Skip to content

Study Links Rampant Victimhood, Virtue Signaling to ‘Dark Triad’ Personalities

    Unlike real victims, those with sociopathic traits are drawn to calling themselves “victims” so they can exploit guilt-ridden people, study says

    Kit Daniels | – August 21, 2020

    Image Credits: Manuel Breva Colmeiro / Getty.

    A new study says people with ‘Dark Triad’ personalities are likely to engage in “victimhood” and “virtue signaling” to extract wealth, attention and power from others.

    The July 2020 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology says that those with narcissistic, Machiavellian or sociopathic traits are drawn to calling themselves “victims” so they can take advantage of guilt-ridden people given the egalitarianism of Western society.

    According to the study’s authors:

    Fortune and human imperfection assure that at some point in life everyone will experience suffering, disadvantage, or mistreatment. When this happens, there will be some who face their burdens in silence, treating it as a private matter they must work out for themselves, and there will others who make a public spectacle of their sufferings, label themselves as victims, and demand compensation for their pain. This latter response is what interests us in this series of studies.

    The comprehensive study, which itself is a series of six studies, argues that because humans are generally motivated to help those who are suffering, this generosity is exploited by Dark Triads who exaggerate (or outright lie about) their victimhood for self-gain.

    However, extreme narcissists are more likely to engage in “virtue signaling” instead of victimhood due to their “grandiose self-views,” according to the study.

    Specifically, the study doesn’t suggest that every victim has a Dark Triad personality, just that people with malevolent personalities are willing to claim victimhood or to virtue signal to achieve their self-serving needs.

    “The downside of this proclivity is that it can also lead people to be easily persuaded that all victim signals are accurate signals, particularly when they perceive the alleged victim as being a ‘good person,’” the study concludes. “When this occurs, well-meaning people might allocate their material and social resources to those who are neither victims nor virtuous, which necessarily diverts resources from those who are legitimately in need.”

    “Effective altruism requires the ability to differentiate between false and true victims.”

    Leave a Comment