The Effect of Monuments on Emotions and Tolerance
32 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2022
Date Written: December 8, 2022
Can monuments to victims of authoritarian regimes promote more tolerant societies? We look into the case of stumbling stones commemorating victims of the Nazi regime in Germany (Stolpersteine). Unlike other monuments, Stolpersteine are dedicated to ordinary citizens who were victims of an authoritarian regime, in an effort to promote tolerance. In a pre-registered survey experiment, we showed treated individuals pictures of the stones. Our results show that exposure to Stolpersteine strongly increased negative emotions and reduced positive ones. The results on attitudinal and behavioral outcomes are less pronounced. This difference in effect is likely driven by ceiling effects. We further find a positive effect on tolerance toward the only minority group that does not face very high tolerance in the control group. The results of our study indicate that people are not indifferent to monuments in their daily lives.
Keywords: collective memory; Stolpersteine; survey experiment; places of memory; monuments
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