Take Me to Church: Potential Problems with Terror Management Theory Manipulations

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CONFERENCE: Scholars Week

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DeRossett, Thomas
Psychology; Social Psychology
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Religion is often used as a coping mechanism for adverse events, including death anxiety and acceptance (Pargament & Raiya, 2007; Park & Cohen, 1993). Though that coping effects of religion in life may be positive, it potentially hinders the mortality salience (MS) effects found in studies of terror management theory (TMT), such as amplifying core beliefs (Pyszczynski, Greenberg, & Solomon, 1997). Simply, in highly religious samples the effects of MS may not occur because religion is working as a buffer to death anxiety. To determine the existence of this effect, we examined the mediating (potentially suppressing) effect of religion in a traditional TMT paradigm. However, in addition to the experimental conditions of priming death or dental pain, we added a spiritual afterlife (SA) prime. Additionally, state and trait self-esteem, centrality and acceptance of religiosity, death anxiety, and death acceptance were measured.For this study, the following hypotheses were made: 1) Participants in the SA condition will report lower death anxiety and higher death acceptance than the MS group. 2) Centrality of religion, along with self-esteem, will mediate the relationship between condition and death anxiety/acceptance. 3) There will be a difference between conditions on the acceptance of other religions. Results and implications will be discussed.