Four experiments tested the hypothesis that people distance themselves from others who display characteristics they fear in themselves. In Study 1, participants were given false feedback that they were high or low in repressed anger and were given information about a person who became angry and responded in a violent or nonviolent manner. High anger feedback participants distanced themselves only from the violent person. In Study 2, high anger feedback led to distancing from a violent other but not a dishonest other, whereas dishonesty feedback led to distancing from a dishonest other but not a violent other. The results of Studies 3 and 4 replicated and extended the distancing effect with an anger induction: Participants who were insulted distanced themselves from an angry/violent person, and verbalizing their emotions about being insulted eliminated this effect. Implications for understanding defenses against undesirable self-attributions are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science