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Ethics in an Age of Terror and GenocideIdentity and Moral Choice$
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Kristen Renwick Monroe

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151373

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151373.001.0001

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The Political Psychology of Genocide

The Political Psychology of Genocide

(p.189) Chapter 8 The Political Psychology of Genocide
Ethics in an Age of Terror and Genocide

Kristen Renwick Monroe

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on why all of the participants—rescuers, bystanders, or perpetrators—had claimed that they had no choice in how they treated others during World War II. It argues that self-image is the central psychological variable, with rescuers, bystanders, and Nazi supporters revealing dramatically different self-concepts. Identity constrains choice for all individuals, not just rescuers, though character and self-image are not all there is to it. The chapter further asserts that the ethical importance of values works through the fashion in which values are integrated into the speaker's sense of self and worldview. Personal suffering, in the form of past trauma, heightens awareness of the plight of others for rescuers; for bystanders and Nazis, however, it increases a sense of vulnerability manifesting itself in a defensive posture and heightened in-group/out-group distinctions. Finally, the chapter notes that the speakers' cognitive categorization systems carry strong ethical overtones.

Keywords:   political psychology, genocide, World War II, self-image, self-concepts, values, personal suffering

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