Subconscious Gatekeeping: The Effect of Death Thoughts on Bias Toward Outgroups in News Writing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study contributes to gatekeeping theory by examining the importance of individual-level subconscious psychological factors in news story fact selection, specifically whether the thought of death increases biased writing toward outgroups. An experiment (N = 79), based on terror management theory from social psychology, indicated that college journalists primed to think about death injected into their news stories 66% more negative facts toward a rival university than those in a control condition. Implications for mass media research, particularly individual-level psychological factors overriding routine gatekeeping forces, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-24
Number of pages21
JournalMass Communication and Society
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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