Many studies demonstrate that mortality salience can increase negativity toward outgroups but few have examined variables that mitigate this effect. The present research examined whether subtly priming people to think of human experiences shared by people from diverse cultures increases perceived similarity of members of different groups, which then reduces MS-induced negativity toward outgroups. In Study 1, exposure to pictures of people from diverse cultures engaged in common human activities non-significantly reversed the effect of MS on implicit anti-Arab prejudice. In Study 2, thinking about similarities between one's own favorite childhood memories and those of people from other countries eliminated MS-induced explicit negative attitudes toward immigrants. In Study 3, thinking about similarities between one's own painful childhood memories and those of people from other countries eliminated the MS-induced reduction in support for peace-making. Mediation analyses suggest the effects were driven by perceived similarity of people across cultures. These findings suggest that priming widely shared human experiences can attenuate MS-induced intergroup conflict.
- Terror management
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science