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Projection as a mechanism of defense Dyck, Murray James

Abstract

Eighty-four male undergraduate students were divided into groups of higher and lower defensive subjects. Subjects were then assigned to one of three experimental conditions: experimental projection, no-projection control (NPC), and no-threat control (NTC). After viewing male homosexually explicit slides, experimental subjects made attributions to similar and dissimilar others, and then completed anxiety and defensive compensation measures. Control groups followed the same procedure except that NPC subjects were not allowed to make attributions, and NTC subjects were not exposed to the slides. Results indicated that higher defensive subjects attributed higher levels of negative characteristics to the similar target person than did lower defensive subjects, and obtained lower anxiety scores following this projection. The hypothesis is made that defensive projection is a functional method of coping with high levels of anxiety.

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