Elaboration of traumatic historical events in the media – Longitudinal content analytic study of the press coverage of the dissolution of the Habsburg Monarchy in the Hungarian press from 1920 to 2007  

Ilg B.
University of Pécs, Pilis, Hungary

Research group at the University of Pécs has developed a set of programs for narrative psychological content analysis. These programs are related to social psychological phenomena of inter-group relations in historical narratives. The programs measure agency in inter-group conflicts, collective emotions, primary and secondary emotions, intentionality, cognitive processes, and negation. These computer algorithms also have the capacity to tie psychological “hits” to characters and groups participating in the narrated event. The dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which was completed by the Paris Treaties in 1920, was a traumatic experience to Hungarian national identity because of the secession of two thirds of the former territory as well as population of the country. History leading to this event as well as consequences of the Paris Treaty have been discussed in the mass media in details ever since, however in changing length and political orientation depending on the changing historical epochs in the twentieth century. A sample consisting of left wing, liberal and conservative daily news papers was selected for analysis. Sample texts dealing with the Paris Treaty were selected from every fifth year of each journal from 1920 to 2007 arriving at a text corpus of 300 000 characters. This corpus was analyzed with the aforementioned programs looking for differences and changes in emotions, cognitions, negations, group agency and group intentionality. The results show that the elaboration of the trauma is reflected in a decreasing number of negations, increasing cognitions by both in-group and out-group, decreasing intentionality of out-groups for bad deeds, and increasing in-group agency in bad deeds.