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The impact of magnitude of harm and perceived difficulty of making reparations on group-based guilt and reparation towards victims of historical harm

Berndsen, M. and McGarty, C. (2010) The impact of magnitude of harm and perceived difficulty of making reparations on group-based guilt and reparation towards victims of historical harm. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40 (3). pp. 500-513.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.642
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Abstract

The present research investigates how reading stories about past mistreatment of children who had been in institutional care affects support for reparations, perceived difficulty of reparations and group-based guilt were investigated in two experiments. In Study 1 we showed that, when the stories increased in perceived harm, so did the perceived difficulty of making reparations whereas group-based guilt decreased. Furthermore, both perceived difficulty of making reparations and group-based guilt predicted support for reparation. It was suggested that these findings were due to a natural confound between the severity of harm and the difficulty of reparations. Study 2 included a direct manipulation of perceived difficulty that was intended to weaken or strengthen the ability to make reparations. This study demonstrated stronger group-based guilt when reparations were potentially possible and not when they are impossible. Moreover, support for reparations varied as a function of perceived difficulty of reparations and group-based guilt mediated that relationship. The research has two key implications. First, advocates of reparations as a mechanism for reconciliation and community healing need to consider the degree to which reparations are perceived to be possible and consider ways of addressing those perceptions. Second, the research provides an experimental demonstration to the power of stories about experience to bolster support for social change.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology
Publisher: Wiley
Copyright: Wiley
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/3137
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