UBC Theses and Dissertations
Two essays on perceptions of victimhood Strejcek, Brendan
In this dissertation I explore the consequences of perceptions of victimhood in two substantive domains: intergroup conflict between disadvantaged groups and consumer hostility toward firms. In the intergroup conflict domain, I examine competitive victimhood, which is seeing one’s own group as having suffered more than an outgroup (Young & Sullivan, 2016). In the domain of consumer/firm interactions, the service failure literature has considered consequences of service failures, such as consumer complaining behavior, and methods to recover from failures, but little work has considered the psychology underlying hostile reactions of consumers to firms following commercial interactions where service failure is absent. Hostile reactive attitudes prompted by victim framing provides a unifying framework with which I consider intergroup relations between members of disadvantaged groups and interactions between consumers and firms. Essay 1 explores the conditions under which disadvantaged groups engage in mutual derogation. Particular identities, often connected to perceptions of historical injustice or contemporary discrimination, suffuse social life, both in political discourse (Fukuyama, 2018; Schlesinger, 1998) and, increasingly, both the marketplace and the workplace. Historically, groups have mostly sought portrayal as powerful, as power signified virtue. However, in modern times, portrayal as a victim is one way to justify concern and extract resources, providing a benefit from competing for victimhood. I propose that competitive victimhood of this form emerges from a zero-sum perception that resources available are limited. Essay 2 identifies a practical consequence for firms and consumers of victimhood beliefs. Specifically, I investigate victim signaling behaviors (Ok et al., 2020), a stable individual difference. Across four studies, I demonstrate that victim signaling is positively associated with hostile reactive attitudes toward firms when service is neutral (compared to service failure). Essay 2 contributes to the existing literature on consumer reactions to service failure and individual differences in victim signaling behavior. Together, these two chapters show how victim framing influences intergroup relations and consumer to firm dynamics. I propose, and find evidence for, intrapsychic processes to explain the relationships between victim framing and competitive victimhood (zero-sum thinking) and between victim framing and hostile reactive attitudes (consumer perception of discrimination).
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