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Measuring Victimhood: Developing a Victim Self-Ascription Scale
Unformatted Document Text:  DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ## Future inquiries into the effects of self-blame should examine the comparative importance of control- and justice-motivated considerations in explaining victim reactions to unpleasant situations. One implication of the foregoing argument regarding the comparative importance of justification and control may be that individuals will willingly self-ascribe victim status, accepting it almost as a badge of pride, where they consider their actions in precipitating their victimhood to have been justified. Hints can be seen of this pride and willing victimhood in the remarks of the male respondent above. A more dramatic illustration would be to extend the argument to consider cases of martyrdom. Martyrs are extraordinary examples of victims in that they invite victimhood upon themselves, and proffer their victimhood as an example to others. Inasmuch as they precipitate their own suffering, they do not meet the criteria for most idealized depictions of victims (e.g. Christie, 1986; Loseke, 1999; Davies, 1998, and see Amir, 1971). Indeed, the one fleeting study of the subject of which this author is aware among victimological literature suggests that martyrs will be the objects of contempt (Lerner & Simmons, 1966), a conclusion that seems incomplete on its face. Yet unlike other examples of self-inflicted sufferers, martyrs are admired – at least by some – for their selfless acts, moral stubbornness and, ultimately, simply for their suffering. The key distinction, it could be argued, is that martyrs suffer justifiably. In the words of Taylor’s 1651 Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying, ‘no good man was ever thought the more miserable for dying…. [T]he [Biblical] Martyrs were accounted happy, and their days kept solemnly, and their memories preserved in never-dying honours.’ (Taylor, 1857/1651: 128). In order better to understand the state of victimhood, further inquiries into the importance of considerations of justification and its possible interactions with attributional judgments should be Page 26

Authors: Davies, Andrew.
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DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ##
Future inquiries into the effects of self-blame should examine the comparative importance of control- 
and justice-motivated considerations in explaining victim reactions to unpleasant situations.  One 
implication of the foregoing argument regarding the comparative importance of justification and 
control may be that individuals will willingly self-ascribe victim status, accepting it almost as a badge 
of pride, where they consider their actions in precipitating their victimhood to have been justified. 
Hints can be seen of this pride and willing victimhood in the remarks of the male respondent above.
A more dramatic illustration would be to extend the argument to consider cases of martyrdom.  Martyrs 
are extraordinary examples of victims in that they invite victimhood upon themselves, and proffer their 
victimhood as an example to others.  Inasmuch as they precipitate their own suffering, they do not meet 
the criteria for most idealized depictions of victims (e.g. Christie, 1986; Loseke, 1999; Davies, 1998, 
and see Amir, 1971).  Indeed, the one fleeting study of the subject of which this author is aware among 
victimological literature suggests that martyrs will be the objects of contempt (Lerner & Simmons, 
1966), a conclusion that seems incomplete on its face.  Yet unlike other examples of self-inflicted 
sufferers, martyrs are admired – at least by some – for their selfless acts, moral stubbornness and, 
ultimately, simply for their suffering.  The key distinction, it could be argued, is that martyrs suffer 
justifiably.  In the words of Taylor’s 1651 Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying, ‘no good man was ever 
thought the more miserable for dying….  [T]he [Biblical] Martyrs were accounted happy, and their 
days kept solemnly, and their memories preserved in never-dying honours.’ (Taylor, 1857/1651: 128).
In order better to understand the state of victimhood, further inquiries into the importance of 
considerations of justification and its possible interactions with attributional judgments should be 
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