Displace or Diffuse Responsibility

The fourth method of dissociating actions from their consequences is to displace or diffuse responsibility (see lower box in Figure 16.2). With displacement, people minimize the consequences of their actions by placing responsibility on an outside source. Examples include an employee who claims that her boss is responsible for her inefficiency and a college student who blames his professor for low grades.

A related procedure is to diffuse responsibility—to spread it so thin that no one person is responsible. A civil servant may diffuse responsibility for her actions throughout the entire bureaucracy with such comments as "That's the way things are done around here" or "That's just policy."

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