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Integrating historical and moral consciousness in history teaching


Mia Silfver

Liisa Myyry


The aim of this study is to explore historical perspective-taking from a social psychological perspective and reflect on the role of social identities and conceptions of human nature in perspective-taking. The sample consisted of 160 Year 9 students in Finland who responded to a historical perspective-taking task based on an edited excerpt from the book Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (Browning, 1999). Based on qualitative content analysis, four types of answers were identified: all groups have the potential for good and evil; in-group is morally superior; lessons learned from history; and in the future similar situation would be possible. Social identity as an in-group – out-group distinction was essential in the responses as well as moral and historical empathy. Our empirical data shows that many students are willing and able to reflect on complex ethical questions on history lessons, and therefore we suggest that open discussions and consideration of different perspectives should be encouraged in history teaching. In addition, connecting historical topics to current day issues would help students to recognize the patterns of thinking that may lead to intergroup conflicts and violence. 


Historical consciousness, moral consciousness, empathy, perspective-taking, social identity 

How to Cite:

Silfver, M. & Myyry, L. (2022). Integrating historical and moral consciousness in history teaching. Historical Encounters, 9(2), 18-29.


  • Published 8 August 2022

  • Double Blind Peer-Reviewed

  • Author Retains Copyright

  • Distributed under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 License

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