Multiple theories claim to explain the phenomenon of worldview defense. Terror management theory claims that people defend their beliefs because of the fear of death; other theories (e.g., meaning maintenance model) claim that is instead a specific feared aspect of death (e.g., meaninglessness) that causes worldview defense. Past research has attempted to resolve this issue of competing theories; however, researchers do not agree on whether or not meaning threats are distinct from mortality salience. To clarify this issue, 371 participants were recruited via Prime Panels and assigned to one of the following conditions: a dissonant incongruity condition, an irrelevant incongruity condition, a mortality salience manipulation or a neutral manipulation. All participants subsequently completed a logical fallacy task related to political bias. Results indicated that mortality salience caused a conservative shift rather than worldview defense, whereas incongruity caused participants to make fewer worldview-dependent logical errors when compared with the control condition. These results suggest that incongruity does not cause the same effects as mortality salience and support the notion that they are distinct existential threats. However, further research is needed to resolve this issue.
|Commitee:||James, Lori, Maxfield, Molly|
|School:||University of Colorado Colorado Springs|
|School Location:||United States -- Colorado|
|Source:||MAI 58/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Existential, Meaning maintenance model, Terror management theory, Uncertainty|
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