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Tendency for Interpersonal Victimhood (TIV)

Bachelors degree in Psychology, Minor forensics, mother of 5, dedicated to making the mental health stigma dissipate as quickly as possible.

Tendency for Interpersonal Victimhood (TIV) Social Article Review

We all have met that person who always plays the victim; everything is someone else’s fault and not ever of their own making. No matter what it is, how it happened, or who is responsible, the action was always done to them or against them. They will even blame their own shortcomings on someone else. For instance if they knock over their coffee while talking to a coworker, it is the coworker’s fault for talking too much or for drawing their attention away.

This is a relatively new topic in the psychological world, but that hasn’t stopped writers from posting articles about their theories. TIV or Tendency for interpersonal victimhood is defined as a person who only recognizes themself as the victim (Gabay 2020) In one article, “Know Someone Who Always Plays the Victim? Psychologist Say its a Real Personality Type” names the four main components of TIV; need for recognition, moral elitism, lack of empathy and rumination (Perry 2020).

  1. Recognition is sought by these offenders because the more people who hear of their plight the more attention that is provided to them. They make it painfully known that they have suffered trauma at some point in their life usually from a young age.
  2. Moral elitism is shown when they refuse to take blame for their action believing they are truly perfect and infallible.
  3. Lack of empathy is displayed when someone else is the victim and the spotlight is removed from them. They will often find ways to return the story to them using more intense stories of victimization.
  4. Lastly, rumination, which is the process of repeating a thought process. These people will continually tell their stories of grand victimization again and again to anyone who may feel bad for them. People who suffer from these personality types are often very vocal about being the victim and are often detested by their surrounding peers. This is because if a person constantly plays the victim is often the center of attention in a negative way and often blames their peers for their life outcomes. They have also been known to falsify incidents to gain more attention to their plight. They also are known for retaliating against people who aggravate them.

This article is relevant today because this personality theory is very newly researched and has been overlooked for many years. These people tend to cling to one serious moment in their life when they felt victimized even if they weren’t victimized or had experienced trauma. This personality theory uses victimization as a weapon to direct the flow of empathy towards them.

TIV is considered a personality trait because it has defining moments relative to development of the personality. As our personality forms, there are several branches that it could take to make you into the person you are. Many factors such as genetics, environment, and predisposition are all part of the TIV psychology relationship. The biggest aspect is that it can be changed by self-actualization. Realizing that not everything is out of your control and that everything that goes wrong is not directed at you, can cause true growth and help the person move through their struggles.

After reading this article I was still left with many questions, such as, are there any known factors that have been proven to cause this issue? How many people suffer from this personality type? What is the way we are researching and studying this? Is it through experimentation or documented observations? Is this personality type subject to other personality types?

Tendency for Interpersonal Victimhood (TIV) Empirical Article Review

After being presented the social research conducted on the Tendency to Interpersonal Victimhood left a lot of questions in its wake. Turning to an article on the topic called, “The tendency for interpersonal victimhood: The personality construct and its consequences,” for the answers, I found many more interesting things to know about TIV. Unlike the other article which was aimed at helping people understand the effects of TIV on a person’s psyche, this article performed research into the topic with measurable results. The purpose of the research was to help understand the cause of TIC and what routes of care would be most effective for the sufferers of this personality aspect.

The researchers started by choosing to do eight studies narrowed down into 4 categories, Part1-a, 1-b, 1-c, Part 2-a,2-b, 2-c, Part 3, and Part 4. In part 1 the researcher starts their excursion by creating a baseline of subjects. These people were selected due to the nature of their perceived TIC and separated randomly into different groups.

  • Part 1 of the research contains 3 different facets of study; establishment of TIV constructs within its four dimensions, assess the internal consistency and stability over time, and effects on correlation in ambiguous situations.

    • Part-1a starts with research that is conducted thoroughly through a process of observation of exploratory factor analysis of the 4 dimensions of TIV; lack of empathy, moral elitism, rumination and need for recognition. This helps determine the baseline answers of the group. Every aspect of the experiment within Part 1 will reflect on the data found.
    • Part-1b continues with confirmatory factor analysis which is a process that involves the psychological test to determine if a construct is consistent with the researcher's understanding of the nature of that construct. This helps develop guidelines and focus on the intent of the test.
    • Part-1c is a test that focuses on the accuracy of the test and the repeated consistent result. This determines the true measurability of the test and how the data can be applied to find a correlation. This is usually called the test-retest reliability.
  • Part 2 of the research also contains 3 different facets of study; convergent and discriminant validities, personality dimensions, and role of attachment style.

