Scapegoat theory Definition

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Scapegoat theory describes the propensity to blame someone else because that one’s own problems, a procedure that regularly results in feelings of prejudice towards the person or group that one is blaming. Scapegoating serves as an opportunity to explain failure or misdeeds, while preserving one’s hopeful self-image. If a human being who is bad or doesn’t acquire a task that that or she uses for have the right to blame an unfair system or the human being who did acquire the job that that or she wanted, the human being may be making use of the others as a scapegoat and may finish up hating them together a result. However, if the device really is unfair and also keeps the person from doing well financially, or the other people got the job because of nepotism or illegitimate preferential treatment, then blaming those factors would not be scapegoating. Essentially, scapegoating generally employs a stand-in because that one’s very own failures so that one doesn’t have to confront one’s own weaknesses.

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Origins of Scapegoat Theory

The hatchet itself comes from the Bible’s reference to a goat upon which Aaron actors all the guilty of Israel and also then banished to the wilderness. Hence, the goat, though presumably blameless, was essentially punished for the sins of the people of Israel. Psychologists have expanded the principle to incorporate not just someone else to salary the price because that one’s own immorality but likewise a target of blame and also explanation when outcomes space not what one hoped for.

Historical and Research Applications of Scapegoat Theory

History includes a variety of examples of political leaders utilizing scapegoats to rally their human being at the cost of a despised group. In maybe the many blatant and tragic example, Adolf Hitler notoriously scapegoated Jews because that the reality that other Germans were enduring after civilization War I. By depicting Jews as much more commercially successful than the mean German citizen—and unfair so, through favoring other Jews—he rallied his citizens to extreme levels that nationalism at the cost of Jews and also other groups. He therefore conjured resentment and also hatred toward the group, simultaneously unifying other Germans come a singular cause: the perceived improvement of Germany.


The concept of scapegoating is likewise somewhat consistent with Sigmund Freud’s notions of displacement or forecast as defense mechanisms. Follow to Freud, people displace hostility the they organize toward unacceptable targets (e.g., parents, the boss) top top less powerful ones. Similarly, forecast refers come one’s tendency to attribute one’s own unacceptable feel or anxieties ~ above others, therefore denying them within oneself. Both mechanisms protect civilization from your illicit desires or fear by help them disapprove the notion that they room the holders of together feelings. As such, the target of your displacement or projection may serve together a scapegoat.

More recently, social psychologists have described the tendency to scapegoat in comparable terms, yet with some qualifications and also clarifications. For example, the concept of displaced aggression has actually received a an excellent deal of attention in the field. If a woman has a fight through her boyfriend, she might come home and kick her dog because that a young misbehavior. The dog, then, is she scapegoat and is paying the price for the fight v the boyfriend. The aggression the the fight developed is no being directed toward its true cause, but instead is command at the dog, i m sorry is a much more acceptable target since it can not retaliate or argue back, as the boyfriend is most likely to do. In addition, the concept of relative deprivation is relevant as one explanation for people’s propensity to scapegoat. This theory argues that people experience an unfavorable emotions as soon as they feel as though they are treated reasonably poorly for illegitimate reasons. Because that example, a human being may it is in satisfied through his or she salary till the human being learns the a partner whose work is not an excellent but that is friends through the ceo gets a raise. Now the person is reasonably deprived and also may resent the colleague because that the person’s reduced salary.

Other researchers have actually specified some problems in i beg your pardon scapegoating against a specific group is most most likely to occur. For example, the scapegoated team tends to it is in one of relatively low power. Otherwise, the group would have the ability to stamp the end the opposition carried from the masses. The scapegoated group additionally tends to it is in a group that is in which method recognizable as unique from the ingroup (the team to i m sorry one belongs), for this reason that team members have the right to be easily identified and associated v the undesired situation. Finally, the scapegoat has tendency to posture a genuine threat to the ingroup, deliberately or unintentionally. Because that example, lynchings versus Blacks rose significantly when the economic prospects because that Whites started to drop off. African Americans were perceived as a higher threat come the increasingly scarce jobs and opportunities and so to be punished in brutally tragic ways. In a soil of plenty or as soon as a team is kept totally under wraps, that group poses no threat and therefore walk not present the chance to serve as a scapegoat.

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Reference:

Glick, P. (2002). Sacrificial lambs pull on in wolves’ clothing: Envious prejudice, ideology, and also the scapegoating that Jews. In L. S. Newman & R. Erber (Eds.), expertise genocide: The society hunterriverpei.com of the Holocaust (pp. 113-142). Brand-new York: Oxford college Press.