Blaming me, blaming you! The pendulum of blame in payday lending

Jane Brown, Chrysostomos Apostolides, Jillian Dawes Farquhar

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    Following a negative service experience, existing studies assert that consumers attribute blame either internally (self-blame) or externally (other-blame) with little indication that the attribution ever changes. This study explores blame to discover whether there are changes in attribution, specifically whether it may shift from self to other. Analysing qualitative data from borrowers in the payday lending market using I-/They-poems, this study finds firstly that blame oscillates between self and other and, secondly, that payday borrowers practice counterfactual thinking to alleviate negative emotions, which in turn prompts this blame oscillation. In revealing that blame attribution can act as a pendulum oscillating between self and other, this study makes a critical advance to existing blame research. The study also supports previous studies in I-/They-poems in uncovering novel insights into consumer theory. Evidence also emerges that the neoliberal view of the ‘empowered consumer’ interacts with the more traditional, organisation-oriented perspective, as from a consumer behaviour perspective the attempts to improve psychological well-being and the oscillation of blame contribute to shifts in the perceived power in the loan market.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)517-538
    Number of pages22
    JournalMarketing Theory
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2021


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