Research Shows Secondary Victimization More Likely within Ingroup

Summary of:

Maribondo Albuquerque, I., Rosas Torres, A. R., Álvaro Estramiana, J. L., & Garrido Luque, A. (2019). Influence of group membership, moral values and belief in a just world in blaming the victim. Trends in Psychology, 27(4). https://doi.org/10.9788/tp2019.4-15 

Background & Theory

The authors summarize their research in their 2019 article to highlight the connections between a victim’s group membership and secondary victimization, evaluating the impact of Moral Values and a Just World Belief System on these connections. The article also addresses the larger picture of violence against women.

Research Questions

The purpose of this article is to answer the following questions:

  1. Is there a connection between secondary victimization and those of the ingroup vs. the outgroup?
  2. Do binding values vs. individualizing values affect this connection and how?
  3. Does a Just World Belief system in alignment with binding values create an even worse scenario of secondary victimization?

Methods

To answer the three questions above, the authors performed three different studies (all of which included non-probabilistic, snowball type group samples). The data for all three studies was evaluated using a SPSS software (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences), version 20.

Study 1: Study 1 included 250 people who answered a Survey Monkey questionnaire as it related to answering the first question. All individuals were from Spain, aged 17-67, with 52% female/48% male. There was randomization amongst the group where the focus was on an ingroup member (Spanish) vs. an outgroup member (Cuban) who was in a rape situation, and the group had to answer the questionnaire over how much the victim was at fault.

Study 2: Study 2 included 117 people who answered a Survey Monkey questionnaire as it related to answering the first question. All individuals were from Spain, aged 18-55, with 59% female/41% male. The survey used this time was a version of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire, which focused on 5 areas: loyalty, authority, purity, harm, and fairness. These 5 are split into two groups (binding [loyalty, authority, purity] vs. individualizing values [harm, fairness]). 

Study 3: Study 3 included 258 people who answered a Survey Monkey questionnaire as it related to answering the first question. All individuals were from Spain, aged 18-58, with 57.4% female/43.6% male. This group was issued the same questionnaires as those in Study 1 and Study 2, as well as a third questionnaire similar to the Lipkus scale that focused on a Just World Belief system.

Results

The results showed that the authors’ hypotheses were true — a victim within the ingroup is more likely to be subjected to secondary victimization, especially when there are binding moral values and a Just World Belief system. The results also explain that the derogation of a victim within the ingroup is not entirely at the cognitive level. The questionnaires show greater bias here when in alignment with a Just World Belief system. The results further show that this is not gender-specific and this secondary victimization is rooted culturally for both men and women. There are several limitations to this study as it relates to the group sampled and their specific life experiences, the circumstances of the situations questioned, and the potential impact of individualism. 

What This Means

  • This research supports that unfortunately, women of the same ingroup experience more secondary victimization than someone of an outgroup, especially when there are binding values and a Just World Belief system at play.
  • This research implies that efforts to stop violence against women should include the psychosocial processes at play that greatly impact the views many hold in light of this subject.
  • We may be more biased against those we understand best, and it’s not always a conscious decision.
  • Bias and secondary victimization both contribute to creating further conflict and keeping the cycles going.

Final Takeaway

For consultants: Assist your clients in fully understanding their biases and how they view the world. When dealing with conflict with those closest to us, it’s possible we are more biased against them then we would be someone else. Understanding this and trying to undo this may be helpful in coming to a resolution.

For everyone: Be aware of your unconscious bias, and when this is causing more conflict. Aim to be kind and fair, and aware of when your views victimize someone who may not be at fault.