Fatal attraction: The effects of mortality salience on evaluations of charismatic, task-oriented, and relationship-oriented leaders

Florette Cohen, Sheldon Solomon, Molly Maxfield, Tom Pyszczynski, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

114 Scopus citations


A study was conducted to assess the effects of mortality salience on evaluations of political candidates as a function of leadership style. On the basis of terror management theory and previous research, we hypothesized that people would show increased preference for a charismatic political candidate and decreased preference for a relationship-oriented political candidate in response to subtle reminders of death. Following a mortality-salience or control induction, 190 participants read campaign statements by charismatic, task-oriented, and relationship-oriented gubernatorial candidates; evaluated their preferences for each candidate; and voted for one of them. Results were in accord with predictions. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)846-851
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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