The mortality muzzle: The effect of death thoughts on attitudes toward national security and a watchdog press

David Cuillier, Blythe Duell, Jeff Joireman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study, based on terror management theory, employs an experiment to examine how the thought of death affects people's attitudes toward a watchdog press. Findings suggest that people who most value national security demonstrate less support for a watchdog press when primed to think of death than security-minded participants in a control group. The results provide one potential explanation for rally-around-the-flag effects and for why some people more strongly oppose journalists criticizing the government during times of mortal strife, such as war or terrorist attacks. Implications discussed include suggestions, based on theory, for preventing these attitudinal shifts, and the application of terror management theory to other areas of political communication research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-202
Number of pages18
JournalJournalism
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2010

Keywords

  • Rally around the flag
  • Terror management theory
  • Watchdog press

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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