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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 ## studied here. Naturally, I do not assume that all victimization events so called were actually experienced as such by subjects. In fact, it is precisely this possibility that the paper is intended to examine. Victimization experiences: A Descriptive Framework In order to study the structure of experiences of victimhood, it is necessary to assume that such experiences have psychological coherence. That is to say, it is necessary to argue that victimhood itself has a psychology, and that being a victim is a psychological state as much as a legal one with identifiable psychological characteristics. It is assumed here that victimhood is a state that follows logically from an assessment (however arbitrary) by an individual that they have suffered some victimizing event. The first issue in understanding when an individual enters into a state of victimhood, then, is describing the nature of their perception of this event. How must an event be perceived for an individual to conceive of it as a victimization? A descriptive theory of the psychological of victimizing events is thus required. Based on existing work, I argue that victimizing events are those characterized (in the view of victims) by three features. First, they are harmful experiences since, by definition, victims have suffered pain, loss or some other indignity. Not all painful experiences are victimizations, however. A gambler who loses all their money does not seem to be a victim as much as someone who has had it all stolen by a thief. Second, then, victimizations must not be the result of the victim's own behavior. Yet even when these two criteria are met, not all cases where individuals are subjected to harm inflicted by others (or by accident) are victimizations. At times, such harms are considered justified, as in the case of the punishment of wrongdoers. The third criterion, then, is that in victimizations the harm inflicted must Page 4

Authors: Davies, Andrew.
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DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ##
studied here.  Naturally, I do not assume that all victimization events so called were actually 
experienced as such by subjects.  In fact, it is precisely this possibility that the paper is intended to 
examine.
Victimization experiences: A Descriptive Framework
In order to study the structure of experiences of victimhood, it is necessary to assume that such 
experiences have psychological coherence.  That is to say, it is necessary to argue that victimhood itself 
has a psychology, and that being a victim is a psychological state as much as a legal one with 
identifiable psychological characteristics.  It is assumed here that victimhood is a state that follows 
logically from an assessment (however arbitrary) by an individual that they have suffered some 
victimizing event.  The first issue in understanding when an individual enters into a state of 
victimhood, then, is describing the nature of their perception of this event.  How must an event be 
perceived for an individual to conceive of it as a victimization?  A descriptive theory of the 
psychological of victimizing events is thus required.
Based on existing work, I argue that victimizing events are those characterized (in the view of victims) 
by three features.  First, they are harmful experiences since, by definition, victims have suffered pain, 
loss or some other indignity.  Not all painful experiences are victimizations, however.  A gambler who 
loses all their money does not seem to be a victim as much as someone who has had it all stolen by a 
thief.  Second, then, victimizations must not be the result of the victim's own behavior.  Yet even when 
these two criteria are met, not all cases where individuals are subjected to harm inflicted by others (or 
by accident) are victimizations.  At times, such harms are considered justified, as in the case of the 
punishment of wrongdoers.  The third criterion, then, is that in victimizations the harm inflicted must 
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