Parental responsibility and respondent anger, sympathy, and willingness to help following child death

Laura Umphrey, John C. Sherblom, Victoria Pocknell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Relationships among attributions of responsibility, emotions of anger and sympathy, and willingness to help have been theorized, but questions about the relationship between anger and sympathy remain unclear. The present study examines 306 responses to news stories that manipulated attributions of parental responsibility following the accidental death of a child. Results confirm that attributions of responsibility increase expressions of anger and reduce sympathy and willingness to help. Respondents who express more anger show less sympathy, but anger only indirectly affects the willingness to help. Respondents who attribute less responsibility to parents express greater sympathy and more willingness to help.



  • Anger
  • Attributions
  • Child death
  • Parental bereavement
  • Sympathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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