A recent series of studies reveals a strong connection between an individual’s tendency to feel victimized and their support for political violence. This research, which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Violence, sheds light on how personal perceptions of victimhood can influence attitudes towards violent political actions.
In an era where political tensions often lead to violent outbreaks, understanding the root causes of such violence is crucial. Past research has linked trauma, abuse, and relative deprivation to violent political extremism. However, these factors alone don’t explain why some individuals, and not others, turn to violence under similar circumstances. The new research delves into trait victimhood – a consistent personal tendency to feel victimized in daily life – and its potential role in driving support for political violence.
“The initial interest was sparked when I came across the first papers Arie Kruglanski and colleagues wrote about the Significance Quest Theory,” explained study author Boaz Hameiri, the Head of the Program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation at Tel Aviv University and co-editor of “Psychological Intergroup Interventions.”
“I always thought that while they conducted remarkable research and significantly contributed to our understanding on why people radicalize and engage in political violence, the theory was somewhat incomplete, as people can find meaning and significance in their lives through various means that do not necessarily have to be violent.”
“This gave me the initial motivation to try to understand what other factors might be driving radicalization and violence,” the researchers said. “I thought that the Tendency for Interpersonal Victimhood (or trait victimhood), a personality construct that I helped develop a few years ago, might play a significant role due this trait’s effects on the interpersonal level. So, I set out to explore this hypothesis.”
The research was carried out in three distinct studies, each designed to explore different aspects of the relationship between trait victimhood and political violence. [Continue reading…]