Friday, December 04, 2009

Ongoing Victim Suffering Increases Prejudice

Imhoff and Banse empirically test the secondary-anti-Semitism theory, which suggests that every reminder of the German atrocities and the victims' suffering still evokes aversive feelings of guilt and thus increases a defensive anti-Semitism—even in Germans born decades after 1945. (Hence the famous quip from Israeli psychoanalyst Zvi Rex that "The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.") The bogus pipeline (BPL) mentioned is a classic approach for revealing socially undesirable attitudes or behavior in which participants are led to believe that they are being monitored by a psychophysiological apparatus that can detect untruthful responses. Previous research has shown that individuals disclose more socially undesirable behaviors and attitudes under BPL conditions than when the BPL is not employed. Here is the abstract:
Some people have postulated that the perception of Jews' ongoing suffering from past atrocities can result in an increase in anti-Semitism. This postulated secondary anti-Semitism is compatible with a number of psychological theories, but until now there has been no empirical evidence in support of this notion. The present study provides the first evidence that ongoing suffering evokes an increase in prejudice against the victims. However, this effect became apparent only if respondents felt obliged to respond truthfully because of a bogus pipeline (BPL); without this constraint, the perception of ongoing victim suffering led to a socially desirable reduction in self-reported prejudice. The validity of the BPL manipulation was confirmed by the finding that it moderated the relation between explicit and implicit anti-Semitism, as measured with an affect misattribution procedure.

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