Outcome severity and judgments of "responsibility": A meta-analytic review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research has provided mixed support for the hypothesis that when an incident results in a more severe outcome, more responsibility will be attributed to a potentially responsible actor. This paper uses the techniques of meta-analysis to examine this literature. The results support the contention that people attribute greater responsibility for the outcome of a negative incident when that outcome is more severe than when the outcome is minor. The direction of this relationship is consistent across methodologies. However, the strength of the correlation varies depending on which type of judgment participants are asked to make. Because many of these variables are tied to legal concepts, the results are discussed in the context of the expectations of the legal system regarding the impact of outcome severity on each variable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2575-2609
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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