Attributions and peer harassment

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Attribution theory is used as a conceptual framework for examining how causal beliefs about peer harassment influence how victims think and feel about themselves. Evidence is presented that victims who make characterological self-blaming attributions (&#8220;it must be <i>me</i>&#8221;) are particularly at risk of negative self-views. Also examined is the influence of social context, particularly the ethnic composition of schools and classrooms. It was found that students who were both victims of harassment and members of the majority ethnic group were more vulnerable to self-blaming attributions. In contrast, greater ethnic diversity, that is, classrooms where no one group was in the majority, tended to ward off self-blaming tendencies. Studies of peer harassment are a good context for examining one of the main themes of the special issue, which is how the social context (e.g., peer groups, ethnic groups) influences the way individuals think and feel about themselves.


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