I am looking for the term {or would like suggestions for how to express this) for the event when one person in a group is to blame for an event and the whole group gives mainly false confessions, in solidarity.

An example: There are 10 people in a group, and Bill breaks something. The president says "Somebody broke this," and one by one each member of the group volunteers that they did it, so the expected consequences are nullified or spread out.


You could refer to it as "Spartacussing" or "Spartacizing", in reference to the famous scene from the movie Spartacus where an entire captured army shares the punishment for leading a rebellion rather than give up the true leader to suffer by himself. (A clip of this scene is available at youtube.com, and it is referenced as a well-known trope on TVTropes.com.)

I should point out that this is not an established word, but it is likely that a reasonable number of people will recognize the reference.

  • Spartacizing ftw ! Aug 28 '16 at 21:27
  • Wasn't that movie based on factual events? If so... and artistic licensing aside, then "Sparticious" behavior such as this would be in reference to the first recorded group/squadron to do this, not the actual movie which was made recently ;)
    – user191580
    Aug 29 '16 at 14:19
  • Ah, yes -- agree, @JohnRakoczycan u edit the above? Aug 29 '16 at 18:45
  • Please do not edit that in, it's a horrible-sounding word and that part of the movie is fictitious anyway: "Crassus demands to know which of the captured slaves is Spartacus. They all stand up, shouting, "I'm Spartacus!" Sadly, this is not true. Spartacus was never captured. He was killed in battle with a spear through his thigh, stranded in the middle of Roman forces by his fleeing comrades. " --from theguardian.com/film/2009/sep/24/spartacus-reel-history
    – Hellion
    Aug 29 '16 at 22:23

I think you are referring to the concept of:

Collective punishment/responsibility:

  • Penalty applied to each member of a group regardless of a member's involvement in the group's actions and conduct.

(Law Dictionary)

  • 1
    No; the false confession aspect is missing. Aug 17 '16 at 19:35
  • @Edwin - that is implicit in the collective responsibility.
    – user66974
    Aug 17 '16 at 19:48
  • 2
    I disagree. 'Collective responsibility' means that everybody is to blame when something goes wrong. Here, something is wrong and everybody wrongly takes the blame upon themself. Aug 17 '16 at 20:41
  • @EdwinAshworth you are spot on! yah, it’s a new concept and I’m not sure there is a word for it. Aug 28 '16 at 12:42
  • The I-am-Spartacus ploy. Though if dilution is implied by 'spread out' in DJClayworth's 'so the expected consequences are nullified or spread out', it didn't seem to have the desired effect the first time round. Aug 28 '16 at 13:48

I would say it's called solidarity, but also camaraderie, fellowship, and loyalty might also be good candidates. Some could argue that this behavior is a good example of leadership, and support of that leadership (which points right back to the first 4 things I mentioned).

  • But these terms aren't nearly specific enough. Aug 17 '16 at 19:36
  • 1
    It's a hard concept and there is no definition for it currently. I would say solidarity or maybe "social concordance" because of the definition of solidarity: unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group. synonyms: unanimity, unity, like-mindedness, agreement, accord, harmony, consensus, concurrence, cooperation, cohesion, fraternity, mutual support; formal concord. see also plato.stanford.edu/entries/social-norms
    – user191580
    Aug 17 '16 at 19:50
  • I think these are good words, but they seem to describe the concept instead of naming it. I also agree with your comment that it is a hard concept.
    – Joe
    Aug 28 '16 at 0:42

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