By publishing his accounts of Polish crimes against Polish Jews during the Second World War, Jan Thomas Gross started a difficult discussion over the definition of Polish national identity. Inspired by those discussions, I, Blazej Mrozinski, Claudia Simao and Agnieszka Golec de Zavala, examined whether alternative beliefs about Polish identity make different predictions regarding the willingness to participate in such a discussion. Results of a cross-sectional study showed that collective narcissism (i.e., a belief that the in-group’s importance is not sufficiently recognized by others) versus in-group satisfaction (i.e., a belief that the in-group is of high value and a reason to be proud of) had opposite unique associations with the evaluation of the artistic value of films referring to Polish involvement in pogroms during the Second World War (Ida and The Aftermath, a proxy of an attitude towards knowledge about past national transgressions). Collective narcissism predicted lower perceived artistic value of the films, whereas in-group satisfaction predicted higher artistic value.
Our results suggest that collective narcissism is related to avoidance of uncomfortable truths about the in-group (Golec de Zavala, Dyduch-Hazar, & Lantos, 2019a). This highlights the inability of collective narcissists to integrate past in-group transgressions with the exaggerated positive in-group’s image. This inability may be a serious issue when it comes to intergroup reconciliation. In-group satisfaction, on the other hand, was associated with the readiness to accept past in-group’s transgressions. This finding indicates that in-group satisfaction may facilitate intergroup reconciliation. Such an interpretation is in line with previous findings indicating that, unlike collective narcissism, in-group satisfaction is uniquely related to positive emotionality and prosociality (Golec de Zavala, 2019a).
However, the most interesting finding coming from the research is the mutual suppression of collective narcissism and in-group satisfaction. Collective narcissism and in-group satisfaction suppressed each other’s opposite associations with the evaluation of artistic value of the films. Their unique opposite relationships could only be observed when the common variance of collective narcissism and in-group satisfaction was partialled out. Thus, as long as in-group satisfaction is related to collective narcissism, its negative relationship with readiness to accept past in-group transgressions may be diminished.