Psaltis, C., McCully, A., Agbaria, A., Makriyianni, C., Pingel, F., Karahasan, H., Carretero, M., Oguz, M., Choplarou, R., Philippou, S., Wagner, W. & Papadakis, Y. (2017). Recommendations for the History Teaching of Intergroup Conflicts. COST IS 1205 Working Group.

Technical Report (PDF Available) · June 2017with31 Reads
DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.12927.61602
The way recent and old intergroup conflicts are presented around the world in curricula, textbooks, civil society and social representations can be characterised by four main approaches. In the first approach, a moratorium is imposed and any reference to the conflictual past is avoided; the second is a selective approach where nation-states or groups keep silent about aspects that involve wrongdoing of one’s own group, here called “ingroup”, and offer either a positive presentation of the “ingroup” or a preservation of the memory of the conflict by reiterating master narratives of one-sided victimisation of the “ingroup”. Both of these approaches are highly problematic as they become an obstacle to conflict transformation by peaceful means and the cultivation of historical thinking. A third approach attempts to overcome conflict by a simplistic understanding of a single peaceful narrative of co-existence, which often follows outdated and unhistorical conceptions of essentialist identities as a tool for nation- building. Finally, there is the interdisciplinary approach of transformative history teaching, which attempts a critical understanding of the conflictual past through the cultivation of historical thinking, empathy, an overcoming of ethnocentric narratives and the promotion of multiperspectivity. The transformative history teaching approach is the basis on which we situate the present recommendations.
COST is supported by the EU Framework
Programme Horizon 2020
Recommendations for
the History Teaching of
Intergroup Conicts
01 I
How do we teach the history
of intergroup conicts?
The way recent and old intergroup conicts are
presented around the world1 in curricula, textbooks,
civil society and social representations can be
characterised by four main approaches. In the rst
approach, a moratorium is imposed and any reference
to the conictual past is avoided; the second is a
selective approach where nation-states or groups
keep silent about aspects that involve wrongdoing
of one’s own group, here called “ingroup”, and oer
either a positive presentation of the “ingroup” or
a preservation of the memory of the conict by
reiterating master narratives of one-sided victimisation
of the “ingroup”. Both of these approaches are highly
problematic as they become an obstacle to conict
transformation by peaceful means and the cultivation
of historical thinking2. A third approach attempts to
overcome conict by a simplistic understanding of a
single peaceful narrative of co-existence, which often
follows outdated and unhistorical conceptions of
essentialist identities as a tool for nation- building.
Finally, there is the interdisciplinary approach of
transformative history teaching, which attempts a
critical understanding of the conictual past through
the cultivation of historical thinking, empathy, an
overcoming of ethnocentric narratives and the
promotion of multiperspectivity. The transformative
history teaching approach is the basis on which we
situate the present recommendations.
Given the well-established nding that educators
often nd it dicult to deal with the conictual past
as it is considered a sensitive or controversial topic3,
our aim with the present recommendations is to
contribute to the enhancement of the capacity of
educators to successfully overcome this obstacle.
More particularly, we propose a powerful set of
suggestions for teaching practices that follow inquiry-based
constructivist approaches in history education. These
approaches primarily aim at developing historical literacy 4,
enriched by the ndings of research on history
teaching in post-conict contexts5 and recent social
psychological ndings in the eld of the study of
intergroup conict6. We understand history teaching
as the parallel development of a) substantive know-
ledge (i.e. What has happened in the past, how, and
why?), b) reexive and disciplinary understanding (i.e.
how do we know about the past), and c) mastery of a
‘toolbox’ of social psychological theories of intergroup
conict and how they relate to representations of the
past. This toolbox stimulates reection on causal links
between past and present in the historical conscious-
ness of historical subjects, including the students
themselves. It also allows for a better understanding
of historical culture7, which results from the inter-
actions between academic history, school history,
and popular history.
