Competitive victimhood as a response to accusations of ingroup harm doing

Daniel Sullivan, Mark J. Landau, Nyla R. Branscombe, Zachary K. Rothschild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Accusations of unjust harm doing by the ingroup threaten the group's moral identity. One strategy for restoring ingroup moral identity after such a threat is competitive victimhood: claiming the ingroup has suffered compared with the harmed outgroup. Men accused of harming women were more likely to claim that men are discriminated against compared with women (Study 1), and women showed the same effect when accused of discriminating against men (Study 3). Undergraduates engaged in competitive victimhood with university staff after their group was accused of harming staff (Study 2). Study 4 showed that the effect of accusations on competitive victimhood among high-status group members is mediated by perceived stigma reversal: the expectation that one should feel guilty for being in a high-status group. Exposure to a competitive victimhood claim on behalf of one's ingroup reduced stigma reversal and collective guilt after an accusation of ingroup harm doing (Study 5).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)778-795
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Collective victimization
  • Competitive victimhood
  • Gender
  • Ingroup moral identity
  • Intergroup relations
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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