Proponents of Terror Management Theory (TMT) argue that forcing people to think about their own inevitable death (i.e., mortality salience) can result in increased outgroup aversion (e.g., Solomon et al., 1991). Meanwhile, proponents of self-affirmation theory suggest that engaging in a self-affirmation exercise could reduce negative attitudes toward outgroup members (e.g., Fein & Spencer, 1997). Both theories share an underlying assumption that people’s self-concept influences their defensive behaviors, including outgroup aversion, as they strive to achieve and preserve a positive self-concept (e.g., Solomon et al., 1991; Steele, 1988). The current experiment was conducted to further investigate the effects of both mortality salience, self-affirmation, and self-concept on outgroup aversion toward undocumented immigrants. Three hundred and eight undergraduate students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette served as participants. Participants were asked to (1) write about their most important value or their least important value, (2) write about death or dental pain, and (3) read about an undocumented immigrant from Canada or Mexico. They also completed five measures of self-concept, two distractor tasks, two measures of outgroup aversion, and a demographic questionnaire. Data from participants who met the study criteria (N = 298) was analyzed. The results indicated that neither mortality salience, self-affirmation, nor immigrant nationality significantly influenced participants’ outgroup aversion scores. Higher levels of perceived cultural similarity and lower levels of collective self-esteem were associated with less outgroup aversion toward undocumented immigrants. It may be that perceived cultural similarity is a key factor in reducing outgroup aversion.
|Advisor:||Breaux, Brooke O.|
|Commitee:||Sandoz, Emily, Li, Manyu|
|School:||University of Louisiana at Lafayette|
|School Location:||United States -- Louisiana|
|Source:||MAI 81/12(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Mortality salience, Outgroup aversion, Prejudice, Self-affirmation, Self-esteem, Self-transcendence|
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