Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Sharda Umanath

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Collective memory is a socially shared representation of the past. History, contrastingly, strives to be an unbiased, objective, and critical account of the past. Many researchers have argued that the so-called “history” found in school textbooks and curriculums align more with collective memory; however, many individuals do not know of the pervasiveness of collective memory in supposed “history” texts. To examine perceptions of accuracy and preference of American “history” textbook passages, individuals from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (n= 404) participated in an online study where they were randomly assigned to read one passage that was either negatively biased, neutral, or positively biased regarding the U.S. dropping the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Participants rated their emotional valence of the event and their perceptions of accuracy and preference for the passage. The results suggest that individuals perceive negatively biased passages as less accurate and less preferable, even if their emotional valence matches the bias within the text. Individuals also showed the hypothesized interaction for preference; those who perceived the event as not negative preferred the positive text to the neutral and negative texts. The findings support evidence that individuals are motivated to prefer history passages consistent with their attitudes and rate higher accuracy among positive and neutral texts. The results have broader implications on reporting or dismissing human rights violations within collective memory.