Who gets blamed after a collective tragedy? the role of distress, identification with victims, and time

Heidi A. Wayment, Steven D. Barger, Woodward Tolle Lauren, Erin M. O'Mara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Belief in a just world theory (BJWT) restoration strategies were longitudinally examined after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Analyses examined the influence of terrorism-related distress, identification with victims, and the passage of time on levels of group- and individual-level blame. Initial levels of distress were associated with less blaming of the U.S. (group-level blame) but positively related to derogating victim compensation 5 months later. Psychological distancing from the victims increased individual-level blame, while prolonged identification with victims appeared to dampen this response. These results extend our understanding of BJWT by showing the importance of temporal variation in justice-restoring strategies in a dramatic real-world loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-497
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Loss and Trauma
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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