The Dark Side Of Empathy: Why Women Are Blamed For Being Sexually Harassed

In the new research, published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly, two studies found that blaming sexual harassment victims is linked to empathy for male perpetrators. That’s right, men, in particular, are more likely to feel for the male harassers and blame the victim.

…Prior research has found that victim blaming also stems from our desire to think of the world as a good and just place. Psychologists call this the just world hypothesis, and it basically suggests that humans are biased to believe that people get what they deserve. It’s why when you hear that your neighbor’s house was burgled, you might assume they left their doors unlocked.

When we hear about sexual harassment or another crime, we don’t like to think that it could happen to us. Instead, it makes us feel more comfortable to think that the victim was somehow complicit in the crime.

… Instead of encouraging men to increase their empathy toward women, the researchers suggest that we should instead be focused on reducing empathy for male perpetrators. The authors suggest efforts should “include challenging media reports that give undue prominence to their professional accomplishments or that focus on how the man’s life will be negatively affected if there is a finding of sexual violence against him.”

The Dark Side Of Empathy: Why Women Are Blamed For Being Sexually Harassed


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