    • Part-2a testing includes an assessment of the convergent and discriminant constructs.
    • Part-2b tests the validity of the scale developed to measure data. A consistent scale is important to ensure proper results.
    • Part-2c Find the role of attachment style in which the subjects were raised. This could help correlate the effects of attachment style and TIV.
  • Part 3 of the research focuses on the cognitive and behavioral consequences of TIV. How they respond to external stimuli and social situations can be a great determiner of how they are affected by this personality type. Negative attribution and memory bias also serves as a huge part of this testing phase. Such tests are conducted using the subject's willingness to forgive someone or actually seek revenge for the “wrongdoing.”
  • Part 4 of the research validates the importance of understanding, conceptualizing, and testing TIV to prove a stable and meaningful personality type. This test collects data to track the actual occurrence with the test subject when confronted with a situation in which they passed blame. The recorded event, either forgiveness or revenge was then scaled to determine the level of forgiveness or revenge taken.

The conclusions of the study seem accurate and appropriate. I cannot speak to the results themselves as I was not present during the testing. Upon analyzing the results, I feel that the scientist may have undersold the need for recognition as this is one of the very first characteristics of someone diagnosed with TIV. However, I found the results of rumination to be fairly accurate even though they were high.

This study had many strengths that helped the validity of the study. Firstly, it focused on different aspects of the same tests allowing different perspectives to be viewed and correlations to be made. They also used the same subjects throughout all the testing. This testing helps us understand and analyze the potential outcome of TIV and can also be used to discover the most effective type of therapy. There were also some weaknesses though since it is very hard to rate responses when they are unique to the individual. In this instance, attachment style correlated with the diagnosis of TIV, however, they found differences in the experiences they had throughout life. One thing became very apparent by the end of the study and that was that the negative behavior always prevailed and the subject could not understand their fault or forgive the other for their wrongdoing and almost always exacted revenge.

This study aligns with the social article above. The study indeed concluded that people afflicted with TIV have a real personality disorder and are not just “playing the victim.” There hasn't been much study into therapy for TIV but the suggested course is psychotherapy where you ask the client to reflect on their actions and help them discover their faults, learn to identify their coming, and how to cope with them. It is possible with dedicated therapy to use their “weakness” as a strength.

Personality Theories

Freud’s personality theory centers around the id, ego, and the superego. The id is responsible for impulses, the superego is for morality, and the ego to be the controlling hierarchy. All three of these factors are needed to have a healthy psych with ego running the show. There are many reasons that one part of personality may be stronger than the others and have a bigger influence on the self. This can range from predisposition to environment to experiences.

This personality theory is important when compared to TIV because it allows you to imagine what a life of high on id is like. Those affected by this disorder do not see what they are doing as wrong and bring no fault of their own into the scene. It makes doing what they want, when they want, so much easier when you don’t have to worry about the repercussions of your actions and can just pass the blame. They are not unreasonable though, and they have a good sense of right and wrong.

While Freud’s theory can be applied here, it isn’t a good fit. The id might explain why the person does the blaming, out of self-preservation, but doesn’t explain why they interpersonalize every action. The superego is moral support and the ego is like the command center choosing who to listen to. The ego seems to check out at this stage and only the id and the want to blame seem to remain.

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Carl Rogers’s theory of actualization features an aspect that fits very well when considering the tendency to interpersonalize victimhood. His theory claims that general actualizing tendency is the way in which an organism develops all of its abilities it needs to sustain and enhance the organism’s life. This tendency has 4 particular groups; organismic, active, directional, and selective. Organism represents biological predisposition. Active considers the motion of the organism in its everyday tasks. Directional displays independence from external control. Selective implies that all of the organism's potential isn’t fully realized.

When comparing these theories to TIV, I found that many of them can help explain TIV. Predisposition could come from genetics or occur during the young years of development. If the child witnesses victimhood, they could easily internalize that feeling. The active aspect of the theory displays the need to do something such as explore, create or seek food. TIV isn’t much different from your average human, they just tend to be overly secure in the wrong areas which allow for more conflict later. Directional implies that the organism will move towards growth. This is where we have our first disconnect. This is because the nature of TIV does not allow the bearer to accept blame in any form. If there is no fault or reflection there is no personal growth. The final aspect is selective which is fitting as there are many potentials that TIV suffers do not develop. For example, the average person can de-escalate a situation by sharing empathy or accepting blame even if partial. A sufferer of TIV cannot/will not accept blame. This often causes revenge or retaliation after a situation has occurred, usually escalating the situation further.

