Coming to Terms with the Past Marked by Collective Crimes: Collective Moral Responsibility and Reconciliation

Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS)


This chapter addressed a question pertinent for all post-conflict societies but particularly for those characterized by commission of massive and collective violence. The question as to how people should deal with massive human rights violations committed by their group was analyzed. It was argued that acceptance of collective (moral) responsibility is the key process for sustainable, peaceful, and democratic future. This theoretical and practical argument was followed by empirical evidence from different studies (set in the context of post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina) illustrating possible socio-psychological predictors and consequences of acknowledgment and acceptance of collective (moral) responsibility. The findings of two empirical studies demonstrated the importance of intergroup contact for the process of public acknowledgment of one’s group responsibility for committed atrocities. The findings of a third study showed that affirming a positive aspect of the self can increase one’s willingness to acknowledge ingroup responsibility for wrongdoings against others, express feelings of group-based guilt, and consequently provide greater support for reparation policies.


Acknowledgment Collective responsibility Intergroup reconciliation Intergroup contact Self-affirmation 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Political Science and International Relations DepartmentSarajevo School of Science and TechnologySarajevoBosnia and Herzegovina

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