Virtuous victimhood

This was an article of such sublime interest that I can hardly believe how well done it is: Signaling Virtuous Victimhood as Indicators of Dark Triad Personalities. It’s about how a seriously good income can be made from playing the victim since there are so many people about who love to minister to the needs of these phoney victims. This is the abstract, but read it all. As a bonus, unlike almost every academic paper I have come across, this is brilliantly written and as clear in its arguments as I have ever seen.

We investigate the consequences and predictors of emitting signals of victimhood and virtue. In our first three studies, we show that the virtuous victim signal can facilitate nonreciprocal resource transfer from others to the signaler. Next, we develop and validate a victim signaling scale that we combine with an established measure of virtue signaling to operationalize the virtuous victim construct. We show that individuals with Dark Triad traits—Machiavellianism, Narcissism, Psychopathy—more frequently signal virtuous victimhood, controlling for demographic and socioeconomic variables that are commonly associated with victimization in Western societies. In Study 5, we show that a specific dimension of Machiavellianism—amoral manipulation—and a form of narcissism that reflects a person’s belief in their superior prosociality predict more frequent virtuous victim signaling. Studies 3, 4, and 6 test our hypothesis that the frequency of emitting virtuous victim signal predicts a person’s willingness to engage in and endorse ethically questionable behaviors, such as lying to earn a bonus, intention to purchase counterfeit products and moral judgments of counterfeiters, and making exaggerated claims about being harmed in an organizational context.

Much of the paper is an attempt to test their proposition using various data sets. Not to everyone’s tastes, but interesting in itself. But this is the conclusion that comes at the end.

The obligation to alleviate others’ pain can be found in most of the world’s moral systems. It also appears to be built into the structure of the mind by evolution, as evidenced by the human tendency to feel distress at signs of suffering. It is therefore not surprising that many people are motivated to help perceived victims of misfortune or disadvantage. But the downside of this proclivity is that it can also lead people to be easily persuaded that all victim signals are accurate signals, particularly when they perceive the alleged victim as being a “good person.” When this occurs, well-meaning people might allocate their material and social resources to those who are neither victims nor virtuous, which necessarily diverts resources from those who are legitimately in need. Effective altruism requires the ability to differentiate between false and true victims. Credulous acceptance of all virtuous victim signals as genuine can also enable and reward fraudulent claims, particularly by those with antisocial personality traits. Our work raises this possibility and by doing so it advances our understanding of how the moral goals of those who seek to minimize human suffering can be most effectively pursued.

This is a pathology that is doing much to undermine our way of life since there is a sucker born every minute, and with population growth the way it is, we may be up to one a second. Our open borders policies have been the product of this wish to help others, but to allow wolves to come in at the door is seldom a policy that works into the longer term.

2 thoughts on “Virtuous victimhood

  1. Pingback: Virtuous victimhood - The Rabbit Hole

  2. Ministers at church see every weekend some exaggerating their suffering. When u visit these “sufferers”, u see they live better than what they state at church.
    Christians know well: be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). No one is Australia is broke. I’ve seen with my own eyes naked children go thru rubbish for food (o/seas)

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