National Narrative and Social Psychological Influences in Turks’ Denial of the Mass Killings of Armenians as Genocide


  • This research was supported by a Harry Frank Guggenheim dissertation fellowship and grants from the International Peace Research Association Foundation and the Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues. The author thanks Linda Tropp, Nilanjana Dasgupta, David Matz and the issue editors for their comments in earlier drafts of this article.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Rezarta Bilali, Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance, University of Massachusetts, 100 Morrissey Blvd, Wheatley Hall, 4th floor, Boston, MA 02125 [e-mail:].


This article sheds light on the nature of the Turkish denial of Armenian mass killings. A survey study investigates Turkish students’ construals (i.e., attributions of responsibility and perceived severity of harm) of Turkish massacres of Armenians at the beginning of the 20th century. The results demonstrated a high correspondence between participants’ individual construals and the Turkish official narrative of the events. Structural equation modeling indicated that in-group glorification, perceived in-group threat, and positive attitudes toward war predicted less acknowledgment of in-group responsibility, which in turn predicted less support for reparations of the harm inflicted on Armenians. The study highlights the influence of government-sponsored national self-images in the production and endorsement of legitimizing narratives of the in-group's violence. The findings call for research that examines the combined influence of psychological and societal mechanisms on people's beliefs about in-group actions.