The Psychology of Victim Blaming
A recent study found that males experience victim blaming differently than females. In fact, men often get blamed for not fighting back or not being strong enough, whereas women are usually criticized for being overly trustworthy or careless. Whether this is a culturally or societally driven phenomenon is unclear. But there is a common theme among all victims of violent crimes: the victim feels guilty despite the violence.
While victim blaming is commonly associated with sexual assault and domestic violence, it can occur with any kind of crime. This is largely due to the fact that many people automatically jump to victim blaming, whether the perpetrator was a child, an employee, or a stranger. It can also be due to the just-world phenomenon, which holds that we get what we deserve. It can also stem from rationalizing the situation in our minds.
One study conducted by George and Martinez found that participants of different racial groups were more likely to blame a victim than were non-Racial participants. The same study found that white participants tended to blame their victims less than Black people. In contrast, black women blamed a White man more than a Black woman, while the reverse was true. But these findings are based on a single study that manipulated the race of the assailant and victim.
In the study, researchers analyzed the data from four separate studies and found that victims’ blaming behavior was influenced by psychological values. They identified two sets of moral values: binding and individualizing. People with stronger binding values tend to put their group’s interests ahead of their own, whereas those with higher individualizing values are more likely to focus on fairness. They are both equally vulnerable to victim blaming and may even be influenced by their own beliefs.
A study of rape victims showed that participants who believed rapes are motivated by power and sexual motivation blamed their victim more if she did not resist. The opposite was true for participants who believed rape is motivated by power. Therefore, victim blaming may increase a victim’s perception of guilt, which can lead to a reduction in victim blaming. It’s important to note that studies of rape victims have a limited number of controls, but the results are still worth a look.
While the effects of gender on victim blaming are not consistent, some research indicates that males are more likely to blame their victims than females. And they also found that victim blaming varies by culture. For example, South Africans, Japanese, and White Americans are more likely to blame the victim than their counterparts. And while victims of sexual violence are not universally blamed, the role of the victim in the perpetrator’s behaviour also affects the gender of the victim.
Media coverage of an acquaintance rape is particularly problematic, as it promotes the dissemination of rape myths and a victim-blaming myth. It highlights similarities with prototypical stranger rapes, and negatively impacts victims of non-prototypical stranger rapes. In Bryant’s case, media headlines mimicked actual newspaper accounts. In addition to promoting rape myths, such coverage may also promote the perception of immorality in women.