Following the crowd?

What is Collective Projection and How Does it Affect Society?

Sometimes it’s good; sometimes not

Bev G 🧙‍♀️
5 min readOct 25, 2022
Photo by Alyssa Stevenson on Unsplash

Collective projection occurs in many predictable and unpredictable ways. It happens when a mood, a perception, a mode of behavior appears to spread through the population like a virus; spontaneously passing from one person to another.

We might attribute some of this to fashion, or trends perhaps. Often the media fuels collective projection and even directs its focus. Via social media, an event, topic, or even a feeling, can circulate the globe several times in a matter of hours.

Therefore, the pressure of collective projection on people’s behavior is an important factor to consider when dissecting social trends.

Personal projection is when we observe and judge traits or behavior in another person that we don’t recognize in ourselves, yet are clearly in evidence. We simply cannot see them.

Collective projection is different. It’s an outlet for people to indulge themselves in behavior that would normally be foreign to them. It is as though we use the outer world as a canvas on which to project inner emotions we would usually suppress.

Collective Grief

When Diana, Princess of Wales died in a tragic accident in 1997, the resulting outpouring of grief changed the public perception of her completely. From being a royal celebrity, a fashionista, and a divorcee living life slightly on the seedy side, in death — with the help of collective projection — she attained a saint-like status. Whatever your opinion of her as a person, it was impossible not to get caught up in the wave of grief that washed over the UK, and indeed, the world.

Since then, people in Britain have changed from their previous tendency to keep grief to themselves to expressing it openly.

Officials collected a million bouquets from outside the royal palaces after Diana’s death.

Conversely, although the recent death of Queen Elizabeth ll was, of course, mourned, the outpouring was contained to a few days. We’re over it. The mourning of Diana went on for weeks… and her death is still on topic today.



Bev G 🧙‍♀️

Mama of three grown children and six dogs. Generally a bit weird. Lives in Wales, UK.