History and its comprehension – Cognitive infrahumanization in contemporary history textbooks and lay narratives  

Vincze O.
University of Pecs, Institute of psychology, Pecs, Hungary

Infrahumanization is currently one of the most studied topics in social psychology. Several studies have pointed out that people tend to ascribe the essential human characteristics to the ingroup, while these characteristics are denied to the outgroup. This phenomenon was demonstrated to be related to emotions (Leyens et. al. 2000) and also, in a broader sense, to mental states (Kozak, 2006). The psychological significance of this latter, the so called cognitive infrahumanization was the focus of our research. Ten historical events as portrayed in contemporary history schoolbooks and in lay narratives were analyzed according to the distribution of cognitive state verbs and expressions. Results show that while history textbooks tend to ascribe cognitive sates in an equal proportion to in- and outgroup, in lay narratives in the case of negative events cognitive actions are attributed almost exclusively to the outgroup.