Evidence for Terror Management Theory II: The Effects of Mortality Salience on Reactions to Those Who Threaten or Bolster the Cultural Worldview

Jeff Greenberg, Tom Pyszczynski, Sheldon Solomon, Abram Rosenblatt, Mitchell Veeder, Shari Kirkland, Deborah Lyon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

899 Scopus citations

Abstract

Three experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis, derived from terror management theory, that reminding people of their mortality increases attraction to those who consensually validate their beliefs and decreases attraction to those who threaten their beliefs. In Study 1, subjects with a Christian religious background were asked to form impressions of Christian and Jewish target persons. Before doing so, mortality was made salient to half of the subjects. In support of predictions, mortality salience led to more positive evaluations of the in-group member (the Christian) and more negative evaluations of the out-group member (the Jew). In Study 2, mortality salience led to especially negative evaluations of an attitudinally dissimilar other, but only among subjects high in authoritarianism. In Study 3, mortality salience led to especially positive reactions to someone who directly praised subjects' cultural worldviews and especially negative reactions to someone who criticized them. The implications of these findings for understanding in-group favoritism, prejudice, and intolerance of deviance are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-318
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume58
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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