Appealing to common humanity increases forgiveness but reduces collective action among victims of historical atrocities


Katharine H. Greenaway, School of Psychology, McElwain Building, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, Australia.



Appealing to common humanity is often suggested as a method of uniting victims and perpetrators of historical atrocities. In the present experiment (N = 109), we reveal that this strategy may actually work against victim groups' best interests. Appealing to common humanity (versus intergroup identity) increased forgiveness of perpetrators but independently also served to lower intentions to engage in collective action. Both effects were mediated but not moderated by reduced identification with the victim group. We, thus reveal an important feature of appeals to common humanity: That this strategy may reduce social change at the same time as helping to promote more positive intergroup attitudes. These novel findings extend research on the human identity to a new theoretically interesting and socially important domain. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.