Difference Between Gaslighting and Straw Man (With Table)

“A lot of arguments can be avoided if we simply stop and think about our response before we say it.” A quote by Charles Harper helps in enlightening how one should respond in a compatible conversation. Sadly people need to work on their ways. Straw Man is an example of a fallacious argument.

Gaslighting and Straw Man are types of psychological manipulation and arguments, respectively. There are very different from each other. Gaslighting can be quite severe in some cases, and thus, one should go, to a professional, if they are suffering from it.

Gaslighting vs Straw Man

The difference between Gaslighting and Straw Man is that Gaslighting is a manipulating tactic while Straw Man is a type of fallacious argument. The main reason for Gaslighting by people is to gain power over others. The main reason why people Straw Man is to distract people from the actual argument or conversation going.

Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic. A person who uses this tactic is called a gaslighter, and It can be counted as emotional abuse to the person the gaslighter is using towards. Once recognized by people, the person should seek professional help if the emotional abuse turns into a physical form.

Straw Man is a fallacious tactic played by the person in different ways in a conversation. It can happen anywhere, whether it be in a professional debate to any decision-making in a company. These arguments are used to catch the opponent of the person off guard in a conversation.

Comparison Table Between Gaslighting and Straw Man

Parameters of ComparisonGaslightingStraw Man
Person NameGas Lighter A Straw Man
Another nameHoodwinkingAunt Sally argument
First usedUsed since the times of Aristotle but from the 1950s in print media.1938 play and then in a 1944 movie.
TypesMedical gaslighting, Racial Gaslighting, Political Gaslighting, etc.Debate Straw Man argument, Media Straw Man argument, etc.
ExamplesDiverting the conversation, countering, stereotyping, etc.Distorting, attacking a particular part of a conversation, etc.

What is Gaslighting?

“Gaslighting is an attempt to change the truth.” quoted by Tracy Malone. It explains how and what length can Gaslighting can go through. So much that it can change the truth of a situation, it is an emotional abuse tactic played by a person on others. The person using the tactic is called a Gaslighter.

Gaslighting a person makes her or her question the sanity of the other person. The person gaslighting may or may not know if they are using this tactic. They might feel overly insecure, and thus, manipulating other people makes them feel powerful to a limit. If someone senses that a person is gaslighting, then they should start being careful around the person and keep an eye on their activities.

A Gaslighter’s victim often becomes dependent on the Gaslighter, thus fulfilling the aim of the Gaslighter. Gaslighting may be a symptom of diseases like anxiety, depression, or any other type of mental illness. The need to Gaslight starts with the desire to control someone.

What is Straw Man?

Straw Man is a type of Fallacious argument that makes the opponent’s mind divert from the actual conversation to the Straw Man’s viewpoint. “The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” Joseph Joubert stated the right reason for having an argument, but the reason someone uses Straw Man is to take out certain information from the whole argument.

Straw Man is also called a Straw Dog and Strawman. The best way for someone who is facing a Straw Man argument is to be firmly stable on their point of the argument because the person using the Straw Man would try their best to divert the direction of the conversation. The person who the Strawman is talking to is said to be ‘attacking’ the Straw Man. It is not a physical activity but just a counter viewpoint.

An example for Straw Man would be taking out quotes or certain words from a context and making their argument based on those. The main thing of Straw Man is to not address the topic that is going on. Many political parties, Media like newspapers, Magazines, and debates use this tactic on people.

Main Differences Between Gaslighting and Straw Man

  1. They both have different meanings. Gaslighting is a type of manipulation tactic played by a person on others. Straw Man is a fallacious argument that means giving responses irrelevant to the topis going on.
  2. Gaslighting is a more severe thing than Straw Man. It can affect the people around much more than using Straw Man arguments.
  3. One needs to go through professional help, in extreme cases, if they are a Gaslighter (A person who uses a lot of Gaslighting.) On the contrary, there is no need for a person using the Straw Man argument to seek professional help.
  4. Gaslighting can turn from mental abuse to physical abuse. On the other hand, Straw Man does not turn into anything that can harm anyone physically.
  5. The idea of Straw Man is to not address a conversation correctly. In comparison, the idea of Gaslighting to manipulate someone.


It is quite vital to understand these behavioral tactics in a person. Why? Because since they can be and are used in daily lives in daily conversations, they can show if a person using them is going through something. Even if Straw Man is not that big, it is not particularly healthy to use that in arguments.

While Straw Man is just a type of argument, mainly used in debates, Gaslighting can be a mental disorder, and one should seek help from a psychologist if people around the person are sensing the symptoms of gaslighting in them. This step should be very carefully taken and fast since Gaslighting can turn physical.


  1. https://books.google.co.in/books?id=Sq80DwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=what+is+straw+man&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjV8bShyo_xAhWzxzgGHYErCaIQ6AEwAHoECAcQAw#v=onepage&q=what%20is%20straw%20man&f=false
  2. https://books.google.co.in/books?id=SaRnDwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=what+is+gaslighting&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjG0Lmyyo_xAhUFzTgGHZmaAUIQ6AEwAHoECAMQAw#v=onepage&q=what%20is%20gaslighting&f=false
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