Responsibility and accountability are the issues at the heart of this book. An account episode, according to Professor Schönbach's conception, is a four-phase interaction between an actor and an opponent. Account episodes occur in many different social settings; they are societal means for the resolution or diminution of conflicts engendered by failure events. Frequently, however, such episodes do not accomplish this goal but promote an escalation of the original conflict. The basic questions addressed in this book are under what circumstances an account episode is likely to be successful, and under which other conditions it is likely to founder. Ten studies of interchanges between actor and opponent, based on Schönbach's escalation theory, reveal fascinating interactions between actor and opponent, between severity of reproach, defensiveness of accounts, needs for control of the participants and their gender in determining the course of account episodes.