Scientists from the University of British Columbia have investigated the psychological characteristics of people who like to portray themselves as victims. The findings are revealing.
What is virtue signaling?
Virtue Signaling describes the demonstrative display of moral values. For example, when someone speaks out against racism in an anti-racist society. The aim is to increase one’s own social recognition.
In addition, this gives you “permission” to express yourself on issues that, according to social consensus, are actually reserved for the victims. So anyone who is anti-racist is allowed to speak out about racism, even if he is white and therefore, according to the prevailing ideology, does not actually belong to any victim group.
Victim Signaling: Rise in the victim ranking
Victim Signaling, meanwhile, means that someone publicly presents himself as part of a group that is viewed by society as a victim group. For example, when someone makes a strong statement that they are black, gay, or transgender.
According to researchers at the University of British Columbia, the goal here is to obtain special rights through the role of a victim. It is used as a “social influence tactic” that is intended to motivate recipients to “voluntarily transfer resources to the signaler”.
Super weapon: Virtuous Victim Signaling
The combination of Virtue Signaling and Victim Signaling unites the properties of the individual phenomena. On the one hand “Virtuous Victim Signaling” can increase social recognition and unlock “discussion rights” that others do not have. On the other hand, there are personal advantages and special rights – for example access to decision-making bodies or the right to compensation.
The study’s authors explain: “A perceived victim signal can get others to transfer resources to a victim, but that the motivation to do so is amplified when the victim signal is paired with a virtue signal.”
Relationship between Gutmenschentum and psychological properties proven
In their study, the scientists tested which personality traits are shared by people who are particularly fond of “Virtuous Victim Signaling”. The result is the so-called “dark triad“, which is particularly pronounced. In psychology, this means the concurrent appearance of the characteristics narcissism, Machiavellian and psychopathy.
People with these characteristics are particularly manipulative, free of empathy and coldly calculating. Your personal benefit is your top priority. To increase this, they use all the mechanisms that society offers them.
Higher Chances of Fraud and Unethical Behavior
The researchers also found that people who frequently use Virtue or Victim Signaling have an increased propensity for ethically questionable behavior. Such persons are, for example, “more willing to buy counterfeit products” and judge counterfeiters less harshly.
In a coin tossing game, “virtuous victim signalers were more likely to cheat and lie to earn extra monetary rewards”. In addition, the test subjects concerned were more likely to make “excessive claims” in order to “justify receiving restitution for an alleged and ambiguous norm violation in an organization”.