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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Sep;95(3):524-41. doi: 10.1037/a0012666.

The role of control motivation in mortality salience effects on ingroup support and defense.

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Institut fur Psychologie, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Jena, Germany.


Terror management research has shown that mortality salience (MS) leads to increased support and defense of cultural ingroups and their norms (i.e., worldview defense, WD). The authors investigated whether these effects can be understood as efforts to restore a generalized sense of control by strengthening one's social ingroup. In Studies 1-3, the authors found that WD was only increased following pure death salience, compared with both dental pain salience and salience of self-determined death. As both the pure death and the self-determined death conditions increased accessibility of death-related thoughts (Study 4), these results do not emerge because only the pure death induction makes death salient. At the same time, Study 5 showed that implicitly measured control motivation was increased in the pure death salience condition but not under salience of both self-determined death and dental pain. Finally, in Study 6, the authors manipulated MS and control salience (CS) independently and found a main effect for CS but not for MS on WD. The results are discussed with regard to a group-based control restoration account of terror management findings.

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