Thought suppression, projection, and the development of stereotypes

Leonard S. Newman, Tracy L. Caldwell, Brian Chamberlin, Thomas Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The psychodynamic approach to stereotyping and prejudice focuses on how out-group denigration can result from people's efforts to defend themselves against unpleasant thoughts and feelings. In line with that approach, the role of defensive projection in the development of unfavorable impressions of other groups of people was investigated. Hypotheses were derived from Newman, Duff, and Baumeister's (1997) model of projection. Participants were told that they belonged to groups that might have some unfavorable attributes. When they were asked to suppress thoughts about one of those attributes, they subsequently projected it onto another group. This effect was strongest for groups that most successfully suppressed the thought (i.e., those that never mentioned the trait even once during a group discussion). In sum, when people avoid thinking about their own groups' shortcomings, thoughts about those characteristics could become highly accessible and be used to form impressions of other groups of people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-266
Number of pages8
JournalBasic and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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