“There are many theories as to why we have this urge to blame, and all we can be certain about it is that it is an intrinsic part of our being. We used to scapegoat out of fear of divine retribution; now for the most part we do it to live with ourselves. As individuals, we create a narrative of our lives that makes sense to us, and that fits in with our concept of ourselves. Often we shape our memories accordingly. Certainly we keep some and subconsciously discard those that do not fit, demonstrating what psychologists call confirmation bias. We can find ourselves using our brains more to construct explanations and excuses once we’ve done what our emotions dictated, so we can present to ourselves that we are rational beings. But we aren’t wholly rational beings, as a succession of thinkers and experiments have shown.

” We possess a strong self-serving bias that makes us feel special. Through this we can account for our failures and protect our sense of worth. We overrate our abilities in all sorts of ways, from intelligence to honesty.

” . . . With this capacity for self-delusion it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that we seek to blame others. The idea of Attribution Theory states that we have an urgent need to find reasons for an event, and this leads us to leap to conclusions and hold others responsible. A bad situation couldn’t possibly be our fault, after all. When we fail at things it is because of others, those who are below average bring us down. Whereas when we succeed it is due to our innate abilities (and when others succeed, we often put it down to luck).”

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