Too Great to be Guilty? Individuals High in Collective Narcissism Demand Closure Regarding the Past to Attenuate Collective Guilt
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Description: While the Holocaust is widely regarded by Germans as one of the worst human atrocities, they differ in their readiness to express collective guilt or, in contrast, in their demand to close this chapter of history. We propose that such a demand for historical closure (HC) is particularly pronounced among individuals high in collective narcissism, and is systematically related to reduced collective guilt. Across three studies (N = 1,383), collective narcissism was significantly related to demand for HC, even when controlling for national identification and national pride. Moreover, collective narcissism was associated with reduced guilt only via demand for HC, but not via the defensive strategies of moral delegitimization of the victims or demand for recognition of the perpetrator group's suffering. Yet collective narcissism was associated via all three defensive strategies with fewer actual donations to support Holocaust survivors. We discuss how demanding HC helps group members to shield their ingroup from its negative past, thus alleviating aversive feelings of collective guilt.