Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 609–616 | Cite as

It’s not our fault! Explaining why families might blame the school for failure to complete a high-school education

  • Nicolay GauselEmail author


As people normally care about what others think of them, any failures associated with them can be experienced as socially embarrassing. Consequently, they might become motivated to blame someone else for the failure in order to defend against possible criticism from others. In line with this reasoning, a study (N = 129) investigating how people think a family would feel and cope if their son or daughter failed to complete a high-school education was conducted. Specifically, it was expected that people would consider this as an embarrassing experience for the family, and due to this, blame the school for the failure. It was also expected that the link between embarrassment and blame directed at the school to be fully mediated by the feeling of rejection. Implications for research on norm violations and emotions, and implications for professional workers dealing with failure to complete a high-school education are discussed.


Moral Failure Embarrassing Rejection Blame 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Centre for Emotion ResearchØstfold University CollegeFredrikstadNorway
  2. 2.Østfold University CollegeHaldenNorway

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