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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2005 Feb;88(2):288-303.

Forgiveness and collective guilt assignment to historical perpetrator groups depend on level of social category inclusiveness.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, B550 Loeb Building, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1S 5B6. michael_wohl@carleton.ca

Abstract

The authors examined how categorization influences victimized group members' responses to contemporary members of a historical perpetrator group. Specifically, the authors tested whether increasing category inclusiveness--from the intergroup level to the maximally inclusive human level--leads to greater forgiveness of a historical perpetrator group and decreased collective guilt assignment for its harmdoing. Among Jewish North Americans (Experiments 1, 2, and 4) and Native Canadians (Experiment 3) human-level categorization resulted in more positive responses toward Germans and White Canadians, respectively, by decreasing the uniqueness of their past harmful actions toward the in-group. Increasing the inclusiveness of categorization led to greater forgiveness and lessened expectations that former out-group members should experience collective guilt compared with when categorization was at the intergroup level. Discussion focuses on obstacles that are likely to be encountered on the road to reconciliation between groups that have a history of conflictual relations.

PMID:
15841860
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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