Teaching in history should provide students with
opportunities to engage in explorations of the past
and its dierent versions in ways that will allow them
to develop an understanding of both the content
and the epistemology of the discipline. Constructivist
inquiry-based approaches of history teaching gravitate
around the development of students’ understandings,
abilities, and dispositions in relation to the following
areas: a) how we think about the past, b) interpretations
of specic events and issues of the past, c) historical
inquiry, and d) organization and communication of
the results of historical enquiry.8
The present history teaching recommendations aim at
showcasing the way social psychological theories and
empirical ndings can contribute to the development
of all four of these abilities and dispositions. These
recommendations are mostly based on work initiated
in the context of the COST Action IS12059. The aim
of this Action was to advance knowledge of the role
played by social representations of history in processes
of ethnic, national, and European identities construction
Recommendations for the History Teaching of Intergroup Conicts I 02
and intergroup conicts. The main areas of interest
of the Action were 1) the psychological antecedents
of lay representations of history; 2) their content and
structure; 3) their transmission through history
textbooks and other media; and 4) their social
psychological eects in shaping intergroup attitudes.
The present recommendations are the outcome of
the work of an interdisciplinary working group that
was tasked to produce history teaching guidelines.
The group comprised academic historians, social
psychologists, history teachers, anthropologists and
curriculum experts from various European countries
and experts in history teaching.
03 I
COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology)
is Europe’s longest-running intergovernmental frame-
work for cooperation in science and technology funding
cooperative scientic projects called “COST Actions”.
With a successful history of implementing scientic
networking projects for over 40 years, COST oers
scientists the opportunity to embark upon bottom-up,
multidisciplinary and collaborative networks across all
science and technology domains.
Working Group Members10
Charis Psaltis, Alan McCully, Ayman Agbaria, Chara
Makriyianni, Falk Pingel, Hakan Karahasan, Mario
Carretero, Mete Oguz, Rena Choplarou, Stavroula
Philippou, Wolfgang Wagner, Yiannis Papadakis
Social PSYCHOLOGY and the study
of intergroup relations
Research in social psychology covers a wide range
of areas, like self -regulation, pro- and anti- social
behaviour, attitudes, social inuence and persuasion,
the self, interpersonal relationships, language and
communication, attribution, group processes and
intergroup relations and social representations.
The study of Intergroup relations is currently one
of the most rapidly expanding areas in social
psychology and has made great contributions
during the 20th and 21st centuries in the way we
understand the phenomena of peace and conict.
Recommendations for the History Teaching of Intergroup Conicts I 04
Social Psychological ndings and
their relevance to history teaching
Social psychology and particularly the researchers
of COST IS 1205 have been doing research on many
themes directly or indirectly related to
representations of the past and issues arising during
history teaching.
1. Social and National Identity
2. Ingroup Glorication
3. Threats
4. Trust
5. Prejudice
6. Stereotypes
7. Collective Memory
8. Intergroup Contact
9. Collective Guilt/Shame/Regret
10. Apologies
11. Group Emotions
12. Collective action
13. Moral disengagement
14. Reconciliation
15. Social Representations of the past
Below are some of the social psychological ndings
structured under key concepts suggested by a
disciplinary approach to history education. These
social psychological ndings suggest various ways in
which historical thinking is usually damaged in
post-conict settings
Procedural concepts related to how
we think about the past
Procedural concepts refer to: a) time, change and
continuity, b) causes and consequences, and
c) historical empathy.
“Time, change and continuity” describes a process
whereby students construct interpretations of
changes and continuities between and within
historical periods. They construct interpretations of
connections between events and phenomena that
take place within a specic period or in dierent ones.
In contexts in which master narratives of conict
dominate history teaching, it is expected that the
understanding of time, change and continuity will be
negatively inuenced through the use of simplistic
circular, rise-and-fall or linear progression views of history.
Such representations of the past also create a very
problematic interpretation of the relationship
between past and present11, which often takes three
forms: (a) Collapsing past and present; (b) The past
is idealized in a way that the present is viewed as a
decadent version of the past; and (c) Relating the past
to a teleological end.
Causes and consequences
Students construct interpretations of the complex
relations that exist between events, phenomena, and
changes and continuities in history and their causes.
Adherence12 to master narratives of conict lead to
the obstruction of the understanding of causality
through the use of romantic or heroic narrations of
great men, the use of simplistic historical analogies
and deterministic schemes that fail to capture
contingence, randomness and multi-causality13. An
attribution style of causality which is characterised
by its ingroup- serving bias and its pernicious eects
is what has been described as the ultimate attribution
05 I
error14. For example, groups often tend to explain
their negative past actions by referring to external
constraints, whereas they invoke their intrinsic
qualities when explaining their past positive achieve-
ment. The reverse is true when judging past actions
of other groups.
