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Dev Psychol. 2015 Jun;51(6):841-7. doi: 10.1037/dev0000016. Epub 2015 Apr 20.

The effects of school-level victimization on self-blame: Evidence for contextualized social cognitions.

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Department of Psychology.


The current study examined school-level victimization as a moderator of associations between peer victimization and changes in 2 types of self-blaming attributions, characterological and behavioral, across the first year of middle school. These associations were tested in a large sample (N = 5,991) of ethnically diverse adolescents from fall to spring of the 6th-grade year across 26 schools. Consistent with hypotheses, the results of multilevel modeling indicated that victimized youth showed greater increases in characterological self-blaming attributions (e.g., "my fault and cannot change it") in schools where victimization was less common. In contrast, victimization was associated with increases in behavioral self-blame (e.g., "I should have been more careful") for bullied students in schools with relatively higher levels of victimization. Underscoring the psychological consequences of person-context mismatch, the results suggest that when schools manage to decrease bullying, the few who remain victimized need additional support to prevent more maladaptive forms of self-blame.

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