Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version


Publication Source

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences





Start Page


Last Page





The present study explores the dramatic projection of one's own views onto those of Jesus among conservative and liberal American Christians. In a large-scale survey, the relevant views that each group attributed to a contemporary Jesus differed almost as much as their own views. Despite such dissonance-reducing projection, however, conservatives acknowledged the relevant discrepancy with regard to "fellowship"issues (e.g., taxation to reduce economic inequality and treatment of immigrants) and liberals acknowledged the relevant discrepancy with regard to "morality" issues (e.g., abortion and gay marriage). However, conservatives also claimed that a contemporary Jesus would be even more conservative than themselves on the former issues whereas liberals claimed that Jesus would be even more liberal than themselves on the latter issues. Further reducing potential dissonance, liberal and conservative Christians differed markedly in the types of issues they claimed to be more central to their faith. A concluding discussion considers the relationship between individual motivational processes and more social processes that may underlie the present findings, as well as implications for contemporary social and political conflict.

Copyright/Permission Statement

© 2012 National Academy of Sciences.


Ross, L.D., Lelkes, Y., and Russell, A.G. (2012). Projection as a Means of Dissonance Reduction: How Christians Reconcile their Personal Political Views and the Teachings oftheir Faith. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(10), 3616-3622.

Included in

Communication Commons



Date Posted: 12 October 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.