A very problematic form of causal thinking in this
context is conspiracy theories, which can be considered
as a form of “lay history15” to the extent that they
involve ascribing causality (and a very specic form of
it: the intention of a malevolent group of people) to
a series of past events that are often fortuitous and
contingent. Conspiracy theories can be caused by the
experience or salience of group victimization,
especially for students who strongly identify with
their group. Additionally, academic historians’
depictions of war events are also sometimes
inuenced by such conspiracy mentalities.
Historical empathy
Making sense of behaviours, practices, and institutions
of the past requires taking into consideration the ideas
and beliefs of the historical agents, and the context in
which they lived.
Perspective- taking becomes very dicult in post-
conict settings when this empathy has to do with the
experience of ”outgroupers”. From the perspective
of conict transformation, it is important to be able
to experience feelings of empathy for “outgroup”
suering and regret not only for harm done by the
“outgroup” to the “ingroup”, but also for past wrong-
doings of the “ingroup” towards the “outgroup”. This
historical thinking skill is obstructed by moral disen-
gagement from past wrongdoings of the ”ingroup”16
through either moral justication of the act, denial,
displacement, diusion of responsibility, disregarding,
minimizing the negative consequences of the violent
acts, and attribution of blame to the victim or circum-
stances. This specic form of historical empathy is
also harmed by the feeling of inter-group competitive
victimhood6, which describes the eorts of members
of groups involved in violent conicts to establish that
their group has suered more than their adversarial
group. This mindset not only obstructs historical
empathy, but also reconciliation eorts and the
support for peace processes.
Interpretations of the past
Sources and historical accounts
Students in history classes are expected to compare
dierent representations and interpretations of the
same event, phenomenon, historical gure, etc. They
also have to make distinctions between events and
interpretations in sources, and provide explanations
for dierent interpretations of the phenomenon.
Students, as lay historians, are particularly vulnerable
to framing their interpretations relating to the history
of conict from a position in the representational
eld18 that largely adheres to collective memory,
popular culture, and ocial narratives of conict. This
is due to one-sided contents included in curricula and
textbooks and to inuences from parents and peers.
Master narratives usually have six common features19:
(a) exclusion-inclusion as a logical operation contributing
to the establishment of the historical subject;
(b) identication processes that function as both
cognitive and aective anchors; (c) frequent presence
of mythical and heroic characters and motives,
(d) search for freedom or territory as a main and
common narrative theme, (e) inclusion of a moral
orientation and (f) a romantic and essentialist concept
of both the national or cultural group and the nationals.
Any primary or secondary source that directly or
indirectly relates to national identity, territorial claims,
or the inclusion or exclusion criteria of citizenship
claims will thus be judged against this master
narrative. Any content that challenges the master
narrative is bound to lead to resistance20 and emotional
reactions that could block their fair assessment.
The narratives of conict also support simplistic
accounts premised on a temporal sense of continuity,
especially when students feel collectively threatened
by the “outgroup”21. This sense of continuity is
closely related to self-identication processes. Groups
generally tend to have an understanding of their
Recommendations for the History Teaching of Intergroup Conicts I 06
ethnic and national identities as entities that possess
a past, a present and a future22. However, this sense
of continuity supports accounts that predict a height-
ened sense of threat, distrust and prejudice towards
various “outgroups”23. It is also closely related to
autochthony beliefs of the kind “We were here rst”24
and which, from a historical-thinking perspective, is
highly problematic because it projects an unhistorical,
homogeneous, essentialist and unchanging collectivity
that is claiming an empty space (which is rarely the case)
by choosing an arbitrary point in history as its beginning25.
Historical signicance
Students are expected to assess the signicance of
historical events, people, causes and consequences,
changes and continuities, etc. They are required to
provide explanations of dierent judgments of
historical signicance.
When we study the history of intergroup conict,
what usually happens is that signicance is distorted
in favour of events and characters relating to what is
perceived as the “ingroup”.26 Moreover, there is a
general tendency for the lay historian to seek to
explain the beginnings of historical events and
conicts rather than the end of these events with
peace agreements. In this way, more emphasis is
placed on negative aspects of intergroup conict than
on positive aspects of transformation and resolution.
Representations of the past are in fact replete with
both ethnocentric and, in the case of European coun-
tries, Eurocentric views of the past. Representations
of old conicts like WW1 and WW2 often share many
of the elements of what was described earlier as
master narratives, therefore ignoring dark pages of
the colonial past of many European countries.
