Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

Situational moral adjustment and the happy victimizer

Schmidt, Simone
Volume: 10
Number: 2
Pages: 253 - 268
Link External Source: Online Version
Year: 2013
Keywords: Happy victimizer; Structural development; Abduction; Moral judgement; Situation specificity

In this study we examine the possibility that the happy victimizer phenomenon (HVP), which is generally thought to be restricted to a specific period in middle childhood, also appears among adults. In contrast to other studies that explain the HVP as a lack of moral motivation or an insufficiently developed moral self, we propose to explain HVP in terms of a specific moral stage, i.e., a specific kind of moral reasoning. In particular we identify HV-typical moral reasoning with a sub-form of Kohlberg Stage 2. Adult usage of this moral stage is then explained in terms of situation-specificity. We also try to elaborate the idea of situational adjustment and to reveal the processes of activation and usage of previously acquired moral stage principles. Our empirical study shows that adults use HV-typical principles in specific situations.