Twelve-Step Groups, Attributions of Blame for Personal Sadness, Psychological Well-Being, and the Moderating Role of Gender1


  • 1

    Study I was supported in part by a grant from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (GA06T90-1293). Study 2 was supported in part by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (R03AA10655). The authors wish to thank Eden Avery, Monique Glasford, Mabel Jones, and Jack Tyler for their assistance in collecting and managing the data for these studies.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to J. B. Kingree, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322.


Two studies investigated links among 12-step group participation, gender, attributions of blame for personal sadness, and psychological well-being. Study I used a correlational design to examine these links cross-sectionally among substance abusers who identified alcohol as their primary drug problem. Study 2 used an experimental design to examine prospective links among these variables for substance abusers who were also adult children of alcoholics. Females engaged in more blame than did males, and personal blame was negatively related to psychological well-being in Studies 1 and 2. Most significantly, 12-step group participation was associated with lower personal blame among females but not among males across both studies. These results indicate that 12-step groups can reduce personal blame among females who have substance abuse problems.