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5 November 2021 - 5 November 2021

1:00PM - 2:00PM


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How do people perceive the moral character of victims? In this talk, I will present evidence that across a range of transgressions, people frequently see victims of wrongdoing as more moral than nonvictims who have behaved identically.

In particular, I will present results from a recent paper in which we document this Virtuous Victim effect and explore the mechanisms underlying it. We also find support for the Justice Restoration Hypothesis, which proposes that people see victims as moral because this perception serves to motivate punishment of perpetrators and helping of victims, and people frequently face incentives to enact or encourage these “justice-restorative” actions. Our results validate predictions of this hypothesis and suggest that the Virtuous Victim effect does not merely reflect (i) that victims look good in contrast to perpetrators, (ii) that people are generally inclined to positively evaluate those who have suffered, or (iii) that people hold a genuine belief that victims tend to be people who behave morally.

Read the full paper here




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