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On Mimicry and the Psychology of the Belief in a Just World: Imitating the Behaviors of Others Reduces the Blaming of Innocent Victims

NCJ Number
239756
Journal
Social Justice Research Volume: 25 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2012 Pages: 14-24
Author(s)
Marielle Stel; Kees van den Bos; Michelle Bal
Date Published
March 2012
Length
11 pages
Annotation
In this article, the authors examine the hypothesis that victim blaming can be significantly reduced when people mimic the behavior of the victim or even a person unrelated to the crime.
Abstract
Innocent victims of crime are often blamed for what happened to them. In this article, the authors examine the hypothesis that victim blaming can be significantly reduced when people mimic the behavior of the victim or even a person unrelated to the crime. Participants watched a person on a video after which the authors assessed the extent of their spontaneous mimicry reactions (Study 1) or participants were instructed to mimic or not to mimic the movements of this person (Study 2). Then, they were informed about a rape and criminal assault and judged the degree to which they thought the victims were responsible for the crime. One of the crimes happened to the same person as the person they previously did or did not mimic. The other crime happened to a person unrelated to the mimicry situation. Results of both studies revealed that previously mimicking the victim or an unrelated person reduced the degree to which victims were being blamed. Abstract published by arrangement with Springer.