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The effect of group identity on memories of past conflicts

Rezarta Bilali, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The present research examined how group members construe events of conflict and violence in which their ingroup was involved and shed light on the relationship between ingroup identification and those construals of intergroup conflict. I proposed that construals of intergroup conflict vary along two main dimensions, attributions of responsibility and perceived severity of harm. Drawing on social identity theory, in three survey studies, I derived and tested hypotheses regarding cross-group and within-group variations in these dimensions. The first study examined the influence of ingroup identification (identification with Turkish nationality) on individuals' construals of a historical period characterized by intergroup violence (Armenian-Turkish conflict). Study 2 sought to extend this investigation in a different conflict context (Turkish-Kurdish conflict) by examining construals of a recent conflict which occurred during respondents' lifetime. Furthermore, it examined whether the influence of ingroup identification on construals of conflict varies as a function of one's group membership (Turks vs. Kurds). Study 3 extended the prior findings to examine whether individual differences in the strength of ingroup (Hutu vs. Tutsi) identification are an important predictor of construals of conflict in a context of ongoing extreme violence between groups (ethnic conflict in Burundi).

Subject Area

Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Bilali, Rezarta, "The effect of group identity on memories of past conflicts" (2009). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3379939.