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Victim consciousness and its effects on intergroup relations – A double -edged sword?

Johanna Ray Vollhardt, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The current research examines how members of groups that have been victimized by ethnopolitical violence cognitively construe their group’s experiences, and how these construals – referred to as victim consciousness (VC) – affect intergroup relations. It is proposed and shown in three empirical studies that VC can vary in its focus. On the one hand, some group members may construe their group’s experiences narrowly, and perceive their group’s victimization as unique (exclusive VC). On the other hand, ingroup victimization may be construed broadly such that outgroups who have been victims of group-based violence are perceived to be similar to the ingroup, and thereby included in a common victimized ingroup (inclusive VC). I propose that these contrasting representations mediate the effect of ingroup victimization on distinct outgroup orientations; specifically, exclusive VC should predict revenge or competitive victimhood, whereas inclusive VC should predict increased prosocial behavior toward victimized outgroups. Three studies (correlational and quasi-experimental) test the underlying processes and moderators of the two proposed forms of VC across different contexts.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Vollhardt, Johanna Ray, "Victim consciousness and its effects on intergroup relations – A double -edged sword?" (2009). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3372282.