International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

1I Toward a psychology of genocide - theoretical and methodological advances, practical implications

(Session Organizer) Johanna Ray Vollhardt, Clark University; (Chair) Johanna Ray Vollhardt, Clark University

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: Clark University
Research Area: Political conflict, violence, and crisis

The psychology of genocide has stimulated a lot of scholarly debate and interest in the public, fostered by books such as “Eichman in Jerusalem” (Arendt, 1963), “Ordinary Men” (Browning, 1992), or “The Roots of Evil” (Staub, 1989). Nevertheless, psychological perspectives are still underrepresented in genocide studies, and empirical research is scarce - mostly due to the inherent methodological and practical challenges. The proposed panel aims to bring together junior and more senior scholars who have been researching the psychology of genocide, to discuss the methodological and theoretical advances that are needed in order to further this area of study. Roundtable participants will discuss developments of the field since its beginnings, and identify questions that have been understudied and require theoretical refinement. A psychology of genocide must necessarily be interdisciplinary, and draw on historical sources. Roundtable participants will address ways of integrating historical materials with psychological theories and methods to create more meaningful programs of research on the psychology of genocide. Epistemic limitations that arise when psychologists fail to communicate with historians will be discussed. Last but not least, the psychology of genocide has crucial practical implications for policy and intergroup relations. Roundtable participants will address interventions in the aftermath of genocide, and discuss which future research might increase the potential to contribute meaningfully to the prevention of genocide. In sum, this roundtable aims to stimulate discussions that will contribute to advances in our understanding of the psychology of genocide from a theoretical, methodological, and practical perspective.