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Measuring Victimhood: Developing a Victim Self-Ascription Scale
Unformatted Document Text:  DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ## right then and there that there was a problem. But I didn’t push it. And I should have pushed it, and I didn’t. A7 You’d blame yourself. A8 I’d blame myself. I would blame myself for not pushing that. Because I knew. I knew. In this case, the subject is specific: she was angry, but she was angry ‘with myself,’ as described in the guilt literature cited earlier. The reason for this internally directed rage is obvious: she holds herself responsible for her fate. As with the first example, her account of her actions suggests that she was in control of them, albeit that in retrospect she wishes that she could have acted more positively to escape the situation. Her attribution is clearly behavioral in that she implicates her failure to ‘push’ the problem with hospital staff – to demand transfer to another bed, for example – for her eventual fate. As with all helpful behavioral attributions, the message is clear and useful. She must be more pro-active next time. In the Janoff-Bulman formulation, this subject has little to worry about in terms of long- term coping. So the puzzle for this subject is to explain why she is so angry to begin with. As in the case of the first participant, the answer seems to reside in her use of the word ‘should.’ The woman feels strongly that she ‘should’ have behaved differently, especially given the fact that, as she puts it, she ‘knew’ there was a problem. In her choice of words, this participant painted her actions as irrational (since if one truly ‘knew’ something bad was going to happen, one should avoid it) and therefore as foolish and unjustifiable. It is this sense of the unjustifiability of her actions, and not simply the sense that her victimization resulted from her own behavior, that leads her to feel angry with herself. It may be, then, that where an individual attributes responsibility for their victimization to themselves, the key consideration for whether they feel anger will not be whether they feel they will be able to exercise Page 24

Authors: Davies, Andrew.
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DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ##
right then and there that there was a problem.  But I didn’t push it.  And I should have 
pushed it, and I didn’t.
A7
You’d blame yourself.
A8
I’d blame myself.  I would blame myself for not pushing that.  Because I knew.  I knew.
In this case, the subject is specific: she was angry, but she was angry ‘with myself,’ as described in the 
guilt literature cited earlier.  The reason for this internally directed rage is obvious: she holds herself 
responsible for her fate.  As with the first example, her account of her actions suggests that she was in 
control of them, albeit that in retrospect she wishes that she could have acted more positively to escape 
the situation.  Her attribution is clearly behavioral in that she implicates her failure to ‘push’ the 
problem with hospital staff – to demand transfer to another bed, for example – for her eventual fate.  As 
with all helpful behavioral attributions, the message is clear and useful.  She must be more pro-active 
next time.  In the Janoff-Bulman formulation, this subject has little to worry about in terms of long-
term coping.
So the puzzle for this subject is to explain why she is so angry to begin with.  As in the case of the first 
participant, the answer seems to reside in her use of the word ‘should.’  The woman feels strongly that 
she ‘should’ have behaved differently, especially given the fact that, as she puts it, she ‘knew’ there was 
a problem.  In her choice of words, this participant painted her actions as irrational (since if one truly 
‘knew’ something bad was going to happen, one should avoid it) and therefore as foolish and 
unjustifiable.  It is this sense of the unjustifiability of her actions, and not simply the sense that her 
victimization resulted from her own behavior, that leads her to feel angry with herself.  It may be, then, 
that where an individual attributes responsibility for their victimization to themselves, the key 
consideration for whether they feel anger will not be whether they feel they will be able to exercise 
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