Impacts of character morality on egocentric projection and identification

Shuo Zhou*, Michael A. Shapiro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Studies in the social cognition literature indicate that several strategies play a role in how observers understand an observed actor, including by simulating the actor's perspective (identification), and/or an audience member projecting their own perspective onto the actor's mind (egocentric projection). In processing story characters, there is evidence that taking a character's perspective and projecting one's own perspective are distinct psychological mechanisms used to understand a character. Manipulating a common and much studied narrative feature—character morality—we examined how morality influences the way audience members process story characters. Three experiments consistently found that audience members tend to have higher levels of both egocentric projection and identification with the character when interpreting moral characters, compared to immoral characters. Confirmatory factor analysis shows that egocentric projection and identification are two distinct constructs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101731
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

User-Defined Keywords

  • Character morality
  • Egocentric projection
  • Identification
  • Narrative processing


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