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Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2015 Jan;59(1):96-113. doi: 10.1177/0306624X13503297. Epub 2013 Sep 18.

Mechanism of bystander-blaming: defensive attribution, counterfactual thinking, and gender.

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Ariel University, Israel Zefat Academic College, Israel University of Haifa, Israel
Ariel University, Israel Bar-Ilan University, Israel.


Contemporary victimology recognizes that an understanding of the mechanism of blaming requires a comprehensive approach that includes the victim, the offender, and the bystander. However, most of the existing research on blaming focuses on the victim and the offender, ignoring the issue of bystander-blaming. This study highlights the bystander and investigates bystander-blaming by exploring some theoretical explanations, including counterfactual thinking, defensive attribution, and gender differences. The study included 363 young male and female participants, who read vignettes describing the behavior of the victim and the bystander in a rape scenario and answered questions regarding bystander-blaming. The results show that both counterfactual thinking and defensive attribution play a role in bystander-blaming. This article addresses the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.


blaming; bystander; counterfactual thinking; defensive attribution theory; gender differences

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