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Characterological versus behavioral self-blame: inquiries into depression and rape.

Abstract

Two types of self-blame--behavioral and characterological--are distinguished. Behavioral self-blame is control related, involves attributions to a modifiable source (one's behavior), and is associated with a belief in the future avoidability of a negative outcome. Characterological self-blame is esteem related, involves attributions to a relatively nonmodifiable source (one's character), and is associated with a belief in personal deservingness for past negative outcomes. Two studies are reported that bear on this self-blame distinction. In the first study, it was found that depressed female college students engaged in more characterologial self-blame than nondepressed female college students, whereas behavioral self-blame did not differ between the two groups; the depressed population was also characterized by greater attributions to chance and decreased beliefs in personal control. Characterological self-blame is proposed as a possible solution to the "paradox in depression." In a second study, rape crisis centers were surveyed. Behavioral self-blame, and not characterological self-blame, emerged as the most common response of rape victims to their victimization, suggesting the victim's desire to maintain a belief in control, particularly the belief in the future avoidability of rape. Implications of this self-blame distinction and potential directions for future research are discussed.

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    Source

    MeSH

    Depression
    Female
    Guilt
    Humans
    Personality
    Rape
    Self Concept

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    512837

    Citation

    TY - JOUR T1 - Characterological versus behavioral self-blame: inquiries into depression and rape. A1 - Janoff-Bulman,R, PY - 1979/10/1/pubmed PY - 1979/10/1/medline PY - 1979/10/1/entrez SP - 1798 EP - 809 JF - Journal of personality and social psychology JO - J Pers Soc Psychol VL - 37 IS - 10 N2 - Two types of self-blame--behavioral and characterological--are distinguished. Behavioral self-blame is control related, involves attributions to a modifiable source (one's behavior), and is associated with a belief in the future avoidability of a negative outcome. Characterological self-blame is esteem related, involves attributions to a relatively nonmodifiable source (one's character), and is associated with a belief in personal deservingness for past negative outcomes. Two studies are reported that bear on this self-blame distinction. In the first study, it was found that depressed female college students engaged in more characterologial self-blame than nondepressed female college students, whereas behavioral self-blame did not differ between the two groups; the depressed population was also characterized by greater attributions to chance and decreased beliefs in personal control. Characterological self-blame is proposed as a possible solution to the "paradox in depression." In a second study, rape crisis centers were surveyed. Behavioral self-blame, and not characterological self-blame, emerged as the most common response of rape victims to their victimization, suggesting the victim's desire to maintain a belief in control, particularly the belief in the future avoidability of rape. Implications of this self-blame distinction and potential directions for future research are discussed. SN - 0022-3514 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/512837/Characterological_versus_behavioral_self_blame:_inquiries_into_depression_and_rape_ L2 - http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=linkout&SEARCH=512837.ui ER -