Historical inquiry
Students are expected, in history classes, to identify,
combine, evaluate and interpret sources to answer
historical questions. They must also suggest, design
and apply their own historical investigations.
In post-conict and divided societies, proper historical
enquiry is often obstructed by the inaccessibility of
crucial sources of information or archives due to
linguistic, physical, legal or mental barriers . This
situation reinforces the mono-perspectival master
narratives in a single community and hinders the
emergence of counter-narratives or alternative
representations of the past. Alternative representations
would otherwise be made possible through intergroup
contact between “ingroup” and “outgroup” members,
or through their perspectives in textbooks and
In such a context, the epistemological understanding
of history also suers from a naïve realist standpoint
where fact and interpretation are collapsed into a
single “truth”. Such naïve epistemologies are
particularly vivid in situations of intractable conicts
not only among students, but also often among teach-
ers themselves27. Directly challenging such naïve
realist views not only facilitates the cultivation of
historical thinking, but it also allows for questioning
master narratives, with their pernicious eects in
terms of prejudice and distrust.
Given that students’ historical consciousness is
inuenced by popular history, it is also important to
understand that other media, beyond textbooks and
curricula, play a fundamental role in the production
and transformation of representations, as well as in
the presentation of competing representations of
the past. To this eect, press coverage of selected
historical events (e.g. WW1 and colonial past), novels,
docuctions, and movies need to be studied and
reected upon through content and narrative analyses28.
07 I
The recommendations
Challenge entrenched and unsubstantiated
positions, “myth-bust” and expose the
abuse of history
Children and young people come to classrooms
inuenced by the history absorbed from the family
and the streets. Their historical images and
representations of the past are usually enwrapped
in contemporary attitudes and politics. Students may
express misunderstandings, make unsubstantiated
assertions about historical events, or leave out aspects
of the past that have been deemed inconvenient
within their community. It is the role of the history
teacher to challenge assumptions and myths by
resorting to historical evidence and rational
arguments and to help students recognise when
history is being misused to denigrate the other.
Deconstruct master narratives
The common features of master narratives should
be explicitly discussed in the classroom through a
comparative approach to various other post-conict
settings so that students come to the position of
reecting on master narratives in their own context.
The concepts of “continuity”, “autochthony beliefs”,
“nostalgia”, “realistic threat”, “symbolic threat”,
“nation- building”, “prejudice”, “distrust”, “intergroup
contact” should be discussed both separately and
together in the way they form a coherent whole in
organizing intergroup conicts and forming
representations of the past.
Recognise complexity, initiate informed
individual interpretations, and foster
Frequently, in the interests of accessibility, the teach-
ing of history is simplied to a single narrative or to
presenting perspectives of past divisions, which leads to
stereotypical views of protagonists and group identities.
In divided societies, there is a necessity to demonstrate
that historical knowledge is provisional and discursive.
Teachers have a responsibility to introduce students to
Organization and communication
People communicate their historical knowledge and
the results of their investigations in a variety of ways,
taking into consideration both the topic and the
audience they are addressing. They choose and use
historical and chronological terms and conventions.
And they provide arguments grounded on historical evi-
dence to support their own interpretations of the past.
In the case of historical enquiry concerning past
conicts, both the organization and communication of
historical knowledge suer from censorship by school
authorities, families, peers or politicians who engage
in a process of labelling certain contents as “sensitive”.
In this way, emotionally loaded language from the
eld of political discourse is transferred down to the
level of classroom practices29 that make the commu-
nication of the ndings of historical enquiry problem-
atic. Some adventurous teachers30 or students
sometimes take the risk of engaging with sensitive
issues, but more often they submit to self-censoring,
for fear of marginalisation by the “ingroup”.
In the specic cases where students from the conict-
ing groups are taught in the same classroom31, there is
often an interesting interplay of asymmetries whereby
marginalised voices, counter narratives, and alternative
representations are obstructed from entering classroom
discussion. But the teacher can facilitate their expres-
sion, either through the use of supplementary teaching
material or textbooks that support multiperspectivity32,
or through an instructional design that diminishes the
impact of asymmetries of status on communication
in the classroom. As the literature on intergroup con-
tacts33 and their eect on prejudice reduction suggests,
teaching about the “outgroup” and positive interactions
between “ingroup” and “outgroup” members can both
improve historical knowledge and lead to prejudice
reduction and the building of trust.
