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Does the awareness of mortality shape people's openness to violence and conflict? An examination of terror management theory

journal contribution
posted on 01.02.2019, 00:00 authored by Matteo VerganiMatteo Vergani, K S O'Brien, P Lentini, Greg BartonGreg Barton
Terror management theory (TMT) proposes that evoking death-related thoughts (mortality salience; MS) in individuals or groups can lead to stronger worldview defence and greater support for extremist violence. In three experiments, we tested whether an MS manipulation, and associated moderators, increased support for extremist violence. In Australian university students, Study 1 found no statistically significant main or moderated effects for MS on measures of extremist violence. However, participants exposed to the MS manipulation reported increases in conservative religiosity (belief in divine power). In Study 2, the MS manipulation had no significant effect on support for extremist violence for Australian university students primed with an antiviolent extremism norm. And in young Australian Jewish people (Study 3), the MS manipulation did not increase support for violence against migrants. However, there was an increase in support for policies that act to fight against violent extremism in Iraq and Syria in those exposed to the MS manipulation. Across three studies, we find little support for the hypothesis that MS results in increased support for violent extremism. Larger more methodological sound studies are needed to address inconsistencies in the evidence surrounding TMT and the MS hypothesis, at least in regards to violence and extremism.

History

Journal

Political psychology

Volume

40

Issue

1

Pagination

111 - 124

Publisher

John Wiley & Sons

Location

Chichester, Eng.

ISSN

0162-895X

eISSN

1467-9221

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, International Society of Political Psychology