Virtuous victims

Jillian J. Jordan*, Maryam Kouchaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

How do people perceive the moral character of victims? We find, across a range of transgressions, that people frequently see victims of wrongdoing as more moral than nonvictims who have behaved identically. Across 17 experiments (total n = 9676), we document this Virtuous Victim effect and explore the mechanisms underlying it. We also find support for the Justice Restoration Hypothesis, which proposes that people see victims as moral because this perception serves to motivate punishment of perpetrators and helping of victims, and people frequently face incentives to enact or encourage these “justice-restorative” actions. Our results validate predictions of this hypothesis and suggest that the Virtuous Victim effect does not merely reflect (i) that victims look good in contrast to perpetrators, (ii) that people are generally inclined to positively evaluate those who have suffered, or (iii) that people hold a genuine belief that victims tend to be people who behave morally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereabg5902
JournalScience Advances
Volume7
Issue number42
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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