Death Anxiety’s Effect on Aspects of Gender Attitudes: Voting Decisions and Infidelity


  • Charlie Kaiser Fort Lewis College
  • Britt Blomso Fort Lewis College


terror management theory, mortality salience, gender attitudes, voting decisions, self-esteem, infidelity


Terror Management Theory states that humans uniquely have awareness that we will inevitably die while concurrently having the innate desire to survive; this internal struggle often creates an unconscious anxiety surrounding death which humans typically combat by investing in our culture, worldviews, and values. The current study examines the way individuals decide to manage their terror in relation to gender attitudes: By choosing to commit to their romantic relationships or by adhering to their worldview allegiance through their voting decision. Participants (N = 100) from diverse backgrounds, genders, and political leanings took an online survey including questions about likelihood to commit infidelity and voting decisions in a hypothetical election scenario. It was hypothesized that men would be more likely to vote male whereas women would have no significant difference in the gender they choose to vote for after a death reminder (termed mortality salience, MS). It was also hypothesized that men would be more likely to report cheating on their partners as a death-denying strategy whereas women would be less likely to report infidelity following death reminders. Results showed that under MS, men were less likely to report cheating on their partner whereas women were more likely to report cheating on their partners. Both genders were more likely to vote female when primed with death.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Brian Burke

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Social Sciences