Terror management theory and racist attributions : mortality saliency and bias level among black Americans

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Erica C. Noles (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site: http://library.uncw.edu/
James Johnson

Abstract: The current study was undertaken to elucidate the findings related to the terror management theory (TMT) and racial bias. According the tenets of TMT, reminders of one’s own mortality will cause an increased need to validate one’s worldview. This hypothesis was tested by assessing Blacks’ expectations of White racism in ambiguous scenarios. Among those who are highly biased against Whites, it can be assumed that expectations of White racism are inherent to their worldview. We predicted that high bias individuals would have a greater need to see an ambiguous situation as racist after the mortality salience manipulation as a means to defend their worldview. As predicted, high bias individuals rated the ambiguous scenarios as more likely to be caused by racism than did low bias individuals. A main effect for mortality salience showed that those who were asked to consider their own death rated the scenarios as more racist than did the control group. Most importantly, a significant interaction between mortality salience and bias level provided evidence that racist attributions can be predicted by the TMT. This study was the first TMT investigation into the effects of mortality saliency on Blacks and the first to examine the level of racial bias as an independent variable.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Masters of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Stereotypes (Social psychology), Self-presentation
Stereotypes (Social psychology)

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