Autochthony Belief and Making Amends to Indigenous Peoples: The Role of Collective Moral Emotions

Wybren Nooitgedagt, Borja Martinovic, Maykel Verkuyten, Jolanda Jetten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Intergroup relations in settler societies have been defined by historical conflict over territorial ownership between indigenous peoples and settler majorities. However, the indigenous groups were there first, and first arrival is an important principle for assigning ownership to a group. In two studies among Australians of Anglo-Celtic origin (N = 322 and N = 475), we argued and found that the general belief in entitlements for first comers (i.e. autochthony) is related to more support for reparations in terms of apology and instrumental compensation for Aborigines, as well as to less topic avoidance. We further proposed that the group-based emotions of collective guilt, moral shame and image shame account for these associations. We found that majority members who endorsed autochthony belief experienced more guilt (Study 1 and 2), moral shame (Study2) and image shame (Study 2). In turn, guilt and moral shame were related to more support for reparations and less topic avoidance, whereas image shame was related to more topic avoidance, thereby partially suppressing the negative association between autochthony belief and topic avoidance. Our research points at the importance of considering autochthony belief and different types of moral emotions in research on past transgressions and current attempts to restore social justice for indigenous peoples.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-80
Number of pages28
JournalSocial Justice Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Apology
  • Autochthony
  • Group-based emotions
  • Indigenous groups
  • Reparations


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