person less blameworthy, excusing transgressions, such as the appropriation of private property or the infliction of pain upon others, that might otherwise bring condemnation or rebuke. Finally, claiming victim status elevates the claimant’s psychological standing, defined as a subjective sense of legitimacy or entitlement to speak up.