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Group-centrism in the absence of group norms: The role of need for closure in social projection


The need for closure (NFC) promotes group-centrism, referring to the pursuit of a shared reality in a group, commonly achieved through conformity to and introjection of group norms. The present study expands this perspective by examining how NFC motivates projection of one’s own norms on groups, as an alternative means to achieve epistemic security in the absence of clear group norms. In Study 1 (N = 261), individual differences in NFC predicted social projection onto an incidental crowd, providing evidence for the generic effect of NFC on social projection. In line with the assertion that the epistemic value of a collectivity is a function of the degree to which the collectivity matters for the individual, Study 2 (N = 239) and Study 3 (N = 223) revealed that NFC effects on social projection were strengthened for in-groups and disappeared for out-groups. Furthermore, mediation analyses demonstrated that essentialist entitativity beliefs mediate the relationship between NFC and in-group projection.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    For the projection measures in Study 2, internal reliability was surprisingly low, compared to the good to excellent internal reliability for the same measure(s) in Study 1, Cronbach’s α = .78, and Study 3, Cronbach’s α = .80, and Cronbach’s α = .89. Because identical stimuli and procedures were used in all three studies, we are unsure why the reliability coefficient of the projection measures in this study was considerably lower than in the other studies. In absence of an alternative explanation, it could be that Belgian students are less consistent than US adults in their social projection.

  2. 2.

    Participants that had already participated in Study 1 were barred from participating in Study 3.


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Funding was provided by BOF (BOF.STA.2014.0008.01).

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Correspondence to Jonas De keersmaecker.

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De keersmaecker, J., Roets, A. Group-centrism in the absence of group norms: The role of need for closure in social projection. Motiv Emot 41, 591–599 (2017).

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  • Need for cognitive closure
  • Group-centrism
  • Social projection
  • Essentialism