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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2008 Mar;34(3):366-80. doi: 10.1177/0146167207311280.

A tarnished silver lining: victim suffering and support for reparations.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.


Groups around the world are seeking reparations for historical harms. In three studies, the authors examined if people are more inclined to support a historical victim group if the group continues to suffer today because of an earlier harm. In Study 1, participants perceived greater victim suffering when the harm was recent and the degree of perceived suffering positively related to victim group support. In Studies 2 and 3, the authors manipulated continued victim suffering and the feasibility of material reparations. Both variables affected victim group support, but experienced sympathy and injustice judgments mediated their effects. Suffering victims elicited more compassion when reparations seemed feasible but were treated the same as nonsuffering victims when reparations seemed unfeasible. Suffering victims were also treated equally irrespective of feasibility of reparations, whereas nonsuffering victims were treated significantly less favorably when reparations seemed feasible, versus unfeasible.

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