The authoress presents the results of the experiment exploring the impact of self-relevance (the plausibility of the event and similarity of the victim to the observer) and negative stereotype of the perpetrator (skinhead) on blaming. The results show that self-relevance in the no-stereotype condition and the stereotype of the perpetrator in the low relevance condition resulted in more blaming of the perpetrator. However, when both factors operated together, she founds out 'annihilation effect': skinhead (at the high self-relevance) was blamed similarly as no-skinhead. It is interpreted that both factors increase threat motivating people to apply - on the early stage - a cognitive coping strategy: presumably, participants realize that the chance of meeting skinhead is very low. Overall, the study suggests that blaming the perpetrator - predicted in a classical defensive responsibility theory - is but one possible strategy of coping with threat. Other strategies can lead e.g. to engagement in information processing.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.