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Dominant groups support digressive victimhood claims to counter accusations of discrimination

Danbold, F; Onyeador, IN; Unzueta, MM; (2022) Dominant groups support digressive victimhood claims to counter accusations of discrimination. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology , 98 , Article 104233. 10.1016/j.jesp.2021.104233. Green open access

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Abstract

When dominant groups are accused of discrimination against non-dominant groups, they often seek to portray themselves as the victims of discrimination instead. Sometimes, however, members of dominant groups counter accusations of discrimination by invoking victimhood on a new dimension of harm, changing the topic being discussed. Across three studies (N = 3081), we examine two examples of this digressive victimhood – Christian Americans responding to accusations of homophobia by claiming threatened religious liberty, and White Americans responding to accusations of racism by claiming threatened free speech. We show that members of dominant groups endorse digressive victimhood claims more strongly than conventional competitive victimhood claims (i.e., ones that claim “reverse discrimination”). Additionally, accounting for the fact that these claims may also stand to benefit a wider range of people and appeal to more abstract principles, we show that this preference is driven by the perception that digressive victimhood claims are more effective at silencing further criticism from the non-dominant group. Underscoring that these claims may be used strategically, we observed that individuals high in outgroup prejudice were willing to express a positive endorsement of the digressive victimhood claims even when they did not fully support the principle they claimed to be defending (e.g., freedom of religion or speech). We discuss implications for real-world intergroup conflicts and the psychology of dominant groups.

Type: Article
Title: Dominant groups support digressive victimhood claims to counter accusations of discrimination
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2021.104233
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2021.104233
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Social Sciences, Psychology, Social, Psychology, Intergroup relations, Competitive victimhood, COMPETITIVE VICTIMHOOD, OPPOSITION, PREJUDICE, IDEOLOGY
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > UCL School of Management
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10137728
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