Sachs, N., Veysey, B.M., & Rivera, L.M. (2020). Situational victimization cues strengthen implicit and explicit self-victim associations: An experiment with college-aged adults. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
Contextually salient social identities are those that individuals may not think of often but that may be temporarily activated by relevant situational cues. We hypothesized that victim, one of many identities people may possess, is a contextually salient identity that operates both implicitly and explicitly. To test this hypothesis, the present research tests the effect of a situational victimization cue on implicit and explicit self-victim associations. We utilized an experiment with a 2 (Victimization salience: yes vs. no) × 2 (Past victimization experience: yes vs. no) between-participants design. One hundred eighty-one undergraduate student participants were recruited and randomized into one of two conditions: (a) an experimental condition reminding them of a previous victimization experience or (b) a control condition whereby they did not receive a reminder. All participants then completed one Single-Category Implicit Association Test, and self-report measures of explicit self-victim associations and victimization experience. Between-participants analyses of variance were used to analyze data. Results indicated that individuals who were reminded of a previous victimization exhibited stronger explicit and implicit self-victim associations compared to those who were not reminded. This research provides initial evidence that victim is a contextually salient identity, which has implications for the factors and processes underlying identity formation, revictimization, and the prevention of repeat victimization.