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Date: 2018
Date: 2016
Abstract: The current research examines how representations of a traumatic history influence contemporary intergroup attitudes. Specifically, we examine antisemitism in Hungary as a case example of how the need to defend the group's moral image motivates the assumption of a defensive representation of history − a modification of the group's narrative with regards to its culpability in past atrocities committed against another group. Two studies examined the link between defensive representations of the Holocaust, nationalism, and antisemitism. In the first, correlational study (N = 348), we found that Hungarian nationalism and antisemitism were associated, and that this association was significantly mediated by defensive representations of the Holocaust – high nationalism was associated with higher endorsement of defensive representations which in turn were associated with more antisemitism. Low nationalism was associated with greater acknowledgement of in-group responsibility for historical crimes which was associated with less antisemitism. These findings were corroborated in an experimental study (N = 165) which indicated that priming defensive representations of the Holocaust increased antisemitism, even when controlling for nationalism. Study 2 further showed, in a 2-step mediation model, that defensive representation primes increased secondary antisemitism, conspiratorial antisemitism, and negative attitudes towards Israel. We discuss the implications of defensive representations of history on contemporary intergroup relations.