Oppositional Projection in Perceived Support for Cap and Trade
48 Pages Posted: 9 May 2014
Date Written: May 7, 2014
Contrary to previous research on social projection, we found that people exhibit oppositional projection in the divisive intergroup context of politics and environmental policy: Individuals positively projected their own stance onto members of their political in-group, while negatively projecting their own stance onto members of their political out-group. Two studies demonstrated that oppositional projection occurred when people estimated the stances of fellow Democrat and Republican voters (Studies 1 and 2) and political elites (elected representatives; Study 2) toward a cap-and-trade policy to limit carbon emissions. Structural equation models indicated that people’s estimates of political in-group stances were strongly and positively predicted by their own attitudes, whereas people’s estimates of their political out-group were strongly and negatively predicted by estimates of their political in-group (reflecting people’s assumption that their out-group opposed their in-group). We discuss oppositional projection’s consequences for perceptions of political gridlock amongst elites.
Keywords: attitude, projection, politics, polarization, oppositeness, climate change
JEL Classification: D72, Q28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation