Alcohol and acquaintance rape in Australia: Testing the presupposition model of attributions about responsibility and blame

According to the presupposition model of attributions about responsibility and blame (Bradbury Fincham, 1990), an attribution of blame presupposes an attribution of responsibility. Both constructs share the dimensions of choice, intention, and accountability, but an additional dimension of liability relates only to blame. Reactions of 260 university students to acquaintance-rape scenarios portraying different levels of alcohol intoxication were examined. Results showed that the model's dimensions explained much of the variance in attributions of responsibility and blame, although the hierarchical structure was not supported. Mediational analyses suggest that different attributional principles apply when victims are assigned more responsibility than sober victims, but intoxicated perpetrators are assigned less responsibility than sober perpetrators.
Cameron,Charmaine A.
Stritzke,Werner G.
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Journal of Applied Social Psychology
The presupposition model of attributions argues that elements central to the process of responsibility and blame include intention, choice, and accountability. The involvement of liability within the process, however, is relegated only to blame. As such, the authors of this study were interested in assessing the influence alcohol has on mediating levels of perceived liability of victims and perpetrators. Participants included college students (N = 260) from five campuses in western Australia and were randomly assigned across four conditions. Each participant was given several measures, of which one included one of four versions of an acquaintance-rape scenario along with a matching questionnaire. In contrast to the presupposition model of attributions, results suggest that liability may be involved in attributions of responsibility as well as in attributions of blame. As such, the hierarchical premise of the model was not supported. Furthermore, significant differences across gender demonstrate varying attributional principles are involved in the assignment of responsibility. Additional models and explanations concerning attributions toward victims and perpetrators are discussed.
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Alcohol, Myths/Stereotypes, Theory
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