Rick Perry, Treason, and Psychological Distancing

August 18, 2011

On Tuesday, August 16, Rick Perry was surprised to learn that other politicians did not approve of his statement claiming that it would be “treasonous” if the Federal Reserve Chair printed more money. Oddly, throwing around the word treason is not something that most presidential candidates have historically done. According to the Austin American Statesman:

Perry didn’t back down. “Look, I’m just passionate about the issue,” he said in Dubuque, Iowa. “And we stand by what we said.”

Did you catch that? “And we stand by what we said.” Hmmmm. We? Who exactly is we? This is a classic way that people psychologically distance themselves from what they are saying.

Watch the pronouns.

James W. Pennebaker
Author of the forthcoming book, The Secret Life of Pronouns (NY: Bloomsbury)

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