In his analysis of Nazi propaganda, Ellis Freeman identified an influence tactic based on projection: accusing another person of the negative traits and behaviors that one possesses and exhibits with the goal of deflecting blame away from one's own misdeeds and toward the accused. Although the use of projection as an influence tactic is not limited to fascist regimes and its consequences can be socially devastating, the projection tactic has not been subjected to experimental analysis. In four experiments, the authors found that projection was effective in (a) increasing the blame placed on the target of the projection and (b) decreasing the culpability of the accuser (or projectionist). These effects occurred despite (a) raising suspicions about the motives of the projectionist, (b) providing evidence that the projectionist is guilty of the deed, and (c) timing the projection so that it occurred after the misdeeds came to light.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology