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2011

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Who's To Blame When A Business Fails? How Journalistic Death Metaphors Influence Responsibility Attributions, Ann Williams Dec 2010

Who's To Blame When A Business Fails? How Journalistic Death Metaphors Influence Responsibility Attributions, Ann Williams

Ann E Williams

This study unites a textual analysis and an experimental audience study to document the use of death metaphor in business news and to assess the impact that death metaphor has on audiences' attributions of responsibility for corporate failure. The findings show that death metaphors are frequently used in financial press coverage and that the use of death metaphor influences audience members' responsibility attributions by intensifying overall levels of blame, while simultaneously deflecting blame away from the executives responsible for managing the firm and diffusing it to other factors, including the state of the economy, the government, and individual consumers.