Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fatal Attraction: A New Study Suggests A Relationship Between Fear Of Death And Political Preferences

Date:
October 29, 2004
Source:
American Psychological Society
Summary:
This research is based on the idea that reminders of death increase the need for psychological security and therefore the appeal of leaders who emphasize the greatness of the nation and a heroic victory over evil.

This research is based on the idea that reminders of death increase the need for psychological security and therefore the appeal of leaders who emphasize the greatness of the nation and a heroic victory over evil.

Related Articles


To test this hypothesis, Jeff Greenberg, a professor of psychology at the University Arizona in Tucson, Sheldon Solomon (Skidmore College) and Tom Pyszczynski, (University of Colorado, Colorado Springs) and their colleagues conducted an experiment that is scheduled to appear in the December 2004 issue of Psychological Science.

For their current research, the scientists asked students to think about their own death or a control topic and then read campaign statements of three hypothetical political candidates, each with a different leadership style: "charismatic" (i.e. those emphasizing greatness of the nation and a heroic victory over evil, as described above), task-oriented or relationship-oriented. Following a reminder of death, there was almost an 800 percent increase in votes for the charismatic leader, but no increase for the two other candidates.

"At a theoretical level," the authors wrote, "this study adds to the large body of empirical evidence attesting to the pervasive influence of reminders of death on a wide range of human activities. These findings fit particularly well with prior studies showing how mortality salience leads people toward individuals, groups, and actions that can help enhance their self-esteem. People want to identify with special, great things, and charismatic leaders typically offer the promise of just that."

What can voters do to ensure that they make choices in a rational way, based on political qualifications and the positions of the candidates? They may need to monitor efforts by candidates to capitalize on fear mongering and make a greater effort to vote with their heads, rather than with their hearts, and be aware of how concerns about death affect human behavior.

For more information, contact Jeff Greenberg at (520) 621-7434 or [email protected] and Sheldon Solomon at (518) 580-5312 or [email protected]. A full copy of the article is available at the APS Media Center at www.psychologicalscience.org/media/.

Greenberg, Solomon and Pyszczynski are the originators of Terror Management Theory, which helps explain why humans react the way they do to the threat of death, and how this reaction influences their post-threat cognition and emotion. They also wrote "In the Wake of 9/11: The Psychology of Terror," in which they used terror management theory to analyze the roots of terrorism and American reactions to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001.

Psychological Science is ranked among the top 10 general psychology journals for impact by the Institute for Scientific Information. The American Psychological Society represents psychologists advocating science-based research in the public's interest.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Psychological Society. "Fatal Attraction: A New Study Suggests A Relationship Between Fear Of Death And Political Preferences." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041027141726.htm>.
American Psychological Society. (2004, October 29). Fatal Attraction: A New Study Suggests A Relationship Between Fear Of Death And Political Preferences. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041027141726.htm
American Psychological Society. "Fatal Attraction: A New Study Suggests A Relationship Between Fear Of Death And Political Preferences." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041027141726.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 9 out of 10 excessive drinkers in the country are not alcohol dependent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins