Social Psychologists Confront the Holocaust

Leonard S. Newman, Ralph Erber

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

18 Scopus citations


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'sbehavior 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Genocide
Subtitle of host publicationThe Social Psychology of the Holocaust
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199847952
ISBN (Print)9780195133622
StatePublished - Sep 26 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Bystanders
  • Conformity
  • Genocide
  • Holocaust
  • Human behavior
  • Lying
  • Obedience
  • Perpetrators
  • Scapegoats
  • Self-deception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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