Attributions of blame and coping in the "real world": severe accident victims react to their lot

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1977 May;35(5):351-63. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.35.5.351.


The purpose of this study was to examine the relation between victims' attributions of causality for their accidents and their ability to cope with severe misfortune. A total of 29 individuals who had been paralyzed in serious accidents were intensively interviewed. Both quantitative and open-ended questions were used to elicit attributions of blame and causality by respondents; coping scores were obtained from a social worker and a nurse familiar with each respondent's case. Findings suggested that blaming another and feeling that one could have avoided the accident were successful predictors of poor coping; self-blame was a successful predictor of good coping. The question, "Why me?" was posed by all respondents, and 28 of the 29 related specific hypotheses that they entertained to explain why the accident had happened to them. Their responses seemed to illustrate the respondents' need for meaning in explaining the selective incidence of the accident.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents*
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Guilt
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Paralysis / etiology
  • Self Concept
  • Social Perception
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications