Blame is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise. When someone is morally responsible for doing something wrong their action is blameworthy. By contrast, when someone is morally responsible for doing something right, we may say that his or her action is praiseworthy. There are other senses of praise and blame that are not ethically relevant. One may praise someone's good dress sense, and blame the weather for a crop failure.
The sociology and psychology of blame
Template:Ambox/small We constantly consciously and unconsciously make judgments about other people. Our basis for judging others may be partly ingrained, negative and rigid indicating some degree of grandiosity.
Blaming is also a way of devaluing others. The end result is that the blamer feels superior. Others are seen as less worthwhile making the blamer "perfect". Off-loading blame means putting the other person down by emphasizing his or her flaws.
Victims of manipulation and abuse frequently feel responsible for causing negative feelings in the manipulator/abuser towards them and the resultant anxiety in themselves. This self-blame often becomes a major feature of victim status.
The victim gets trapped into a self-image of victimization. The psychological profile of victimization includes a pervasive sense of helplessness, passivity, loss of control, pessimism, negative thinking, strong feelings of guilt, shame, self-blame and depression. This way of thinking can lead to hopelessness and despair.
There are two main types of self-blame:
- behavioral self-blame – undeserved blame based on actions. Victims who experience behavioral self-blame feel that they should have done something differently, and therefore feel at fault.
- characterological self-blame – undeserved blame based on character. Victims who experience characterological self-blame feel there is something inherently wrong with them which has caused them to deserve to be assaulted.
Behavioral self-blame is associated with feelings of guilt within the victim. While the belief that one had control during the abuse (past control) is associated with greater psychological distress, the belief that one has more control during the recovery process (present control) is associated with less distress, less withdrawal, and more cognitive reprocessing.
Counseling responses found helpful in reducing self-blame are supportive responses, psychoeducational responses (learning about rape trauma syndrome) and those responses addressing the issue of blame. A helpful type of therapy for self-blame is cognitive restructuring or cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive reprocessing is the process of taking the facts and forming a logical conclusion from them that is less influenced by shame or guilt.
Victim blaming is holding the victims of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment to be entirely or partially responsible for the unfortunate incident that has occurred in their life.
Template:Ambox/small Blaming others can lead to a "kick-the-dog effect" where individuals in a hierarchy blame their immediate subordinate, and this propagates down the hierarchy until the lowest rung (the "dog"). A 2009 experimental study has shown that blaming can be contagious even for uninvolved onlookers.
Blame as a propaganda technique
Blame is closely associated with labeling theory, in that when intentional actors act out to continuously blame an individual for nonexistent psychological traits, and for nonexistent variables, the people blaming are trying to induce irrational guilt at an unconscious level. It is a propaganda tactic used to control minds, to try to utilize repetitive blaming behaviors, innuendos, and hyperbole to assign negative status to normative humans. Blame is utilized as a social control technique. When innocent people are blamed fraudulently for nonexistent psychological states and nonexistent behaviors, and there is literally and absolutely no qualifying deviance for the blaming behaviors, this propaganda technique is intended to create a negative valuation of innocent humans to induce fear, and utilizes the tactic of fear mongering. Blaming in the form of demonization has been used by governments for centuries to influence public perceptions of various governments, through which this propaganda technique is utilized to induce feelings of nationalism in the public. Blame can be utilized to objectify people, groups, and nations, which can typically negatively influence the minds of whom propaganda is intended for in a subjective manner, which leads to lessened objectivity in rationality.
- Brown, Nina W., Coping With Infuriating, Mean, Critical People – The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern (2006)
- Braiker, Harriet B., Who's Pulling Your Strings? How to Break The Cycle of Manipulation (2006)
- Frazier, Patricia A.; Mortensen, Heather; Steward, Jason. (2005). Coping Strategies as Mediators of the Relations Among Perceived Control and Distress in Sexual Assault Survivors. Journal of Counseling Psychology, Jul 2005, Vol. 52 Issue 3, p. 267–278
- Matsushita-Arao, Yoshiko. (1997). Self-blame and depression among forcible rape survivors. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering. 57(9-B). p. 5925.
- Branscombe, Nyla R.; Wohl, Michael J. A.; Owen, Susan; Allison, Julie A.; N'gbala, Ahogni. (2003). Counterfactual Thinking, Blame Assignment, and Well-Being in Rape Victims. Basic & Applied Social Psychology, 25 (4). p265, 9p.
- Jeanna Bryner: Workplace Blame Is Contagious and Detrimental, LiveScience, 2010-01-19, citing the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
- Douglas, T Scapegoats: Transferring Blame (1995)
- Wilcox, CW Scapegoat: Targeted for Blame (2009)
|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Blame|