Disregard or Distort the Consequences of Behavior

A second method of avoiding responsibility involves distorting or obscuring the relationship between the behavior and its detrimental consequences (see upper-center box of Figure 16.2). Bandura (1986, 1999a) recognized at least three techniques of distorting or obscuring the detrimental consequences of ones actions. First, people can minimize the consequences of their behavior. For example, a driver runs a red light and strikes a pedestrian. As the injured party lies bleeding and unconscious on the pavement, the driver says, "She's not really hurt badly. She's going to be okay."

Second people can disregard or ignore the consequences of their actions, as when they do not see firsthand the harmful effects of their behavior. In wartime, heads of state and army generals seldom view the total destruction and death resulting from their decisions.

Finally, people can distort or misconstrue the consequences of their actions, as when a parent beats a child badly enough to cause serious bruises but explains that the child needs discipline in order to mature properly.

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