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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 203461 Find in a Library
Title: When Will a Victim be Secondarily Victimized?: The Effect of Observer's Belief in a Just World, Victim's Innocence and Persistence of Suffering
Journal: Social Justice Research  Volume:16  Issue:4  Dated:December 2003  Pages:379-400
Author(s): Isabel Correia; Jorge Vala
Date Published: December 2003
Page Count: 22
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Drawing on the belief in a just world (BJW) theory, this study examined the impact of an individual’s BJW, the victim’s innocence, and the persistence of the victim’s suffering on secondary victimization.
Abstract: Individuals are often faced with situations of serious losses or injustices that they seek to explain within their perception of how the world operates. Often, in seeking an explanation to a perceived unjust situation, victims of unjust circumstances either blame themselves for their situation or are blamed by others for their misfortune, which is referred to by researchers as secondary victimization. The theory of belief in a just world maintains that this type of secondary victimization occurs because people are attempting to maintain their belief in a just world. According to this view, innocent victims of circumstance should be more highly secondarily victimized by high-BJW individuals than by low-BJW individuals; however, this hypothesis has never been systematically tested. As such, the authors designed two studies in which the impact of an observer’s BJW, the victim’s innocence, and the persistence of the innocent victim’s suffering were examined to account for levels of secondary victimization. Study 1 included 137 management and social sciences undergraduates who answered 6 items of the General Belief in a Just World Scale and then were presented with a case study about a person infected with HIV. Study 2 further explored the impact of BJW by using a postconscious priming procedure in which certain knowledge units related to BJW were activated and measured. The results of Study 1 indicated an interaction between the BJW and the victim’s innocence founded on the attractiveness of the victim, while Study 2 indicated an interaction effect between BJW, the victim’s innocence, and the victim’s persistence of suffering on the derogation of the victim. The authors conclude that participants with a higher need to re-establish a high or threatened BJW victimize the victim more than participants with a lesser need to re-establish BJW, which is consistent with the BJW theory. Tables, figures, references
Main Term(s): Secondary victimization
Index Term(s): Just deserts theory; Perception; Psychology
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