What becomes salient after mortality salience
Burgin, Chris J.
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Terror Management Theory researchers traditionally manipulate mortality salience by asking participants to describe their feelings towards the concept of death and what they think will happen to them after they die. We propose that the feelings component may enhance emotion-based processing (inward attention), whereas the afterlife component may enhance outward processing based on cultural knowledge (religion). Thus, different outcomes might be obtained depending on which component is salient. To test this hypothesis, we separated the two components and asked participants to write exclusively about one or the other. We then gave participants the opportunity to utilize a stereotype when evaluating a target person. We found that participants who described their death-related feelings were less likely to utilize the stereotype when evaluating the target person compared with those who wrote about what they believe happens to them after they die. Results suggest that some components of mortality salience actually decrease stereotyping.