Blame the skilled

Tobias Gerstenberg, Anastasia Ejova, David A. Lagnado

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the influence of players’ performance and level of skill on responsibility attributions in groups. Participants act as external judges and evaluate the performance of teams of differently skilled players who compete in a darts game. The results show that both performance and skill influence responsibility attributions. Poor performance elicits high blame and low credit ratings and vice versa for good performance. Responsibility attributions to one player did not vary as a function of the other player’s performance. The influence of skill on responsibility attributions was asymmetric. While skilled players were blamed more for losses than unskilled players, credit ratings did not vary significantly as a function of skill. This result is in line with people’s strong tendency to spontaneously consider upwards counterfactual alternatives for losses over downwards counterfactuals for wins.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci2011)
EditorsLaura Carlson, Christoph Hölscher, Thomas F. Shipley
Place of PublicationAustin, Texas
PublisherCognitive Science Society
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780976831877
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
EventAnnual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (33rd : 2011) - Boston, Massachusetts
Duration: 20 Jul 201123 Jul 2011


ConferenceAnnual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (33rd : 2011)
CityBoston, Massachusetts


  • responsibility attribution
  • counterfactual thinking
  • control
  • skill


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