Journal article

Lest We Forget: The Effect of War Commemorations on Regret, Positive Moral Emotions, and Support for War

Hanne M Watkins, Brock Bastian

Social Psychological and Personality Science | SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC | Published : 2019


Why do societies commemorate war? The persistence of war commemorations suggests they serve a purpose in society. We examine one possibility: Commemorating past sacrifices may serve an “inspirational” function, by evoking pride and gratitude for soldiers’ actions and promoting a willingness to endure future sacrifices for the group. We contrast this with the (popularly espoused) “preventative” function, whereby commemorations decrease support for war by evoking regret. Drawing on one correlational study ( N = 500) and two experimental studies ( N = 600, 621) with U.S. residents, we show that although war commemorations inconsistently induce regret for the country’s actions, they consistently..

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