Blame is Contagious

Has your dog really ever eaten your homework? Most likely not. But a new study to be published this month in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology claims that you aren’t a hundred percent to be faulted.

Nathanael J. Fast at the USC Marshall School of Business and Larissa Tiedens at Stanford claim that publicly blaming others is “socially contagious.” In other words, blame induces more blame because we feel a need to protect our self-image when criticized.

In addition, though blaming others may feel good temporarily, Fast alleges, in the long run a great number of organizations and society in general could lose their incentive to learn through trial and error or back ideas far from the norm. Interestingly enough, leaders who’ve been shown to harbor a tendency to blame others exhibit narcissism and insecurity as well. Clearly, that’s not the best reputation to be had.

So, the next time you’re tempted to blame your innocent dog for your missing paper, be honest and ‘fess up. It’s for the good of society.

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