Cause and Effect in Victim Sensitivity: Analyses of Associated Social-Cognitive Processes

Victim sensitivity (VS) – as one facet of justice sensitivity – is conceptualized as a personality disposition reflecting a combination of a strong need to trust others together with a latent expectation that other people are malevolent and untrustworthy. Previous research has linked victim sensitiv...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Buchholz, Merle
Contributors: Gollwitzer, Mario (Prof. Dr.) (Thesis advisor)
Format: Dissertation
Language:English
Published: Philipps-Universität Marburg 2021
Psychologie
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Summary:Victim sensitivity (VS) – as one facet of justice sensitivity – is conceptualized as a personality disposition reflecting a combination of a strong need to trust others together with a latent expectation that other people are malevolent and untrustworthy. Previous research has linked victim sensitivity to a wide range of emotional and conduct problems that affect the respective individual as well as its social environment. However, there is still a lack of knowledge about how exactly VS shapes information processing and behavior. This thesis adopts a social-cognitive perspective on victim sensitivity in order to gain a more complete understanding of the psychological processes that drive victim-sensitive people’s reactions. To analyze underlying causes and effects, four studies were conducted that used timely and highly state-of-the-art procedures (e.g., eye tracking or virtual reality technology). Two important conclusions can be drawn from this research: first, the results confirm once again that victim sensitivity shapes emotions, cognitions, and behavior in a dysfunctional way. More specifically, the results suggested that VS is associated with hostile information processing (Study II) and contributes to even pathological forms of interpersonal dysfunction (Study I). Second, however, the present research also illustrates that it is possible to alleviate any adverse consequences of victim sensitivity. Study III, for example, found that individuals high in VS are able to overcome their habitual distrust if a sense of control is reestablished. In addition, Study IV demonstrated that persons high in VS allocate preferential attention toward information violating their negative social expectations, which might reduce these expectations in the long run. Taken together, the research described in this thesis extends our knowledge about social-cognitive and motivational processes underlying victim sensitivity and therefore has important implications for research on justice-related personality dispositions.
Physical Description:193 Pages
DOI:https://doi.org/10.17192/z2021.0115