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Terror management theory (TMT;
Solomon, Greenberg, & Pyszczynski,
Human beings are explicitly aware of the
inevitability of death
Death can occur at any time
Death creates the potential for overwhelming
This terror is reduced by two psychological
phenomena: Cultural Worldviews and SelfEsteem
Cultural worldview &
Cultural worldview :
 Humanly constructed
beliefs about the nature
of reality shared by
individuals in a group
 Provides a conception of
the universe
 Imbues the world with
order, meaning, and
Sets standards of valued
Minimizes death anxiety
by promises of
immortality (symbolic
and/or literal) to those
who live up to these
Cultural worldview &
Self-esteem: the
perception that one is
a person of value in a
world of meaning
 Obtained if standards
of valued behavior
are satisfied
Self-esteem buffers
death anxiety, by
making you feel like
a person of value
within your cultural
worldview. You feel a
part of something
bigger than yourself;
something that will
last long after you
are gone.
Overview of TMT
 Then raising self-esteem should reduce
anxiety in response to stressful situations
 Studies have shown that dispositionally high
or momentarily elevated self-esteem reduces:
self-reported anxiety, defensive distortions,
and physiological arousal in response to
stressful situations
The mortality salience (MS)
 If
worldview and self-esteem provide
protection from the potential for
death-related anxiety
 Then reminders of death should
intensify efforts to uphold worldview
and self-esteem.
Mortality Salience Paradigm
Mortality salience manipulation typically consists of two openended questions pertaining to death: “Describe the feelings that the
thought of your own death arouses in you”; and (b) Describe what
you think will happen to you as you physically die and once you are
Control: Parallel questions about unpleasant but non-lethal events
Mortality salience also engendered by: fear of death scales, videos
of gory automobile accidents, standing in front of funeral parlors,
and subliminal death primes have obtained similar results
Mortality salience effects appear to be unique to concerns about
death, control conditions asking people to ponder anxiety-provoking
but non-lethal things like dental pain, exams, social exclusion &
paralysis – do not produce these effects.
Mortality Salience Effects 1
Rosenblatt et al. (1989) published the first study
of the effects of mortality salience on social
If Moral Values represent Cultural
And prostitution is a violation of moral
Then, Under the mortality salience paradigm
Judges should be more punitive as a way to
bolster their Worldview Defense Mechanism
Mortality Salience Effects 1
Twenty-two municipal court judges from
Tucson, Arizona completed a series of
personality questionnaires
Half were randomly assigned to the MS
condition and answered two open-ended
questions about death
The judges were then given a hypothetical case
in which they were asked to set bond for accused
Mortality Salience Effects 1
Those judges in the mortality salience
group set bond at an average of $455
 Those judges in the control group set bond
at an average of $50
 The judges who had been reminded of
their death were much harsher in their
punishment of a person who had violated
rules of social worldview than were judges
for whom death had not been made salient.
Mortality Salience Effects 2
“One very common source of differences
between people that has been recurrently linked
to prejudice, conflict, and hostility is that of
religious belief and affiliation. Throughout
history, armed conflicts, ranging from minor
skirmishes to full-scale wars, have been waged
between the proponents of various religious
conceptions of reality.” (Greenberg et al;
Mortality Salience Effects 2
The Effects of Mortality Salience on Reactions to
those who Threaten or Bolster the Cultural
Worldview (Greenberg et al; 1990)
 TMT: Enthusiasm for conflicts among those who
actually end up doing the killing and the dying is
fueled by the threat implied to each group's
cultural anxiety-buffer by the existence of the
other group.
 The mere existence of others with similar beliefs
validates one's faith in one's cultural worldview
 The mere existence of others with different
beliefs threatens that faith.
Mortality Salience Effects 2
 Mortality salience will increase liking for
a member of one's own religious group
 Mortality salience will decrease liking for
a member of a religious out-group (Jews)
Mortality Salience Effects 2
To test these hypotheses:
 Twenty-six female and 20 male Christian
introductory psychology students
 1-
Filled out some personality questionnaires
 2- Were given personality information
supplied by two other subjects that they
would use to evaluate those subjects (a
Christian and a Jew)
Mortality Salience Effects 2
Independent Variable’s:
 Demographic information: religious affiliations
 “Who am I?” questionnaire
 Janis–Field self-esteem inventory
 10 social issue statements
 Participants randomly assigned to MS condition
or no condition
Mortality Salience Effects 2
Experimenter returned with;
 The two completed versions supposedly filled
out by two other participants
 There were relatively similar responses on the
background questionnaire and the Who Am I?
 On the social issues questionnaire, one version
had politically liberal responses and one had
relatively conservative responses. Different
attitudes were presented so that the targets would
seem to be real, fairly different persons.
Mortality Salience Effects 2
Background questionnaire—Jew or Christian
Who Am I? Questionnaire—Jew or Christian
Social issues questionnaire of two supposed
male subjects—Liberal or Conservative
Two sets of initial impressions assessments and
an envelope—to be filled out by participant
Interpersonal Judgment Scale
 20
traits—5 fit negative Jewish Stereotypes
Mortality Salience Effects 2
Two sets of initial impressions assessments and
an envelope—to be filled out by participant
Interpersonal Judgment Scale
 20
traits—5 fit negative Jewish Stereotypes
Subjects were instructed to evaluate the subjects
and to fill out the first impression assessment as
soon as they finished reading about the first
subjects rated each target immediately after
reading the description of that person.
Mortality Salience Effects 2
Trait Ratings
 In Mortality Salience condition--Christian was
rated significantly more positively than the Jew
 In Mortality Salience condition--Jew rated
significantly more negatively than in control
MS Defense Mechanisms:
Mortality Salience has been demonstrated to
 affiliation with sports teams
 a desire for conspicuous consumption
 charitable donations
 alleviation of depressive and anxiety
 close relationships
 sexual relationships
 body image
 voting preferences
Anti-Semitism Studies
 Instruction page: Bogus Pipeline or Prejudice obvious
 Mortality Salience or Exam Salience Questions
 Anti-Semitism Scale
 Support for Israel Scale
 Support for Israel and Palestinian Scales
 Feeling Thermometer: Jew
 Demographics
Anti-Semitism Studies
Anti-Semitism Scale:
 Under Mortality Salience and Bogus Pipeline
participants report more Anti-Semitic Sentiment
Support for Israel Scale:
 Under Mortality Salience and Bogus Pipeline
participants report less Sentiment in support of Israel
 Sig. Correlation between the two
Today’s Map Study
Based on the Sig. Correlation found between the
Anti-Semitism and the Support for Israel Scale
we Hypothesized:
 1- Anti-Zionism is the “New Anti-Semitism”
 2- One holding Anti-Semitic/Zionistic views
will view the country of Israel looming larger
that it is in actuality
 3- Under Mortality Salience, people will
estimate Israel to be larger than under Exam
 4- This Effect will not be found for any other
Today’s Map Study
 Instruction page: Bogus Pipeline
 Mortality Salience or Exam Salience Induction
 Mood Scale
 Individual country and population assessment
 Feeling Thermometer
 Anti-Semitism/Zionism “Opinion Poll”
 News Media Questionnaire
 Demographics