Understanding Genocide: The Social Psychology of the Holocaust

By Leonard S. Newman; Ralph Erber | Go to book overview

Preface

The idea for this book evolved over the course of two meetings (1997 and 1998) of the Social Psychologists of Chicago (SPOC). At those meetings, we individually presented papers that were later expanded into our chapters in this book. Besides discovering a common interest in the central themes of this volume, we also found that we shared a concern that social psychologists were not making their voices heard in public debates about genocide and the Holocaust. At the time, there was much public and academic discussion of two monographs that are cited quite a bit in this book: Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men and Daniel Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners. The discussion centered around what caused Holocaust perpetrators to act as they did, with special attention devoted to how perpetrators construed their own behavior and the extent to which they had been affected by powerful situational forces. What was being discussed, in other words, was the social psychology of the Holocaust. Unfortunately, when any social-psychological research was cited, it tended to be quite dated. And much to our distress, few actual social psychologists seemed to be entering into the public discourse.

We resolved to do something about that state of affairs and set out to see whether contemporary work being done by social psychologists could speak to the issues that were being (and continue to be) so passionately debated by students of the Holocaust. We were not disappointed. The first concrete result of our efforts was a symposium at the annual meeting of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, in Lexington, Kentucky, in October 1998 (“Social-Psychological Perspectives on Genocide: Understanding Perpetrator Behavior”). Two other contributors to this volume (Irv Staub and Bob Zajonc) also participated in that symposium, along with John Darley. The next result of our efforts is the book you are holding in your hands. Needless to say, it will not answer all your questions about why one group of people would resolve to exterminate their neighbors. But we do believe that when you finish reading the chapters in this volume, you will have gained a deeper understanding of the personal, social, and cultural factors that can interact in such a way as to trigger the horrors of genocide.

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Understanding Genocide: The Social Psychology of the Holocaust
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface *
  • Contents ix
  • Contributors xi
  • Understanding Genocide *
  • Introduction 3
  • Notes 7
  • Part I - Becoming a Perpetrator 10
  • 1 - The Psychology of Bystanders, Perpetrators, and Heroic Helpers 11
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 2 - The Person Versus the Situation in Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners 43
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 3 - Some Cognitive and Affective Implications 68
  • References *
  • 4 - An Evaluation of Stanley Milgram's Perspective, the Most Influential Social-Psychological Approach to the Holocaust 91
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • Part II - Beyond the Individual: Groups and Collectives 111
  • 5 - Envious Prejudice, Ideology, and the Scapegoating of Jews 113
  • Notes 140
  • References *
  • 6 - Group Processes and the Holocaust 143
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 7 - Examining the Implications of Cultural Frames on Social Movements and Group Action 162
  • References *
  • 8 - Preconditions for the Holocaust from a Control-Theoretical Perspective 188
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 9 - The Zoomorphism of Human Collective Violence 222
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • Part III - Dealing with Evil 240
  • 10 - The Holocaust and the Four Roots of Evil 241
  • References *
  • 11 - Examining Hitler from a Social-Psychological Perspective 259
  • Notes *
  • References 280
  • 12 - Lying Self-Deception and Belief Change 285
  • References *
  • 13 - Does Social Psychology Exonerate the Perpetrators? 301
  • References *
  • 14 - Social Psychologists Confront the Holocaust 325
  • Note *
  • References *
  • Author Index 347
  • General Index 355
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