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Showing posts with label empathic concern. Show all posts
Showing posts with label empathic concern. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

I like it because it hurts you: On the association of everyday sadism, sadistic pleasure, and victim blaming.

Sassenrath, C., et al. (2024).
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
126(1), 105–127.


Past research on determinants of victim blaming mainly concentrated on individuals’ just-world beliefs as motivational process underlying this harsh reaction to others’ suffering. The present work provides novel insights regarding underlying affective processes by showing how individuals prone to derive pleasure from others’ suffering—individuals high in everyday sadism—engage in victim blaming due to increased sadistic pleasure and reduced empathic concern they experience. Results of three cross-sectional studies and one ambulatory assessment study applying online experience sampling method (ESM; overall N = 2,653) document this association. Importantly, the relation emerged over and above the honesty–humility, emotionality, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness personality model (Study 1a), and other so-called dark traits (Study 1b), across different cultural backgrounds (Study 1c), and also when sampling from a population of individuals frequently confronted with victim–perpetrator constellations: police officers (Study 1d). Studies 2 and 3 highlight a significant behavioral correlate of victim blaming. Everyday sadism is related to reduced willingness to engage in effortful cognitive activity as individuals high (vs. low) in everyday sadism recall less information regarding victim–perpetrator constellations of sexual assault. Results obtained in the ESM study (Study 4) indicate that the relation of everyday sadism, sadistic pleasure, and victim blaming holds in everyday life and is not significantly moderated by interpersonal closeness to the blamed victim or impactfulness of the incident. Overall, the present article extends our understanding of what determines innocent victims’ derogation and highlights emotional mechanisms, societal relevance, and generalizability of the observed associations beyond the laboratory.

The research discusses the phenomenon of victim blaming - the tendency to blame innocent victims for their misfortunes - and explores the role of everyday sadism as a potential determinant. The key points are:
  1. Victim blaming is a prevalent reaction when confronted with others' suffering, often explained by the belief in a just world where people get what they deserve. 
  2. However, recent research has challenged just-world explanations, suggesting emotional reactions play a role in victim blaming. 
  3. The text proposes that individuals high in everyday sadism - the tendency to derive pleasure from others' suffering - are more likely to engage in victim blaming due to experiencing sadistic pleasure and lacking empathic concern. 
  4. Everyday sadism is distinct from other "dark" personality traits like psychopathy and is uniquely associated with dehumanization, moral disengagement, and aggressive behavior. 
  5. The research aims to establish the link between everyday sadism and victim blaming across various contexts, including non-Western samples, and explore its association with reduced willingness to help victims. 
  6. Multiple cross-sectional and experience sampling studies are reported to investigate these hypotheses while controlling for just-world beliefs and other relevant factors.