Individual blame

Attributing one's failure to use (or problematic use) of a certain technical object is often refered to in the literature as the "Individual Blame Bias". In his book "Diffusion of Innovation", Rogers gave the following example:

"Posters were captioned: «LEAD PAINT CAN KILL!» Such posters placed the blame on low- income parents for allowing their children to eat paint peeling off the walls of older housing. The posters blamed the parents, not the pain manufacturers or the landlords. In the mid-1990s, federal legislation was enacted to require homeowners to disclose that a residence is lead-free when a housing unit is rented or sold."

Why do I blog this? Always been intrigued by the tendency to hold individual responsible for his/her problems rather than system. It's definitely a recurring topic when you run field studies, it's as if people wanted to take responsibility for causes that are beyond their scope (bad manual, missing information, etc.).

Of course, this issue has some consequences in terms of the diffusion of innovations and Rogers proposed to overcome this bias when studying the diffusion of innovation by refraining from using individuals as the units of analysis for diffusion (it then remove the possibility of blame on particular individuals).