The Psychology of Scapegoating

Eric Horowitz on a recent study on scapegoating:

Rothschild and his team were interested in examining how the potential culpability of one’s own group influenced moral outrage and blame for a third-party. They began their experiment by giving participants a survey that led participants to categorize themselves as middle class rather than working class or upper class. Participants then read an article about the struggles of working-class Americans, but in the in-group condition the article blamed the middle class for the struggles, in the out-group condition the article blamed the upper class, and in the unknown condition the article stated that economists don’t know the cause of working-class struggles. Participants then read another article about the status of illegal immigrants. In the viable scapegoat condition the article described the rising fortunes of illegal immigrants, while in the non-viable scapegoat condition the articles describe how illegal immigrants were also struggling to find work.

As expected, when illegal immigrants were viable scapegoats, participants were more likely to blame them for the struggles of the working-class when the cause of those struggles was unknown or attributed to their own group, the middle-class.

Full Story: Peer Reviewed By My Neurons: We’re All Just Looking For a Patsy

1 Comment

  1. See Rene Girard’s work for the definitive take on ‘the skapegoat mechanism.” http://auticulture.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/rene-girard-for-dummies/

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