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Blaming the Victim

Blaming the victim is an attributional error in which a person is seen as being primarily responsible for his or her own suffering. For example, regarding ethnic minority groups' lower scores on intelligence tests than those of European Americans, Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray argue in The Bell Curve that European Americans are innately intellectually superior to minorities and that efforts to eradicate racial discrepancies, such as affirmative action, remedial programs, and welfare are of little use. Gays and lesbians who contract AIDS are accused of deserving their fate because of their “immoral” lifestyle. People with low socioeconomic status are perceived as lazy individuals who are on welfare because they are unwilling to work like the rest of us. Rape victims are blamed for ...

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