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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 ## examined. By itself, however, the present study already makes a contribution to our understanding of the dynamics of victim perceptions. Most obviously, it begins an inquiry into how three dimensions of victimization experiences – harm, external attribution and injustice – can conspire to cause the outcomes commonly associated with victimization. Importantly, it finds that harm – perhaps the most commonly measured variable in other studies – is not the only consideration that should be borne in mind when studying victim reactions. At the very least, we should consider that the determinants of victim reactions are not one-dimensional and include questions of justification and, perhaps in certain senses, attributional judgments regarding causation. The impact of crime is not quantifiable simply in terms of the value of goods lost – a simplification adopted in many studies. Considerations of justification are also key components in victim psychology. 2 Conclusion If we are to understand the real dimensions of victimization, we need first to understand the nature of victim experiences themselves. The basis of most discussions of the scope of victimology and the admission of certain classes of suffering individuals to 'victim' status has been political rather than empirical. Inasmuch as they invoke the question of when individuals will perceive themselves as victims, however, an empirical opportunity arises to study the determinants of 'victimhood'. This paper attempts to begin such an inquiry. This study sets out in this direction. It asks what it is that we assume comprise victim experiences, and it examines the relationships between the constructs thought to comprise them and several typical outcomes. The results are surprising in that they indicate the importance of external attribution and the 2 Stylianou (2003) and other scholars of the perceived seriousness of crimes have begun to address this possibility. Page 27

Authors: Davies, Andrew.
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DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ##
examined.  By itself, however, the present study already makes a contribution to our understanding of 
the dynamics of victim perceptions.  Most obviously, it begins an inquiry into how three dimensions of 
victimization experiences – harm, external attribution and injustice – can conspire to cause the 
outcomes commonly associated with victimization.  Importantly, it finds that harm – perhaps the most 
commonly measured variable in other studies – is not the only consideration that should be borne in 
mind when studying victim reactions.  At the very least, we should consider that the determinants of 
victim reactions are not one-dimensional and include questions of justification and, perhaps in certain 
senses, attributional judgments regarding causation.  The impact of crime is not quantifiable simply in 
terms of the value of goods lost – a simplification adopted in many studies.  Considerations of 
justification are also key components in victim psychology.
Conclusion
If we are to understand the real dimensions of victimization, we need first to understand the nature of 
victim experiences themselves.  The basis of most discussions of the scope of victimology and the 
admission of certain classes of suffering individuals to 'victim' status has been political rather than 
empirical.  Inasmuch as they invoke the question of when individuals will perceive themselves as 
victims, however, an empirical opportunity arises to study the determinants of 'victimhood'.  This paper 
attempts to begin such an inquiry.
This study sets out in this direction.  It asks what it is that we assume comprise victim experiences, and 
it examines the relationships between the constructs thought to comprise them and several typical 
outcomes.  The results are surprising in that they indicate the importance of external attribution and the 
2
Stylianou (2003) and other scholars of the perceived seriousness of crimes have begun to address this possibility.
Page 27


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