The Science of Blaming the Victim

Written by Jamie Allen Black

I’m still surprised when I see that people still “blame the victim.” Doesn’t everyone watch as much Law & Order as I do? Guess not.

This New York Times article shows that it may not just be stubbornness on the part of those doing the blaming – but directly correlates to their moral values. In a study published in SAGE journals titled, “When and Why We See Victims as Responsible,” by Laura Niemi from Harvard University and Liane Young from Boston College, we learn why victims sometimes receive sympathy and other times they receive not only blame, but actual scorn.

While I would have surmised the different reactions had to do with family background (and it does), or gender or political orientation (it does not), the authors instead found that the tendency to see victims in one of two camps is really about two sets of values constructs – binding and individualizing. After you read the article, let us know what you think.

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