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.
- Rally around the flag
- Terror management theory
- Watchdog press
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)