The final theory for comparison is that of Bandura and his theories of personal factors, behavior, and external environment. In his theory, he notes that behavior affects cognition. In the text, they give an example of a boy making friends with a dolphin and if the experience is a good one, the child will register this and something that they can do. Suffers of TIV probably had a very similar situation in which the reinforcement occurred after a negative activity. Such as a situation with siblings. If a parent favored one of the siblings over the other, it is possible that the child was blamed for everything wrong in the parent's life. The child witnessing this now makes the conclusion that everything is the sibling's fault and then advances that idea further to everyone being at fault. This then instills this godlike complex that nothing is ever the sufferer's fault and there is always someone else to blame. These beliefs can affect neurobiological processes such as hormone regulation. Healthy hormone regulation is essential for proper functioning. The excess or lack of can greatly affect a person’s wellbeing. In the instance of TIV, the belief that they are never at fault could potentially cause a positive reinforcement when the accused party gives up the fight. Many of us have struggled with toddlers, and the more you want them to do something, the less likely they are to actually do it. Eventually, your perseverance pays off and the child complies or the parent gives in and the child gets their way. When the child gets their way, even after a huge tantrum and screaming match, you communicate to your child that the action that occurred is acceptable. The same thing occurs with victims of TIV. In the instance that the accused does not back down, it is almost certain to escalate.

Personal Experience with TIV

I have worked in retail for a very long time. There are all different types of people and I have never worked with two people who were exactly the same. As soon as I read this article for the first time a person immediately came to mind. There was an associate that was hired for me as I was coming into the Store Manager position. She has lots of experience in the field, seemed determined to work and learn new things. We went about a week without our first incident. One night I was called at 6 pm by a regular customer who said the store was closed on a Friday night. Knowing that we didn’t close until 10 pm and knowing the key holder was new, I called her up to ask what had happened. She claimed to not know what time the store was supposed to close. When I brought to her attention that a quick call or text or even simply glancing at the hours posted on the door could have remedied the situation, she immediately turned on her coworker and said she had told her they close early on Fridays. I took it as it was and spoke to the associate that apparently told her to close early. The associate replied that she told her it was too early to close to which the keyholder responded “I hate closing, so we are doing it early.” This was new information to me so I went back to the keyholder who stood firm and the associate told her to close early. I wrote it off as a miscommunication. When I got to the store the next morning. All of the sidewalk merchandise was outside. This was a huge deal as we kept sewing machines in our rolling carts. Thousands of dollars could have disappeared overnight. Fortunately, they were still there in the morning but such an oversight could not go unchecked. When she came in for her shift, she started talking about how tired she was and overworked (she had worked 24 hours in a week). I told her that a keyholder comes with certain responsibilities that she will be held accountable for. This was when I lost the innocent game and got a full-blown raging anger machine shouting how it was all my fault that I didn’t drive out to the store last night to check. Unfortunately in retail, it can be very hard to terminate employees, so we have multiple sit-downs with the district manager and myself. Somehow he was able to be convinced that she hadn’t received proper training. So to help remedy the situation, I sent her to another store for her training. When she came back a month later things were so much worse. Now that she had been trained properly, “everybody” was running her work life because they were bad at their job. TO give you an idea of the quality of this person’s TIV, she actively cussed at her children and told them they were the reason she was unhappy and overweight. She also often told them that she wished they had never been born. She had no problem assaulting those little kids in public; physically and emotionally. It got so bad that I reached out to my RVP over top of my DM. When I apprised him of my situation he told me to document every action, every outcome, every conflict, everything. After 3 months I had an entire notebook full of times and situations that could be referenced to the timestamps on the cameras. This was when we got the “legal” victim. She told us she would sue for defamation of character, and blamed the RVP for poorly training their DMs and Store managers, and asked to speak to the president of the company. My RVP just outstretched his hands and said “keys” she threw them at him and then strung a huge string of profanities claiming that she would have all our jobs and have us arrested because her dad was a cop. When I mentioned to her upon leaving that we had video of her abusing her kids on tape she changed her tune slightly but was still threatening and blaming as the door shut behind her. She vowed to enact revenge several times. I tried my best to write her out of my life, but I still occasionally run into her in the small town where I live and I always hear her say to whomever she is with at the time “there goes the bitch that told a bunch of lies and ruined my life.” To this day she still plays the victim and goes through jobs faster than underwear and it won’t change until she accepts that she is the reason for her misfortune and now one else. I really expected revenge from her but the only thing that ever came from it was when I got kicked out of Rue21 because her mother was the manager and she said she was exacting revenge for her daughter. All I can say is I wonder what kind of cop her dad is and I shudder at the thought. This personality disorder could be hereditary which hopefully she doesn’t pass on to her kids.


Media article:

Perry, T. (2020, December 11). Know someone who always 'plays the victim'?

Psychologists now say it's a real personality type. Up Worthy.

Empirical Article:

Gabay, Rahav & Hameiri, Boaz & Rubel Lifschitz, Tammy & Nadler, Arie. (2020). The

Tendency for Interpersonal Victimhood: The Personality Construct and its Consequences.

Personality and Individual Differences. 165. 10.1016/j.paid.2020.110134.

Bem P. Allen. Personality Theories : Development, Growth, and Diversity. Vols. Fifth edition,

Psychology Press, 2016. eBook Comprehensive Academic Collection (EBSCOhost),

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