Understanding Genocide: The Social Psychology of the Holocaust

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

11
Instigators of Genocide
Examining Hitler From a Social-
Psychological Perspective
David R. Mandel

The question that this volume poses—What can social psychology tell us about the Holocaust?—is a difficult and complex one to answer. Perhaps it is fair to begin by saying that the Holocaust has influenced our understanding of social psychology more than the other way around. Early work in the field was directly motivated by the devastation and tragedies that took place between 1933 and 1945 (e.g., on the Holocaust, see Hilberg, 1973; on Jewish persecution from 1933–1939, see Friedländer, 1997; on the Third Reich, see Shirer, 1998). Central topics in social psychology such as attribution, social influence, and intergroup processes all have their roots in the works of thinkers who had the events of the 1930s and 1940s seared in their minds, many of whom had to flee their homelands to escape the specter of Nazism.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, seminal work in the field, such as Milgram's (1974) research on obedience to authority and the Stanford Prison Experiment by Zimbardo and his colleagues (Zimbardo, Banks, Haney, & Jaffe, 1973), continued to be motivated by a need to understand the perpetrators of the Holocaust and other acts of collective violence. To this day, these studies represent social psychology's most salient demonstrations of situationism—a core tenet of the field that emphasizes the power of the situational forces over human behavior (see Ross & Nisbett, 1991). This research, along with Arendt's (1965) insightful report on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, also provided the basis for the “banality of evil” perspective, which rejects the notion that evil acts are the result of “sadistic monsters” and instead emphasizes that evildoers are usually ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances

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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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