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Is identifying with a historically victimized group good or bad for your health? Transgenerational post-traumatic stress and collective victimization
Article first published online: 27 SEP 2011
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
European Journal of Social Psychology
Volume 41, Issue 7, pages 818–824, December 2011
How to Cite
Wohl, M. J. A. and Van Bavel, J. J. (2011), Is identifying with a historically victimized group good or bad for your health? Transgenerational post-traumatic stress and collective victimization. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 41: 818–824. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.844
- Issue published online: 23 NOV 2011
- Article first published online: 27 SEP 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 26 JUL 2011
- Manuscript Revised: 22 JUL 2011
- Manuscript Received: 11 MAY 2011
- Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada. Grant Number: 410-2008-0922
An abundance of evidence suggests that the consequences of collective ingroup victimization can traverse generations, even among group members who are not direct descendants of victims. It nevertheless remains unclear why only some group members experience vicarious victimization. To examine the role of collective identification in the transmission of trauma across generations, we surveyed members of a Jewish community—including descendants of holocaust survivors and others who were not descendants of the holocaust survivors. Among non-descendants, Jewish identification was negatively associated with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In contrast, among descendants, Jewish identification was positively associated with PTSD symptoms. Further, familial willingness to discuss the holocaust mediated the relationship between identification and PTSD symptoms. Additional analyses confirmed that these effects were specific to holocaust-related PTSD symptoms and not general anxiety or depression. These findings suggest that collective identity may both buffer and enhance the effects of collective victimization on mental health. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.