The tendency to feel like a victim is associated with lower entrepreneurship, study finds

There is widespread popularity for the ‘rags to riches’ trope in society. Often, entrepreneurship is associated with success, so research has focused heavily on trying to understand characteristics 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. The personality traits associated with it 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 opposite concept. Authors of this study sought to make first steps into exploring a relationship between entrepreneurship and victimhood, with the hypothesis that these two concepts would be negatively related.

“Entrepreneurship is a powerful social-economic booster for individuals, organizations, and even whole states. Researchers and practitioners have been examining ways to identify and boost people’s entrepreneurial potential for a while now,” said study author Yossi Maaravi, dean of the Adelson School of Entrepreneurship at Reichman University.

Trait victimhood is a newly researched notion associated with heightened sensitivity to others’ hurtfulness or untrustworthiness. Such sensitivity may help people refrain from being hurt by others, but we suspected it might also lead to reduced entrepreneurial tendency.”

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

Study 1 showed that trait victimhood was negatively related to enterprising tendency but was not associated with behavioral entrepreneurship at all. Researchers realized this may be due to surveying onlyship students, who have entrepreneurs lower levels of trait victimhood overall. Study 2 sought to address this major limitation by using a more general population.

Interestingly, Study 2 showed that trait victimhood and behavior entrepreneurship were not significantly related as well, but global self-efficacy was positively related with behavior entrepreneurship. For participants with low global self-efficacy, victimhood was negatively associated with entrepreneurship, but for participants high in self-efficacy it was not. This research implies that self-efficacy being bolstered is helpful for entrepreneurial spirit, even if one sees themselves as a victim.

“It seems that entrepreneurial tendency does not go hand in hand with a continuous focus on how others have wronged you. However, self-efficacy (the perception that you are competent and able) may negate the adverse effects of trait victimhood and boost entrepreneurial tendency,” Maaravi told PsyPost.

This study sought to understand the relationship between entrepreneurial behavior and trait victimhood. While it took positive first steps into this, it also comes with limitations. Firstly, this study is correlational, so causal relationships are out of the scope of this research and would require an experimental follow up.

“We measured peoples’ traits and examined their associations,” Maaravi explained. “However, future research should affect peoples’ trait victimhood and self-efficacy to examine its influence on the entrepreneurial tendency.”

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