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Abstract

Observers viewed one of nine dramatized videotaped interviews of a rape victim describing her rape. Information in the interview varied the prudence of the victim's behavior (careful, careless, no information provided) and the respectability of her character (good, bad, no information provided). Behavioral blame was significantly greater than characterological blame when the victim was careless or when no information was provided about behavior, regardless of the victim's character. When the behavior was careful, behavioral blame was equal in magnitude to characterological blame. In no case was characterological blame preferred. The adaptive value of behavioral blame for preserving a belief in a controllable and meaningful world was examined using a hierarchical multiple regression. After removing the effects of the prebeliefs of the subjects and the independent variable manipulations, only behavioral blame was significantly related to the maintenance of adaptive beliefs. Implications of the adaptive value of behavioral blame are discussed along with the importance of distinguishing observers' behavioral and characterological blaming strategies in the victimization literature.