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Blame Game

 

Explanations > Behaviors > Games >  Blame Game

Purpose | Game play | Discussion | So what?

  

Purpose

Primary: Excuse, Displacement

Secondary: Social capital

Game play

  • A feels guilty or uncomfortable about something.
  • A finds a rationale why someone else is to blame.
  • A blames B.

Discussion

A gains several benefits from this. A is excused from what they have done (which means they can do it again). They can play 'Poor me'. A can also claim social capital as B now owes A something in return for B's apparent failure.

B joins in because they can play 'Poor me' and also claim social capital. They can also play 'Your fault' in return.

This game is driven by our need to explain and effects such as the Self-Serving Bias. Attribution Theory generally explains much of how and why we like to blame.

A also gets to play persecutor, and get associated pleasant feelings of power.

Blame games include:

  • Look what you made me do: A blames own (possibly engineered) failure on B's actions (or possibly mere presence).
  • If it wasn't for you: A wants something but also does not want it (eg. Want to go to Hawaii, do not want cost and hassle). A does not do/get that thing and blames this on B's action/inaction.

So what?

Watch out for being blamed and also being drawn into the game. If you blame someone, be aware of the impact of potential revenge.

See also

'Poor me' gGame, Attribution Theory, Self-Serving Bias, Blame vs. Explain preferences

Eric Berne, (1964), Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships, Balantine Books

Thomas Harris (1996), I'm OK-You're OK, Avon books

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