Death & Racism
Mortality Salience Effects on Stereotypical Tendencies
A relationship between mortality salience and stereotypical thinking was examined in this research under the hypothesis proposed by terror management theory. This theory proposes that humans defend ourselves against our inevitable death by investing in cultural worldviews. Our study asked people mortality salience questions (designed to elicit death reminders) or control questions and then measured participants’ level of stereotyping. In the study, 133 participants took a stereotypical thinking assessment that measured how stereotypical they were when presented with crime description. The results of the study showed trends toward significance. When exposed to mortality salience, participants were more likely to have stereotypical tendencies than those who were presented with the control questions. In addition, Native American participants showed significant stereotype threat. Together, these findings suggest that priming individuals with mortality salience leads them to have higher stereotypical tendencies, especially if they are part of a minority group.
Faculty Mentor: Brian Burke