Leonard S. Newman and Ralph Erber

in Understanding Genocide

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195133622
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199847952 | DOI:

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No analysis of the Holocaust, no matter how compelling, could possibly “normalize” it. Contemplation of genocide and similar atrocities can be a devastating experience, no matter how extensively one understands the conditions that set the stage for one group to target another for extermination, and no matter how deeply one has thought about the processes that turn individuals into perpetrators. It is the job of social and behavioral scientists to at least attempt to make sense of this form of collective human behavior at the extremes. This book has shown that genocide is historically associated with crisis, fear, and threat; that crisis, fear, and threat can lead to the targeting of scapegoats; that some cultural values more than others might lend themselves to genocide; that people's behavior is often a function of obedience and conformity; that bystanders to violence and cruelty are often passive; that perpetrators resort to lying and self-deception about what they have done.

Keywords: Holocaust; genocide; human behavior; perpetrators; scapegoats; lying; self-deception; bystanders; obedience; conformity

Chapter.  9509 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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