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      Shame on Me? Shame on You! Emotional Reactions to Cinematic Portrayals of the Holocaust


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          The media are playing an increasingly important role in teaching the public about the history of the Holocaust. In Germany, however, Holocaust documentaries have been criticized for eliciting unintended, adverse reactions among the viewers, such as distancing from the victims or calling for closing the books on the past. This criticism stems from the concern that such reactions pose an obstacle to critical-constructive engagement and coming to terms with history. This study examines the interplay between cinematic representation of the Holocaust, film-induced defensive strategies, and group-based emotions of shame. Based on a content analysis of six different film excerpts, we investigated the mediating effects of four defensiveness strategies (distancing from victims, victim blaming, closeness to perpetrators, and rejection of the relevance of the Holocaust) on group-based shame in a sample of 224 pupils from Germany’s third post-war generation in a quasi-experimental field study. The results reveal the complexity of film-portrayals which can foster as well as hinder group-based shame and thus, a constructive dealing with past injustice.

          Translated abstract

          Die Medien spielen eine immer wichtigere Rolle in der Vermittlung der Geschichte des Holocaust. Holocaust-Dokumentationen sahen sich in der Vergangenheit in Deutschland dem Vorwurf ausgesetzt, nicht-intendierte und unerwünschte Reaktionen unter den Zuschauerinnen und Zuschauern hervorzurufen, wie beispielsweise eine Distanzierung von der Opferseite oder der Forderung, einen Schlussstrich unter die Geschichte zu ziehen. Diese Kritik entstammt der Befürchtung, solche Reaktionen könnten eine kritisch-konstruktive Auseinandersetzung mit der Geschichte erschweren. Die vorgestellte Studie untersucht das Zusammenspiel zwischen unterschiedlichen filmischen Darstellungsformen des Holocaust, durch diese hervorgerufene Abwehrmechanismen und gruppenbasierte Formen von Scham. Ausgehend von einer Inhaltsanalyse von sechs unterschiedlichen Filmausschnitten untersuchten wir in einer quasi-experimentellen Feldstudie die Mediationseffekte von vier verschiedenen Abwehrmechanismen (Distanzierung von der Opferseite, Beschuldigung der Opfer, Nähe zur Täterseite und Zurückweisung der Relevanz des Holocaust) auf gruppenbasierte Scham anhand einer Stichprobe von 224 Schülerinnen und Schülern der dritten Nachkriegsgeneration in Deutschland. Die Ergebnisse beschreiben die Komplexität von Filmdarstellungen des Holocausts und legen dar, wie diese eine konstruktive Auseinandersetzung mit Geschichte hemmen, aber auch unterstützen können.

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                Author and article information

                J Soc Polit Psych
                Journal of Social and Political Psychology
                J. Soc. Polit. Psych.
                28 August 2017
                : 5
                : 2
                : 367-395
                [a ] Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry , Munich, Germany
                [b ]Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz , Konstanz, Germany
                [3]Department of Psychology, Clark University, Worcester, MA, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Kraepelinstr. 2-10, 80804 Munich, Germany. kopf-beck@ 123456psych.mpg.de
                Copyright @ 2017

                All content is freely available without charge to users or their institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission of the publisher or the author. Articles are distributed under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                : 30 March 2014
                : 08 February 2017
                Original Research Reports

                Film-Effekte,TV-documentaries,content analysis,film-effects,Verteidigungsstrategien,Holocaust,group-based shame,Inhaltsanalyse,gruppenbasierte Scham,TV-Dokumentationen,defensiveness strategies


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