Leone, G., Giner-Sorolla, R., D’Errico, F., Migliorisi, S., & Sessa, I.
It’s time to be ashamed! Reactions to the breaking of a long-lasting self-censorship on ingroup war crimes
This study explores the reactions of Italian university students to information about colonial crimes perpetrated by the Italian Army during the invasion of Ethiopia (1935-36), events that are still self-censored in intergenerational narratives. Participants reported their emotions about the Italian colonial past and their knowledge of this historical period was examined. Then they read a parrhesic (i.e., straightforward) or, alternatively, an evasive narrative of crimes committed in Ethiopia in 1935-36 and, once again, reported related emotions. A week later, they evaluated the crimes’ seriousness, reported for the third time their emotions about Italy’s colonial past, and declared their moral shame, social shame, and guilt for colonial crimes. Finally, they expressed their support for reparative actions. As expected, the vast majority of participants knew little about past misdeeds. Participants presented with a parrhesic narrative were more able to acknowledge older generations’ responsibilities and to distance themselves morally from them. Moral and social shame, outrage, and a reduced sense of pride, rather than guilt or anger, predicted support for reparations. The limitations of the present study, and future research perspectives, are discussed.
Testing, Psychometrics, Methodology in Applied Psychology, 2018, Vol. 25, pp. 519-535, DOI: 10.4473/TPM25.4.4