Understanding Genocide: The Social Psychology of the Holocaust

Hardcover | August 15, 2002

EditorLeonard S. Newman, Ralph Erber

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When and why do groups target each other for extermination? How do seemingly normal people become participants in genocide? Why do some individuals come to the rescue of members of targeted groups, while others just passively observe their victimization? And how do perpetrators and bystanderslater come to terms with the choices that they made? These questions have long vexed scholars and laypeople alike, and they have not decreased in urgency as we enter the twenty-first century. In this book--the first collection of essays representing social psychological perspectives on genocide andthe Holocaust-- prominent social psychologists use the principles derived from contemporary research in their field to try to shed light on the behavior of the perpetrators of genocide. The primary focus of this volume is on the Holocaust, but the conclusions reached have relevance for attempts tounderstand any episode of mass killing. Among the topics covered are how crises and difficult life conditions might set the stage for violent intergroup conflict; why some groups are more likely than others to be selected as scapegoats; how certain cultural values and beliefs could facilitate theinitiation of genocide; the roles of conformity and obedience to authority in shaping behavior; how engaging in violent behavior makes it easier to for one to aggress again; the evidence for a "genocide-prone" personality; and how perpetrators deceive themselves about what they have done. The bookdoes not culminate in a grand theory of intergroup violence; instead, it seeks to provide the reader with new ways of making sense of the horrors of genocide. In other words, the goal of all of the contributors is to provide us with at least some of the knowledge that we will need to anticipate andprevent future such tragic episodes.

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When and why do groups target each other for extermination? How do seemingly normal people become participants in genocide? Why do some individuals come to the rescue of members of targeted groups, while others just passively observe their victimization? And how do perpetrators and bystanderslater come to terms with the choices that th...

Leonard S. Newman is at University of Illinois, Chicago. Ralph Erber is at DePaul University.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:376 pages, 6.42 × 9.29 × 1.18 inPublished:August 15, 2002Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195133625

ISBN - 13:9780195133622

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Peter Browning (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)PART I - Becoming a Perpetrator1. Ervin Staub (University of Massachusetts - Amherst): "The Psychology of Bystanders, Perpetrators, and Heroic Helpers"2. Leonard S. Newman (University of Illinois at Chicago): "What is a 'Social-Psychological' Account of Perpetrator Behavior? The Person Versus the Situation in Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners"3. Peter Suedfeld and Mark Schaller (University of British Columbia): "Authoritarianism and the Holocaust: Some Cognitive and Affective Implications"4. Thomas Blass (University of Maryland Baltimore County): "Perpetrator Behavior as Destructive Obedience: An Evaluation of Stanley Milgram's Perspective, the Most Influential Social-Psychological Approach to the Holocaust"PART II Beyond the Individual: Groups and Collectives5. Peter Glick (Lawrence University): "Sacrifice Lambs Dressed n Wolves' Clothing: Envious Prejudice, Ideology, and the Scapegoating of Jews"6. R. Scott Tindale, Catherine Munier, Michelle Wasserman (Loyola University), and Christine M. Smith (Grand Valley State University): "Group Processes and the Holocaust"7 "Examining the Implications of Cultural Frames on Social Movements and Group Action". Daphna Oyserman and Armand Lauffer (University of Michigan): 8. Dieter Frey and Helmut Rez (Universitaet Muenchen): "Population and Predators: Preconditions for the Holocaust from a Control-Theoretical Perspective"9. Robert Zajone (Stanford University): "The Zoomorphism of Human Collective Violence"PART III Dealing with Evil10. Roy F. Baumeister (Case Western Reserve University): "The Holocaust and the Four Roots of Evil"11. David Mandel (University of Hertfordshire): "Instigators of Genocide: Examining Hitler from a Social Psychological Perspective"12. Ralph Erber (DePaul University): "Perpetrators with a CLear Conscience: Lying Self-Deception and Belief Change"13. Arthur G. Miller (Miami University of Ohio): "Explaining the Holocaust: Does Social Psychology Exonerate the Perpetrators?"

Editorial Reviews

"The well-researched, provocative essays in this volume look at the Holocaust, and genocide in general, from the viewpoint of social psychology" --Choice