Sympathy for the devil: Evidence that reminding Whites of their mortality promotes more favorable reactions to White racists

Jeff Greenberg, Jeff Schimel, Andy Martens, Sheldon Solomon, Tom Pyszcznyski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

70 Scopus citations

Abstract

Terror management research has often shown that after reminders of mortality, people show greater investment in and support for groups to which they belong. The question for the present research was whether or not this would extend to Euro American investment in their identification as White. Although it seemed unlikely that White participants would directly exhibit increased identification as Whites, we hypothesized that mortality salience would increase sympathy for other Whites who expressed racial pride or favoritism toward Whites. In support of the hypothesis, a White person expressing pride in his race was viewed by White participants as particularly racist relative to a Black person who does so in Study 1, but was deemed less racist after White participants were reminded of their own mortality in Study 2. Similarly, in Study 3, White participants rated an explicitly racist White employer as less racist when they were reminded beforehand of their own mortality. The results were discussed in terms of implications for affiliation with racist ideologies and terror management defenses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-133
Number of pages21
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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