Who Were We? Exploring French Past Group Prototypes


  • Haifat Maoulida Orcid
  • Isabel Urdapilleta Orcid
  • Julie Collange Orcid
  • Jean Louis Tavani Orcid


Groups have cognitive existence through the prototype of the group (Haslam et al., 1995; https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.2420250504). Past group prototypes then refer to the most representative characteristics that define the group in these previous states. We suppose, as collective events might have different versions associated with different valences (Zaromb et al., 2014; https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-013-0369-7), this might also be the case for prototypes also held in the collective memory (Halbwachs, 1950; http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1522/cla.ham.mem1). After highlighting different facets of the past (Study 1) or not (Study 2), we used the “free association method” (Lo Monaco et al., 2017; https://doi.org/10.1111/jtsb.12124; Vergès, [1992], L’évocation de l’argent. Bulletin de Psychologie, 45(4–7), 203–209). Yet, this research explored the content of past prototypes associated with different elements of French collective memory: the French during the Second World War (Study 1, N = 301), and French people in 18th century (Study 2, N = 354). Results suggest the existence for each of these periods of a “two-sided” prototype, i.e., a positive vs. negative-valence prototype. The implications of the existence of these “two-sided” prototypes, the implication of collective continuity perceived for each of them and avenues for future research will be discussed.