Motivated to "Forget": The Effects of In-Group Wrongdoing on Memory and Collective Guilt

Katie N. Rotella, Jennifer A. Richeson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Reminders of in-group wrongdoing can prompt defensive responses that affect intergroup relations. Across two studies, American participants were randomly assigned to have their American identity increased (or not), then read a passage describing the negative treatment of Native American Indians by perpetrators described as either early Americans (i.e., in-group members) or European settlers (i.e., out-group members). Memory for the content of the passage and feelings of collective guilt were assessed. Participants demonstrated poorer memory when the perpetrators were framed as in-group (Americans), rather than out-group (Europeans), members. Further, participants in the in-group perpetrator condition whose American identification was primed experienced less collective guilt compared with participants in the in-group perpetrator condition whose American identification was not primed. Implications for intergroup relations and the understanding of collective memory are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-737
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Volume4
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013

Keywords

  • collective guilt
  • memory
  • social identity threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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