Psychological projection

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Projection is the psychological phenomenon where someone denies some aspect of their behavior or attitudes and assumes instead that others are doing or thinking so. It is usually seen as the externalisation of a person's negative traits, placing blame on an outside force such as the environment, a government, a society or other people.

Projection can also extend to philosophy and knowledge. This occurs when a person or small group of people assume that everyone else is working with the same ideas and/or information that they are. When this fails to happen, however, it can lead to pluralistic ignorance.

A telltale sign of this is when a speaker says that "Everybody knows that...(a certain course of action)" is either beneficial or harmful, so society should avoid an impending catastrophe by following the course of action that the speaker proposes.

Another common forum for projection is in internet arguments, where it is usually pathetically obvious to everyone except the projector.[1] In that context, the phenomenon may be called mirror-imaging.

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  1. The problem is recognized in intelligence analysis, in the form of cognitive traps for intelligence analysis.
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