The tendency to feel victimized is associated with lower levels of entrepreneurship, according to a study

In society, the trope “from rags to riches” is widespread. Entrepreneurship is often associated with success, so research has focused heavily on understanding the traits that make a successful entrepreneur. A study published in frontiers in psychology examines the relationship between trait victimhood and entrepreneurial tendencies.

Entrepreneurship can be associated with success in today’s society. Associated personality traits include self-efficacy, independence, motivation, risk-taking, optimism, and more. Trait victimhood, or viewing oneself as a victim to the extent that it becomes a central part of one’s identity, is an intuitively opposed concept. The authors of this study attempted to take first steps towards exploring a relationship between entrepreneurship and victimhood, with the hypothesis that these two concepts would be negatively related.

“Entrepreneurship is a powerful socio-economic driver for individuals, organizations and even entire nations. Researchers and practitioners have been exploring ways to recognize and nurture people’s entrepreneurial potential for some time,” said study author Yossi Maaravi, dean of the Adelson School of Entrepreneurship at Reichman University.

victim role is a newly explored term associated with increased sensitivity to the hurt or unreliability of others. Such sensitivity can help people avoid being hurt by others, but we suspected it might also lead to a reduced entrepreneurial propensity.”

Maaravi and his colleagues split this research into two separate studies. For Study 1, 208 Israeli undergraduate entrepreneurship students were interviewed. They completed measures on trait victimhood, entrepreneurial tendencies and behavioral entrepreneurship. Study 2 used 354 Jewish Israeli adults. They completed online measurements of trait victimhood, global self-efficacy, and behavioral entrepreneurship.

Study 1 showed that victimization of traits was negatively related to entrepreneurial tendencies but not at all to behavioral entrepreneurship. Researchers recognized that this may be due to only surveying entrepreneurship students, who show lower levels of trait victimhood overall. Study 2 attempted to address this major limitation by using a more general population.

Interestingly, Study 2 showed that trait victimhood and behavioral entrepreneurship were also not significantly associated, but global self-efficacy was positively correlated with behavioral entrepreneurship. Being a victim was negatively associated with entrepreneurship among participants with low global self-efficacy, but not among participants with high self-efficacy. This research implies that empowering self-efficacy is helpful for entrepreneurship even when one sees oneself as a victim.

“It seems that the entrepreneurial streak doesn’t come with an ongoing focus on how others have wronged you. However, self-efficacy (the perception that you are competent and capable) can negate the adverse effects of trait victimhood and encourage the entrepreneurial tendency,” Maaravi told PsyPost.

This study attempted to understand the relationship between entrepreneurial behavior and victimhood. While it has taken positive first steps in this direction, it also brings limitations. First, this study is correlational, so causal relationships are outside the scope of this research and would need to be followed up experimentally.

“We measured people’s characteristics and examined their associations,” Maaravi explained. “However, future research should look at people’s victimhood and self-efficacy to examine their influence on entrepreneurial tendencies.”

The Perceptions of Victimhood and Entrepreneurial Tendencies study was authored by Yossi Maaravi, Boaz Hameiri, and Tamar Gur.

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