Preparation of this manuscript was assisted by a General Research Fund grant to the first author from the University of Kansas. We thank Charles Neuringer for serving as the attorney in the videotapes used in Studies 2 and 3, as well as Igor Gavanski, Yechiel Klar, and Ahogni N'gbala for their comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. Portions of this research were presented at the meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, Illinois, May 1991.
Rape and Accident Counterfactuals: Who Might Have Done Otherwise and Would It Have Changed the Outcome?1
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 26, Issue 12, pages 1042–1067, June 1996
How to Cite
Branscombe, N. R., Owen, S., Garstka, T. A. and Coleman, J. (1996), Rape and Accident Counterfactuals: Who Might Have Done Otherwise and Would It Have Changed the Outcome?. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26: 1042–1067. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1996.tb01124.x
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Four experiments assessed the blame assigned to the two persons involved in a rape or an auto accident. After reading a description of one of the events, participants were asked to generate different types of counterfactuals in 2 of the studies, and in the other 2 they viewed a videotape of an attorney who suggested to them a specific counterfactual. In the rape context, when changes to the victim's behavior produced a new outcome, blame to the victim was highest and rapist blame was lowest. Counterfactuals where changes in the victim's behaviors did not undo the event resulted in the highest assailant blame and the least victim blame. When the event was an auto accident, blame increased for whichever driver's actions were mentally undone. How attorneys can increase or decrease the blame assigned to their clients depending on the type of counterfactual that they present is discussed.