CARP Webinar # 2: The Psychology of Character Assassination with Eric Shiraev

This webinar features a conversation with Dr. Eric Shiraev (George Mason U) about the psychology of character assassination. What can we learn from psychology? Are there inborn “character attackers?” Are there psychological features that make us vulnerable to character attacks?

  • “Some attackers can be psychologically motivated to launch an attack on their target. In fact, there are some people who may enjoy hurting others simply because they can hurt. In today’s social media it is easy to do: a person remains anonymous and acts like an evil troll attacking people online.” 
  • “Knowing something unusual about a public figure has always been a source of motivation for many people. This is one of the mechanisms by which rumors spread. People also prefer to hear bad news about people they don’t like. People also can be psychologically hostile toward those who become threats to their idols, to their profits, or role models.”
  • “Many people mourned the death of Mozart. And it is not surprising to us that the villain had been found. It was Antonio Salieri, who as we know today had nothing to do with the death of Mozart. Ask a few educated people to quickly tell you what association comes to their mind first when they hear the name, “Salieri”. Most probably, you will hear “Mozart” and then “death” or “poisoned” mentioned in the same sentence. However, historians almost categorically say that all the evidence suggests that Salieri did not kill Mozart.”


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