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Students’ Accounts for Drinking and Driving: Applying Excuses and Justifications to Explain Behaviors
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Social Psychology.

How to Cite

Blue, Courtney. 2015. “Students’ Accounts for Drinking and Driving: Applying Excuses and Justifications to Explain Behaviors”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, March. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


This classroom activity is designed to define and apply Scott & Lyman’s (1968) typology of accounts. Accounts are linguistic tools social actors use to explain their actions when their behavior is deemed unexpected and inappropriate. In other words, accounts are how people rationalize their behavior when it is called in question. Individuals try to...


Subject Area(s):
Deviant Behavior/Social Disorganization
Resource Type(s):
Class Activity
Class Level(s):
Any Level
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

See PDF file for detailed steps to the activity and discussion questions.

Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Identify accounts that students use.
  2. Classify those accounts by either excuses or justifications.
  3. Imagine how accounts vary depending on the audience

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Listing the explanations that are used by students who drink and drive.
  2. Correctly identifying excuses and justifications through coding.
  3. Naming the various audiences that students may have to offer accounts for and discussing the situational context of accounts.

When using resources from TRAILS, please include a clear and legible citation.

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