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

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-113
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 29 Jan 2015


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

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology


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