Greedy Elites and Poor Lambs: How Young Europeans Remember the Great War

Pierre Bouchat, Laurent Licata, Valérie Rosoux, Christian Allesch, Heinrich Ammerer, Maria Babinska, Michal Bilewicz, Magdalena Bobowik, Inna Bovina, Susanne Bruckmüller, Rosa Cabecinhas, Xenia Chryssochoou, István Csertő, Sylvain Delouvée, Federica Durante, Andreea Ernst-Vintila, Christine Flassbeck, Renata Franc, Denis Hilton, Serap Keles, Chantal Kesteloot, Reşit Kışlıoğlu, Alice Krenn, Irina Macovei, Silvia Mari, Vanja Medugorac, Nebojša Petrović, Tibor Pólya, Maaris Raudsepp, Alberto Sá, Inari Sakki, Vladimir Turjacanin, Salman Türken, Laurence van Ypersele, Danijel Vojak, Chiara Volpato, Geneviève Warland, Olivier Klein


The present study examines current social representations associated with the origins of the Great War, a major event that has profoundly affected Europe. A survey conducted in 20 European countries (N = 1906 students in social sciences) shows a high consensus: The outbreak of the war is attributed to the warring nations’ leaders while the responsibility of the populations is minimized. Building on the concept of social representation of history (Liu & Hilton, 2005), we suggest that the social representations of the Great War fulfill social psychological functions in contemporary Europe. We suggest that WWI may function as a charter for European integration. Their content also suggests a desire to distinguish a positively valued ingroup ("the people") from powerful elites, construed as an outgroup.


charter; Europe; history; social identity; social representations; WWI

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  • Pierre Bouchat, Olivier Luminet, Valérie Rosoux, Koen Aerts, Aline Cordonnier, Maxime Résibois, Bernard Rimé (2020)
    A social psychological perspective on World War II collaboration in the 21st century: A Belgian case
    European Journal of Social Psychology
  • Karl Halvor Teigen, Alf Børre Kanten (2019)
    Are random events expected to be small?
    Psychological Research

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