Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

A Shared Past and a Common Future: The Portuguese Colonial War and the Dynamics of Group-Based Guilt

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

A Shared Past and a Common Future: The Portuguese Colonial War and the Dynamics of Group-Based Guilt

Article excerpt

In the present study we examine feelings of group-based guilt among Portuguese people in relation to the Portuguese colonial war, and their consequences for social behaviour. Specifically, we focus on the way Portuguese university students identify with their national group and the outgroup and their feelings of group-based guilt regarding their group's past misdeeds during the colonial period. The consequences of group-based guilt are also analyzed. 130 Portuguese university students answered a questionnaire and results show that students feel low levels of group-based guilt in relation to this period. Our results show that ingroup glorification is positively related with the use of cognitions to justify the ingroup's behaviour, presumably to avoid responsibility for the harm committed by the ingroup. Outgroup identification correlates with compensatory behavioural intentions and openness to negative information about the colonial war. As expected, feelings of group-based guilt show a significant correlation with compensatory behavioural intentions. Links between political orientation, ingroup attachment and glorification, exonerating cognitions and group-based guilt are analyzed and their implications for intergroup relations are discussed.

Keywords: group-based guilt, modes of national identification, perceived importance of information, outgroup identification, compensation.

En el presente estudio se examinan los sentimientos de culpa colectiva entre los portugueses en relación a la guerra colonial portuguesa, y sus consecuencias en el comportamiento social. En concreto, nos centramos en la manera en que los estudiantes universitarios portugueses se identifican con su grupo nacional y el exogrupo y sus sentimientos de culpa colectiva con respecto a los errores de su grupo durante el período colonial. Las consecuencias de la culpa colectiva también han sido analizadas. 130 estudiantes universitarios portugueses respondieron a un cuestionario y los resultados muestran que los estudiantes presentan bajos niveles de culpa colectiva en relación a este período. Nuestros resultados muestran que la glorificación del intragrupo está positivamente relacionada con el uso de cogniciones para justificar el comportamiento del propio grupo, así como para, presumiblemente, evitar la responsabilidad por los daños cometidos por el grupo nacional. La identificación con el exogrupo se correlaciona con la intención de compensación y con la apertura a la información negativa acerca de la guerra colonial. Como era de esperar, los sentimientos de culpa colectiva muestran una correlación significativa con la intención de compensación. Las relaciones entre orientación política, el apego y la glorificación del intragrupo, las cogniciones exonerantes y la culpa colectiva, así como sus implicaciones para las relaciones intergrupales serán discutidas.

Palabras clave: culpa colectiva, modos de identificación nacional, importancia subjetiva de información, identificación con el exogrupo, compensación.

As many other nations with a past of colonization and domination throughout the world, Portugal has recently been confronted with a need to readdress the positive way in which this period of Portuguese history is portrayed, in way to deal with the more negative consequences of the colonization period.

Specially considering the Portuguese colonial war, which lasted, in total, for 13 years (1961 to 1974) in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, there is much still to discuss about the moral standing of Portugal in relation to its former colonies.

In the present study we attempt to begin unveiling the ways in which Portuguese people identify with their ingroup and the victimized outgroup (i.e. former colonies) and experience group-based guilt in relation to this period. Therefore, we focus on the role of ingroup identification, as well as identification with the victimized outgroup and their relationship with feelings of group-based guilt and its social consequences. …

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