Distinguishes 2 types of self-blame—behavioral and characterological. Behavioral self-blame is control related, involves attributions to a modifiable source (one’s behavior), and is associated with a belief in the future avoidance 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 1st study, with 120 female college students, it was found that depressed Ss engaged in more characterological self-blame than nondepressed Ss, whereas behavioral self-blame did not differ between groups; depressed Ss were 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 2nd study, 38 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.
Janoff-Bulman, R. (1979). Characterological versus behavioral self-blame: Inquiries into depression and rape. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(10), 1798-1809.