Study: People who virtue signal tend to be manipulative narcissists, psychopaths
07/23/2020 // Ethan Huff // Views

New research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has found that people who spend much of their lives "virtue signaling" about various hot-button political issue in an attempt to make themselves look good are usually manipulative narcissists and psychopaths who fall deep into the "dark triad" spectrum of negative personality traits.

The University of British Columbia researchers Ekin Ok, Yi Qian, Brendan Strejcek, and Karl Aquino found that some of "the consequences and predictors of emitting signals of victimhood and virtue" include "self-promotion, emotional callousness, duplicity, and tendency to take advantage of others." In many cases, such people exhibit apparent animosity towards others, even as they pretend to care about people and issues that in reality do not actually matter to them.

"Being accused of 'virtue signaling' might sound nice to the uninitiated, but spend much time on social media and you know that it's actually an accusation of insincerity," writes Elizabeth Nolan Brown for Reason about this disturbing phenomenon.

"Virtue signalers are, essentially, phonies and showoffs – folks who adopt opinions and postures solely to garner praise and sympathy or whose good deeds are tainted by their need for everyone to see just how good they are. Combined with a culture that says only victimhood confers a right to comment on certain issues, it's a big factor in online pile-ons and one that certainly contributes to social media platforms being such a bummer sometimes."

Virtue signalers embody the opposite of virtue

For their paper, the researchers looked closely at the "dark triad," which includes Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy, to see if any or all of these are correlated to virtue signaling. After controlling for other factors that may contribute to some people's desire to play the victim and/or loudly announce how great they are, the researchers came to the conclusion that various negative personality traits often go hand-in-hand with virtue signaling.


In many cases, virtue signalers are engaging in competitive victimhood for the purpose of "resource extraction," the paper explains, including with the current push for "reparations" for blacks. These demands for compensation through "resource transfer from nonvictims to the alleged victim" are a form of narcissistic manipulation for personal gain.

"Claiming victim status can also facilitate resource transfer by conferring moral immunity upon the claimant," the paper adds. "Moral immunity shields the alleged victim from criticism about the means they might use to satisfy their demands. In other words, victim status can morally justify the use of deceit, intimidation, or even violence by alleged victims to achieve their goals."

By claiming to be victims and/or to support victims, virtue signalers also hope to portray themselves and other target groups as less blameworthy in the eyes of others, effectively letting themselves off the hook for their own transgressions. Virtue signaling in essence places oneself higher up on the food chain, so to speak, as a better and more desirable citizen.

At the end of the day, virtue signalers believe themselves to be better people than everyone else, including psychologically. Their subjective sense of legitimacy and entitlement really becomes apparent at this level of delusion, as virtue signalers perceive and thus convey themselves to have all of the answers, and to be more "enlightened" than the rest of the world.

"In contrast to victim signalers, people who do not publicly disclose their misfortune or disadvantage are less likely to reap the benefits of retributive compensation, moral immunity, deflection of blame, or psychological standing and would therefore find it difficult to initiate resource transfers," the paper notes.

You can read more about the paper's findings at this link.

You can also keep up with the latest news about virtue signalers by checking out

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