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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.

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