Three Fish at One Hook? – Future-oriented, Reconciliatory, and Defensive Claims for Historical Closure (HC) as Expressions of the Same Defensive Desire
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Description: Historical perpetrator groups seek to shield themselves from image threat by advocating for closing the discussion of their crimes. However, from a broader theoretical perspective, such demand for historical closure (HC) may also reflect willingness to reconcile with the victim group or to focus on the future rather than the past. In nine studies across four different contexts (Germany, US, Italy, Australia; N = 3405), we analyzed whether these three facets of HC (defensive, reconciliatory and future-oriented) indeed substantially differ. Contrary to expectations, nomological network analyses suggested that all three facets reflect the same defensive desire (Studies 1a–2c) and are perceived as overall similar from a third-party perspective (Study 3). Finally, all three HC facets showed a positive trend toward costly avoidance of confrontation with the ingroup’s perpetrator past (Studies 4a–c). We discuss implications for (and against) a more nuanced understanding of the demand for HC.