Recommendations for the History Teaching of Intergroup Conicts I 08
the full spectrum of past actions, including those of
individuals who acted dierently from the majority
within their communities (for example, “ingroup”
members who can act as moral exemplars although
having rescued the lives of “outgroup” members).
Raise students’ awareness of how their
own backgrounds and allegiances might
inuence the way they interpret the past
In deeply divided societies and post-conict settings,
emotions can inuence how young people (and teach-
ers) encounter sensitive aspects of the past. Thus it
is important that students be given opportunities to
explore their own backgrounds and identities and how
they might shape their historical understanding.
This is a condition for being able to take a critical
stance towards a sensitive history. In order to achieve
this goal, teachers themselves should go through a
similar self-distancing process
Involve students in a constant dialogue
between the events of the past and the
Arguably, the past only becomes contentious when
it is linked to the present. Teachers sometimes wish
to avoid controversy in the classroom by keeping the
investigation rmly contained in the past. However,
relevance is vital to giving meaning to history teach-
ing. Teaching should be designed so that students
are encouraged to make connections between the
past and contemporary attitudes and situations in
the way that it promotes: a) dierentiating the past
from the present, b) de-idealize actions of the past,
c) presenting action of the present as contingent but
not predetermined result of the past. They should
also understand how the past is used and abused for
contemporary purposes.
Engage students in an explicit exploration
of the relationship between national
identity(ies) and history
National identities are constructed partly by drawing
on historical events, real or imagined. Students should
be given opportunity to reect on the social
construction of their own, and their community’s
sense of identity, to understand how history has
contributed to changes that led to the evolution of
identity over time – and that identity is neither xed
nor immutable. Invariable, xed, closed and exclusive
concepts of identities should be deconstructed.
Importantly, students should be taught how to
distinguish, on the one hand, versions of the past that
09 I
merely satisfy identity needs and distort facts and
interpretations to this aim and, on the other hand,
versions that bind their interpretation back to facts
and methodologically controlled, rational
Help students understand the recent,
violent past and critically examining
personal experiences of those events
Avoidance of discussion of the recent violent past
is a familiar characteristic of social interactions in
societies emerging from conict. Students are often
not encouraged to enquire, yet they are often both
curious and confused as to what has occurred and
why. Amongst adults, there is a fear that such
discussion will open up division. Yet, if it is the duty
of educators to break the cycle of violence and move
society forward, then young people must understand
the nature of conict and its consequences. Dealing
with the legacy of conict can be emotionally charged
and uncomfortable, but it can also lead to rich
learning. In a supportive environment, students
should hear the genuinely told personal stories of
those whose lives were aected by violence in one
way or another, but also apply historical critique to
what they hear. Conict is rarely one dimensional,
and there are often cases of intra-ethnic conicts
(that could be inuenced by factors such as class and
gender, among others). But they are often suppressed
in favour of a narrative that favours ingroup
Engage students in a critical discussion
of media reporting on topical political or
military events
Conspiracy theories, as they refer to past events and
conicts, need to be explicitly discussed and reected
upon in the classroom, especially as they appear on
the Internet. Media reporting, even by supposedly
“independent” media, is very often tainted by the
political, economic and ideological interests of media
owners, newsroom culture and journalists, even
Students should be encouraged to compare main-
stream media reporting with alternative media
reporting by engaged individuals on the Internet,
e.g. blogs. This should help them to learn to take a
critical position vis-à-vis broadcast news as well as
other sources, and to weigh the plausible veracity
of news contents.
Place proper emphasis not only on the
content of what is being taught but also
on the processes through which historical
knowledge is organized and communicated
Group work that engages “ingroup” and “outgroup
members in active dialogue should be encouraged as
a privileged way to promote multiperspectivity and
break the silence on “sensitive” issues. It is never-
theless important that such contexts of intergroup
contact be well planned ahead, preferably by mak-
ing use of the recent empirical ndings of the social
psychological literature on direct and indirect forms
of intergroup contact so that the ground for critical
enquiry is made possible without extreme emotional
Situate the place of teaching the
history of intergroup conict in a
connected curriculum
History teaching builds the foundation for contemporary
debate. In this sense, there should also be space elsewhere
in the curriculum for engaging with the history of inter-
group conicts in a way that democratic exchange is
developed and opportunities are given for ideas to be
acted upon, be this through citizenship education or
elsewhere in the curriculum like geography, social sciences,
literature and related elds.
