In search of Experimental Evidence for Secondary Antisemitism

A File Drawer Report


  • Roland Imhoff Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
  • Mario Messer



In 1955, Adorno attributed antisemitic sentiments voiced by Germans to a paradox projection: The only latently experienced feelings of guilt were warded off by antisemitic defense mecha- nisms. Similar predictions of increases in antisemitic prejudice in response to increased Holo- caust salience follow from other theoretical apparatuses (e.g., social identity theory as well as just-world theory). Based on the – to the best of our knowledge – only experimental evidence for such an effect (published in Psychological Science in 2009), the present research reports a series of studies originally conducted to better understand the contribution of the different assumed mechanisms. In light of a failure to replicate the basic effect, however, the studies shifted to an effort to demonstrate the basic process. We report all studies our lab has con- ducted on the issue. Overall, the data did not provide any evidence for the original effect. In addition to the obvious possibility of an original false positive, we speculate what might be responsible for this conceptual replication failure.


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