Why Did It Happen to Me? Social Cognition Processes in Adjustment and Recovery from Criminal Victimization and Illness
This chapter reviews the theoretical framework and empirical evidence for the hypothesised relationship between self-blame attributions and psychological adjustment. In doing so, an argument is presented that poses an alternative interpretation to that which is widely accepted regarding the complex relationship between blame attributions, perceived control, self-esteem, and recovery. In the intervening century of empirical research, psychology has largely neglected William James’ basic observation in favor of trying to establish how mood can affect behavior and well-being. As a result, our social cognitions have been widely implicated in the process of adjustment and recovery from a wide range of traumatic events including bereavement, rape, burglary, accidents, coronary heart disease, and cancer. Much of contemporary psychological research indicates a possible mediating role for attributions in adjustment through the actions of perceived control, self-esteem, and/or the availability of coping strategies.