Recommendations for the History Teaching of Intergroup Conicts I 10
Bentrovato, Korostelina & Schulze, 2016; Cole, 2007; Korostelina &
Lässig, 2013; Paulson, 2015; Psaltis, Carretero & Cahajic-Clancy,
Pingel, 2011.
Carretero, 2011; Van Alphen & Carretero, 2015.
Kello, 2012; Zembylas & Kambani, 2012.
Lee, 2004; 2007; 2011.
McCully, 2012; McCully & Barton, 2010; Goldberg, 2012, 2017;
Chapman, Perikleous, Yakinthou & Celal,2011; Makriyianni & Psaltis,
2007; Zembylas & Kambani, 2012.
Psaltis, Carretero & Cahajic-Clancy, 2017.
Carretero, Berger & Grever, 2017.
Chapman, Perikleous, Yakinthou, & Celal, 2011; Lee, 2005; Nichol, n.d.;
Seixas, 1996.
The working group was led by Charis Psaltis, the rest of the team
members are cited in alphabetical order.
Van Alpen & Carretero, 2015.
Licata & Mercy, 2015.
Carretero, 2017.
Pettigrew, 1979.
Klein, 20139.
Bandura, 1999; Bilali, 2013.
Bar-Tal, Chernyak-Hai, Schori, & Gundar, 2009; Noor, Shnabel,
Halabi & Nadler, 2012.
Liu & Hilton, 2005; Liu & Laszlo, 2007; Psaltis, 2012; 2016.
Bar-Tal & Salomon, 2006; Carretero, Lopez, Gonzalez,
& Rodriguez-Moneo, 2012.
Duveen, 2001.
Smeekes, McKeown & Psaltis, 2017.
Sani, Bowe, & Herrera, 2008.
Psaltis et al.; Smeekes & Verkuyten, 2015.
Martinovic & Verkuyten, 2013.
Papadakis, 2008.
Páez, Bobowic & Liu, 2016.
Nasie et al., 2014; Psaltis, Lytras & Costache, 2011.
Cabecinhas & Abadia, 2013; László, 2013.
Kello, 2012; Zembylas & Kambani, 2012.
Kitson, 2007.
Goldberg, in press.
Stradling,2003; Psaltis, 2015a,2015b.
Allport, 1954; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006; Vezzali et al., 2014.
11 I
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Bar-Tal, D., Chernyak-Hai, L., Schori, N., & Gundar, A. (2009). A sense
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Bekerman, Z., & Zembylas, M. (2011). The emotional complexities
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Bilali, R. (2013), National Narrative and Social Psychological Inuences
in Turks’ Denial of the Mass Killings of Armenians as Genocide. Journal
of Social Issues, 69: 16–33.
Branscombe, N. R., Ellemers, N., Spears, R., & Doosje, B. (1999). The
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13 I
COST is supported by the EU Framework
Programme Horizon 2020
For any inquiries relating to this Guide please contact :
Charis Psaltis,
Associate Professor of Social and Developmental Psychology
at the University of Cyprus
  • Chapter · Jan 2015 · Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Social psychologists are increasingly interested in the temporal dimensions of social life and in identity continuity in particular. Focusing on ethnicity and national identity we discuss the implications of perceived group continuity and collective self-continuity, and their interplay, for group dynamics. Using the social identity perspective and theories of identity motivation, we show, first, that the need for collective self-continuity forms a unique motivational basis for group identification. Second, we demonstrate that people are more likely to derive a sense of collective self-continuity from groups that are seen as relatively stable and immutable over time (i.e., essentialist in-groups). Third, we find that existential threats to group identity strengthen a sense of collective self-continuity, which, in turn, increases in-group defence mechanisms in the form of negative attitudes towards immigrant out-groups and towards social developments that potentially undermine in-group continuity. Fourth, we discuss empirical findings that indicate that group-based nostalgia for the nation is an identity management strategy in response to in-group continuity threats and that nostalgia leads to immigrant out-group exclusion.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Research on historical understanding has sometimes depicted adolescents and adults as either appropriating or resisting particular narrative accounts, and resistance seems to be especially common when school-based narratives differ from those encountered outside school. In Northern Ireland, however, school history does not present an alternative narrative to community-based histories, but takes a different approach altogether; school history represents an evidence-based, analytic subject that emphasizes multiple perspectives and avoids connections to contemporary identifications or political positions. Purpose: In this study, we sought to understand both how young people in Northern Ireland approached historical information in school and how they made sense of conflicting perspectives on the past. Research Design and Participants: Using qualitative, task-based interviews, we interviewed 253 secondary students, approximately equal numbers of whom had completed each of the 3 required years of historical study; these interviews included students of both genders and from differing school types in a variety of regions within Northern Ireland. Findings: We found that these students had experienced history in more complicated ways than has been evident in most previous research. They had learned about the past in a variety of formal and informal settings, and they navigated among these multiple sources in a conscious attempt to refine and extend their historical understanding as they followed up on interests initiated in one setting by seeking out information elsewhere. Although