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Study: Intersectionality Makes People Less Empathetic

By  Elliott Hamilton

The European Journal of Social Psychology published a paper that argues that competition of collective victimhood, also known as intersectionality, results in a lack of empathy for others. The researchers ran three studies in Belgium to measure whether identification with collective victimhood resulted in less favorability to other groups. The study’s abstract read as follows:

Groups that perceive themselves as victims can engage in “competitive victimhood.” We propose that, in some societal circumstances, this competition bears on the recognition of past sufferings—rather than on their relative severity—fostering negative intergroup attitudes. Three studies are presented. Study 1, a survey among Sub-Saharan African immigrants in Belgium (N = 127), showed that a sense of collective victimhood was associated with more secondary anti-Semitism. This effect was mediated by a sense of lack of victimhood recognition, then by the belief that this lack of recognition was due to that of Jews’ victimhood, but not by competition over the severity of the sufferings. Study 2 replicated this mediation model among Muslim immigrants (N = 125). Study 3 experimentally demonstrated the negative effect of the unequal recognition of groups’ victimhood on intergroup attitudes in a fictional situation involving psychology students (N = 183). Overall, these studies provide evidence that struggle for victimhood recognition can foster intergroup conflict.

The researchers defined “competitive victimhood” as the act of various individuals trying to rank their identity group’s suffering in comparison with another group’s suffering. As noted in the study, social scientists have found evidence that such activities result in intergroup conflicts. The researchers explained their paper’s argument as such:

[W]e argue that groups can compete over their respective victimhood even when they are not held responsible for each other’s victimization. However, in such situations, the competition bears on the recognition of their victim status, over and above the severity of their respective sufferings. In turn, this competition over collective victimhood recognition can be associated with negative intergroup attitudes.

The results of the study demonstrated that when polling a group of Sub-Saharan Africans on their views of Jews and a group of Muslims on their views of Jews, their views toward Jews worsened when comparing their respective cases of victimhood with the Jews.

Studies 1 and 2 investigated these processes among members of two minority groups (Sub-Saharan African immigrants and Muslims) focusing on their attitudes towards another minority group (Jews). In these two studies, the expected association between sense of collective victimhood and negative attitudes—secondary anti-Semitism in both studies and primary anti-Semitism only in Study 2—towards an out-group that was not involved in the historical victimization of the in-group was obtained. Further, these studies showed that this association was explained through a path involving a sense of lack of societal recognition for in-group victimhood, associated with the attribution of this lack of in-group recognition to out-group recognition. Competitive victimhood (over the severity of groups’ sufferings) was positively associated with all the variables of interest in both studies and with both primary and secondary anti-Semitism. However, in Study 1, and in Study 2 when secondary anti-Semitism was measured, it did not contribute to mediate this link over and above these two variables bearing on recognition. Yet, in Study 2, when primary anti-Semitism was measured among Muslim participants, competitive victimhood proved to be a better mediator than the “recognition” causal path. However, this latter path, as well as other paths involving recognition variables, still significantly and independently mediated the effect. This suggests that the competition bore on the societal recognition of in-group victimhood rather than on the severity of the suffering itself. Moreover, these effects were obtained while controlling for the effect of in-group identification, and only for the out-group perceived as benefitting from more victimhood recognition.

The third study, which had various individuals arguing over a fictitious scenario, also resulted in intergroup animosity over competition of victimhood. Thus, the researchers drew the following conclusion:

Overall, these three studies provide evidence that concerns over the societal recognition of collective victimhood can be associated with intergroup animosity. In some societal contexts, in which formerly victimized groups that have no common history of intergroup conflict live in the same society and do not compete for other reasons, competition over collective victimhood recognition can be the main, or even the sole, source of intergroup tension. In other settings, it can be one factor among others, or play no role, such as in dyadic post-conflict situations.

The underpinnings of much the modern-day Oppression Olympics comes in the form of intersectionality, which argues that various forms of oppression against minority groups are interconnected. The intention was to create coalitions of people to understand where other people come from and how their experiences and their identity could help defeat The System. This creates various ghost-like figures, such as “The Patriarchy” or “the Zionists,” who are responsible for the oppression of others. However, intersectionality has forced people of different backgrounds to compete as to who has been oppressed more and for others to get in line if their identity could possibly result in someone else’s poor fortune.

Not only is this idea categorically stupid, but it has been clinically proven to create less empathetic individuals. Ask any conservative on a college campus if this makes sense and they would have a two-word answer: No s**t.

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