Self-Reported Voluntary Blame-Taking: Kinship Before Friendship and No Effect of Incentives

Teresa Schneider*, Melanie Sauerland, Harald Merckelbach, Jens Puschke, J Christopher Cohrs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Web of Science)


Inspired by theories of prosocial behavior, we tested the effect of relationship status and incentives on intended voluntary blame-taking in two experiments (Experiment 2 was pre-registered). Participants (NE1 = 211 and NE2 = 232) imagined a close family member, a close friend, or an acquaintance and read a scenario that described this person committing a minor traffic offense. The person offered either a monetary, social, or no incentive for taking the blame. Participants indicated their willingness to take the blame and reasons for and against blame-taking. Overall, a sizable proportion of participants indicated to be willing to take the blame (E1: 57.8%; E2: 34.9%). Blame-taking rates were higher for family members than close friends or acquaintances in both experiments, as expected. Unexpectedly, there was no difference between a close friend and an acquaintance in Experiment 2. Social incentives did not have an effect on voluntary blame-taking in either experiment. Neither did we find an interaction between relationship status and incentives. The results highlight the importance of kin relationships in the context of voluntary blame-taking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number621960
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2021


  • close relationship
  • Kinship Premium
  • prosocial behavior
  • Social Exchange Theory
  • voluntary false confessions

Cite this