some students simply assimilated this information into dominant community narratives, most were aware that such narratives can be used for contemporary political purposes, and they appreciated that school history encouraged a more complete and balanced historical perspective, particularly by exposing them to the motivations and experiences of the other community. Even as they sought expanded historical viewpoints, however, they were unwilling to abandon the political commitments of their communities, and they sought greater contemporary relevance for history than they were likely to encounter in school. Conclusions: These students thus were not simply appropriating or resisting particular historical narratives; they were engaged in a more complex process that involved developing internally persuasive discourse as they drew from multiple historical discourses in an attempt to form their own point of view on the region's troubled past. Implications: This research suggests that students in Northern Ireland and elsewhere might benefit from a curriculum that attends more directly to their active construction of historical meaning and supports them in constructing critical perspectives on the contemporary relevance of the past.
    Article · Jan 2010
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Collective memory theories propose that groups' remembrances of their past depend upon their current social situation. In Belgium, a significant proportion of Dutch speakers share a collective memory of past victimisation by French speakers and fight for an ever-larger autonomy of their region. Yet, as the respective economic, political and social situations of the linguistic regions of Belgium recently evolved with a reversal of fortunes, the current experience of younger Dutch speakers does not fit the traditional memory anymore. We thus predicted that the collective memories of victimhood would decline amongst them, thus bringing changes in intergroup attitudes and political aspirations. Three generations were compared in a survey of 1226 French-speaking and 1457 Dutch-speaking individuals. For both groups, younger generations evidenced less regionalist and more integrative positions than older ones. However, these effects were stronger for Dutch-speaking respondents, and for them, collective memory of victimhood mediated the relation linking age and identification with Belgium, intergroup attitudes and political aspirations. We concluded that the current social context has decisive consequences for collective remembrances, which, in turn, impact intergroup relations and political attitudes and choices.
    Article · May 2015
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Master narratives about national history have been recognized as powerful cultural tools, influencing both historical understanding and national identity construction. For example, by the work of James Wertsch and studies on national history representation from a sociocultural point of view. However, the appropriation of these narratives needs to be considered in more detail for a clearer picture of how the nation is imagined and how this representation could change. In this paper a contribution is made by analyzing how the relation between past and present is constructed in master narrative representation, based on interviews with high school students narrating national history and presidential discourse commemorating it. It is proposed that the relation between past and present is constructed in three ways: past and present are identified; the past is idealized and their relation is teleologically constructed. By looking at how past and present are related in representations of the national past, the functioning of national historical myths as cultural tool becomes more clear. This contributes to clarifying how the master narrative constrains historical understanding and how it might enable national identification processes.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Research in social psychology has provided impressive evidence that intergroup contact reduces prejudice. However, to the extent that strategies based on direct contact are sometimes difficult to implement, scholars have more recently focused on indirect contact. An effective form of indirect contact is extended contact. According to the extended contact hypothesis, simply knowing that ingroup members have outgroup friends (extended contact), or observing these friendships vicariously (vicarious contact), can improve intergroup relations. Since its initial formulation a large body of studies has supported the validity of the extended contact hypothesis. In reviewing the available literature on two forms of indirect contact (extended and vicarious), we outline a model that identifies their antecedents and consequences, spanning from cognitive to affective to behavioural outcomes. In addition to identifying the main moderators of indirect contact, we also distinguish two different routes, one cognitive and one affective, that underlie what processes mediate their effects. Finally, we indicate some possible avenues for future research and we consider how direct and indirect contact strategies can be used in combination to improve intergroup relations.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014
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