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Description: In their pursuit of a moral ingroup identity, groups tend to flatter and deceive themselves, leading to predictable biases in their collective memory. Specifically, such memory biases are expected in the form of worse memory for morally problematic acts of historical perpetration. In five high-powered recall and recognition experiments (N = 3424) using between- (Studies 1—4) and within-subjects designs (Study 5), and historically accurate (all studies), randomly sampled (Studies 3—4) stimulus material in three contexts (Germany, the UK, the U.S.), we tested whether individual memories of collective events can be distorted not only in a way that attenuates ingroup-threatening perpetration information but also in a way that highlights morally affirming victimhood information. Deviating from expectations, none of our studies revealed significant differences in memory performance depending on the ingroup’s role as victim or perpetrator. Instead, equivalence testing (Studies 4—5) even rejected the presence of the minimal effect size we defined to support the proposed memory bias. We discuss the implications of this absence of individual memory distortions for the formation of social representations of history.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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