Psychological study that says people associate critical claims with the critic rather than the criticized?
December 17, 2003 9:53 AM   Subscribe

I read an article many years ago about a scientific study that said that people tend to psychologically associate criticism with the critic, and not the object or person being criticised. ***** For example - given Persons A, B and C, Person A says to Person B, "You're an uncritical thinker." If you asked Person C at a later date, "who was the uncritical thinker?" they would tend to answer "Person A". Even though Person A was criticising Person B, Person C would associate the criticism with Person A and not Person B. ***** Well, I've tried to find the research online but have reached a dead-end because I just don't know what combination of words to search for. Has anyone else come across this research?

Who knows, maybe the research isn't available online, but I hope someone else has read it too.

'Common wisdom' indicates that it isn't 'nice' or 'good' to go around calling people names and criticising them. This has generally been considered a matter of manners and civility. The argument can be extended to say that you 'make yourself look bad when you badmouth others.'

However, I think it very interesting that scientific research goes even farther and says you don't just make yourself look bad when you criticise others, but that you actually cause people to associate those negative qualities WITH YOURSELF when you criticise others. In fact, it bounces back in your face.

I'd really love to read those studies again and examine the evidence more clearly. Any help?
posted by PigAlien to Science & Nature (4 answers total)
The argument can be extended to say that you 'make yourself look bad when you badmouth others.'

Forget the science go with the quote, birds of a feather flock together: how does person A know person B is "You're an uncritical thinker." Association is a key too.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:46 AM on December 17, 2003

You might be talking about framing, which was a hot topic in the blogosphere a couple of months ago.
posted by adamrice at 2:34 PM on December 17, 2003

The Boomerang effect
posted by vacapinta at 2:37 PM on December 17, 2003

Thank you, Vacapinta! You hit the nail on the head. Perfect! I never would have thought to search for 'gossip' or 'boomerang', but that is exactly the study I read about.

Ask Metafilter to the rescue!

Oh, adamrice and thomcat, I appreciated your response too. Very true and very interesting. Thanks so much and all of you take care.
posted by PigAlien at 6:16 PM on December 17, 2003

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