Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Conflict Resolution Institute

First Advisor

Tamra Pearson d'Estreé, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Ruth Chao, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Darrin Hicks

Fourth Advisor

Jesse Valdez

Fifth Advisor

Marian Bussey


Holocaust, Integrative complexity, Open-mindedness, Perpetrating, Positive psychology, Rescuing


To contribute to the social psychological literature on Holocaust rescue, this thesis seeks to explore possible connections between open-mindedness and rescuing during the Holocaust, a previously unexplored intersection in the social science literature. Open-mindedness is the ability and/or willingness to adopt alternative points of view (Peterson & Seligman, 2004), while rescuing entails helping others in high-risk circumstances without expectation of reward or compensation.

While most of the scientific study of psychology has focused on how human beings are flawed and damaged. People are seen as sick or damaged and the scientific study of psychology tends toward trying to alleviate these ills that are an inherent part of human life. Positive psychology seeks to challenge this paradigm by bringing greater attention to human strengths, positing that there should be an equal focus on these strengths as there is on pathology. This study looks for a relationship between the human strength of open-mindedness and rescuing during the Holocaust.

This study compares the open-mindedness of two groups: rescuers of Jews during World War II; and Nazi war crimes defendants, who were involved in perpetrating some of the worst crimes in human history.

Using the integrative complexity construct developed by Suedfeld, Tetlock & Streufert (1992), this study compares the integrative complexity scores of 15 rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust and 14 Nazi war crimes defendants using archival data. Results do not support the hypothesis that integrative complexity is related to rescuing. This study did not find a significant relationship between rescuing and integrative complexity. However, results do show a negative relationship between integrative complexity and perpetrating. Guilty defendants scored lower than both rescuers and innocent defendants. A relationship also existed between integrative complexity and defendant sentence. Defendants who received the death penalty scored lowest, followed by defendants charged to serve time in prison, with innocent defendants receiving the highest integrative complexity scores. While integrative complexity does not appear to predict rescuing, it does appear to predict perpetrating. These results lend support to previous research that found relationship between integrative complexity and the increased likelihood of finding nonviolent solutions to conflicts.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Fernando Alberto Ospina

File size

133 p.

File format





Social psychology, Psychology, Peace studies