Cover: Blaming Others to a Fault?

Blaming Others to a Fault?

Published 1994

by Robert J. MacCoun

Purchase Print Copy

Add to Cart Paperback3 pages Free

This article explores patterns of blaming identified in a nationally representative survey of traumatic-injury victims in the United States, conducted by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice in 1991. More than half of all respondents who attributed at least partial causation for their injury to human behavior blamed themselves. But there were significant differences across accident types. Respondents injured in product-related or slip-and-fall accidents blamed themselves, and those injured in work-related incidents were equally likely to blame themselves or someone else. But in motor vehicle accidents, fully 75 percent of victims blamed someone else for their injuries. One possible explanation for the behavior of auto accident victims is the psychological notion of "scripts" — we blame others for auto accidents because newspaper ads and commercials, among other influences, make blaming the other driver the default behavior for this situation.

Originally published in: Chance, Vol. 6, No. 4, Fall 1993, pp. 31-33.

This report is part of the RAND reprint series. The Reprint was a product of RAND from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.